Enrile versus Pimentel: Who can we believe?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-05-28

Pikon (short fused) is a term that has often been used by media to characterize Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. On primetime television last Monday, Enrile displayed that side of his character again.

All the way to your bedroom or living room, depending where you watch the TV news, you can almost feel the figurative angry snorts from the nose of the raging bull in the Senate who was accusing Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel of being a “coward, hypocrite, traitor and a spoiled brat.” All this was delivered in the tenor and language that we would expect from street toughies — so very un-statesmanlike and un-parliamentarian.

Enrile was reacting to Nene Pimentel’s comments in media that Enrile was conducting the Senate as a whole hearing of the ethics case filed against Senator Manny Villar like an autocrat, reminiscent of the martial law days when Enrile was one of the top enforcers of Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Pimentel’s comments were made after having been frustrated by Enrile from seeking fair hearing rules for Senator Villar.
Enrile did not entertain the proposals and ordered the hearing to proceed.

Not the type to be cowed by Enrile, Pimentel shot back and called Enrile the “bigger hypocrite” after having faked an ambush in 1972 which was used as one of the excuses for declaring martial law. Pimentel also reminded Enrile that the former Marcos enforcer signed four arrest orders against him during the dictatorship and not even once did he run away from his arresting officers.

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones, the old adage says. When you point an accusing finger, bear in mind that there are four other fingers pointing at you, another relevant adage says. Enrile appears not to heed these words of wisdom.

Enrile has no business accusing anyone of being a hypocrite for the simple reason that he could easily be accused of worse things. Once a Marcos enforcer, Enrile was linked to the failed coup plot of February 21, 1986 against Marcos that eventually led to the 1986 People Power Revolution. Having shifted from Marcos to Cory Aquino, Enrile was also linked to the most serious 1989 coup attempt against Cory Aquino.

Once with Joseph Estrada (and he even incited that May 1, 2001 mob to assault Malacañang Palace), Enrile is now conveniently with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — the target of the May 1, 2001 attempt to restore Estrada. With the Arroyo sun about to set in 2010, did we not hear Estrada float the name of Enrile as one of the Opposition’s Senate bets in 2010?

Anyone with a track record like that should be pleased if accused of being a hypocrite. Stronger terms like “devious” or “duplicitous” or “treacherous” easily come to mind.

Enrile should also be careful in accusing anyone of being a coward for the simple reason that he did not exactly exude an image of bravery when he was pleading for the people to protect him after being implicated in the failed coup attempt against Marcos on February 21, 1986.

All of us in the Cory Aquino camp felt that had the February 21, 1986 coup attempt succeeded, it was not to install Cory Aquino president but to grab power for those who have been waiting in the sidelines like vultures. Six coup attempts tried to oust Cory Aquino after the People Power Revolution of February 22 to 25, 1986. The vultures tried and tried again.

We may not always agree with Senator Nene Pimentel. Many of us frowned on his support for Joseph Estrada in 1998. His Left of Center political views — not Communist though — bothered the conservatives among us. The public jury is still out on his proposal for a Federal form of government. Media could not believe that he sponsored that ‘Right of Reply’ Bill which poses dangerous complications for press freedom in our country.

But most, if not all of us, never doubted the sincerity of Senator Nene Pimentel. We knew that if ever he espoused views that did not meet our approval — those were his honest conclusions and that those were being proposed in good faith.

Senator Pimentel has consistently defended human rights and upheld the rule of law. Despite his party affiliation with Joseph Estrada, during the Estrada Impeachment Trial, we all saw then Senate President Pimentel vote for opening the Jose Velarde envelope when all his party mates, Enrile one of them, voted to suppress it.

It was also Senator Pimentel who was the first victim to bring to national attention the new method of wholesale election cheating — the so-called dagdag-bawas (add and subtract) operation. Guess whom he accused of engineering the cheating operation?

With the faces of Juan Ponce-Enrile and Panfilo Lacson strongly imprinted on this ethics case against Senator Manny Villar, it is no wonder that the general public finds no credibility in it whatsoever. When Lacson launched his ‘Double Insertion’ case against Villar, Lacson was #4 in the presidential polls. Now he is running #6. Villar remains the top Opposition 2010 presidential candidate.

In the STAR Inbox of April 27, 2009, Lacson hardly received any support from texters who paid to register their opinion on the case against Villar. Most of the feedback viewed the case as nothing but political theatre and saw Lacson et al as typical Filipino crabs.

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