The Senate President that Ping Lacson et al created
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-02-10

Under normal circumstances, Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile (otherwise known as JPE) would not have been elected Senate President. Other than the expected support of Senator Gringo Honasan, the other Senators were lukewarm to the idea of a JPE Senate Presidency.

However, because Senators Panfilo Lacson, Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda and Jamby Madrigal were so fixated on removing former Senate President Manny Villar as the third in the line of presidential succession, JPE became Senate President.

Senators Lacson, Roxas, Legarda and Madrigal — all claiming to be Opposition members — were willing to install one of the biggest supporters of the Arroyo regime as Senate President just so that they can erode the presidential bid of Manny Villar. This is the bane of selfish, narrow minded Philippine politics that has stunted the development of this country.

Lacson, Roxas and Legarda have a moist eye on the 2010 presidency while Madrigal is said to be positioning as the vice presidential running mate of Panfilo Lacson.

Upon his election as Senate President, JPE expressed full support for the agenda of the four who manipulated his freak ascendancy. It was freak ascendancy because clearly the administration senators were outnumbered by the Opposition senators. JPE even mimicked the Opposition mantra of “NO to Charter Change via Constituent Assembly.”

Well, last week JPE has changed his tune. Right after a compliant House of Representatives railroaded a Charter change bill, Juan Ponce-Enrile announced that he was open to Charter change pegged on instituting economic reforms.

Are we surprised that Enrile did that? Was he not the same man who turned his back on Ferdinand Marcos, the political patron that brought JPE into the national political stage? Didn’t JPE also turn his back on Cory Aquino after he helped her remove Marcos? Didn’t JPE incite that May 1, 2001 crowd that assaulted Malacañang Palace — only to later join the very Malacañang Palace occupant they wanted to remove?

From leading a solid Senate rejection of Charter change just a few weeks ago, how can Juan Ponce-Enrile now take the position that he is open to Charter change pegged strictly on economic reforms?

Representative Victor Ortega, chair of the Congress committee that passed the Charter change bill for floor deliberations, was clear that once passed the bill cannot guarantee that term limits (extensions) will not be touched when the process gets underway. Is Juan Ponce-Enrile suggesting that a supposed legal eagle like him is unaware of this reality?

Last Sunday, the STAR carried a story written by Aurea Calica that narrated how JPE blew his top when an unidentified radio listener responded to his new Charter change position via text message. JPE was being interviewed over radio station DWIZ when the program host, Cely Ortega-Bueno, read the text message to him.

Enrile reportedly slammed the texter: “My question to the texter is this — so what is your answer to the current problems of the country? What? What is your plan? So what do you advise us to do, huh? I am asking you.”

Enrile added: “If he (texter) wants he can come out and we can debate about this in front of the public, whatever he plans to do.”

“Are we just going to neglect the people who lost their jobs? Are we just going to neglect the families who are hungry? That is foolishness. Tell him he is stupid.” JPE said.

It is typical of our politicians to wave the “love for the people” flag when actually attempting to pull a fast one on unwitting Filipinos. Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — they all claimed to love and care for us. But look at where they all got us.

These three have been the most destructive presidencies to infect our land and it is no coincidence that Juan Ponce-Enrile happened to be a staunch supporter of the three at different times in his career. Marcos created the political foundation for future abuse of power and suppression of democracy. Estrada worsened the effects of the Asia Currency Crisis with his mismanagement. Madame Arroyo is just about the sum of Marcos and Estrada and then some.

JPE is peddling fallacies when he proposes to alleviate poverty and lost jobs with Charter change. The present Constitution provides the framework for spurring economic progress but fails to deliver economic benefits because of the politicians who control and manipulate the system.

The truth is this: It is political reform and not economic reform that will improve the lives of many Filipinos. What our country needs is real democracy but can we expect the oligarchy that rules this country to institute the very reform that will eliminate their monopoly on power?

This promise of attracting foreign investors when we open land ownership to aliens and foreign companies is an illusion. China and Vietnam do not allow foreigners to own land in their country but they lead in attracting foreign investments.

Foreign investors have not asked to be allowed to buy land here. What turns them off is the corruption, the unpredictable judiciary, the predators in all branches of government and so forth.

Clearly, it is the type of politicians that needs changing and not the Constitution.

The problem Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile is political. It has always been political. And we do not trust you and your ilk to usher in the era of political reform in this country which is why we Filipinos are wary of people like you when you mouth economic reform.

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