Comes now Miriam Defensor-Santiago to set the record straight. Or to remind her countrymen of what they already know. Or to put back in shape the history that someone has tried violently to twist.
In her own words: “Namunini ’yan (Juan Ponce Enrile) noong martial law. Right-hand man iyan ni Marcos, martial law administrator iyan ni Marcos. (He immensely benefited during martial law. He was Marcos’ right-hand man, he was Marcos’ martial law administrator.) He should now answer for the crime of plunder. Bakit siya ganyan kayaman? (Why is he so rich?) He should answer for the crime of causing the disappearance of people. Defense minister siya, e di dapat managot siya doon.” (He was the defense minister, so he should answer for it.)
On Enrile’s part in Edsa: “Gusto niyang tanggalin si Marcos dahil buong pag-asa niya na siya na ang papalit. E, gusto pala ng publiko si Cory Aquino. Purmero, nakikipag-kaibigan. Mamaya nagbibigay ng pera pala para sa mga coup d’ etat laban kay Cory kaya pinatanggal siya sa gobyerno.” (He wanted to remove Marcos because he thought he would replace him. As it turned out, the people wanted Cory. At first he feigned friendship with her. Later, it turned out he was financing the coups d’etat against her. That was why he was booted out of office.)
On Enrile’s ambush in Wack Wack: “Tumigil-tigil na nga ’yang matandang ’yan! Noong panahon ni Marcos, inambush s’ya. Nung panahon ni Cory sabi nya peke ’yung ambush n’ya. Ngayong panahon na ito, sa kanyang autobiography kuno, sinabi naman niya na tunay daw ’yung ambush. Anong klaseng tao ’yan?” (That old man should stop it. During martial law, he said he was ambushed. During Cory’s time he said the ambush was fake. Then today in his autobiography he says again his ambush was real. What kind of person is that?)
What can I say? I love it.
I’ve said in the past that Enrile has been one lucky so-and-so he’s managed to be at the right place at the right time, which has allowed him to reinvent himself. On two occasions quite decisively. He happened to be there when the country was on the cusp of toppling Marcos, holing out in Camp Aguinaldo and expecting obliteration after his clandestine group was discovered by Marcos. Of course his attempts to pass himself off as the country’s savior afterward never took off, but he did get to make the country forget what he was during martial law and remember only the tail end of it.
Again he happened to be the Senate President when the country impeached its chief justice for the first time, and his approval ratings shot through the roof. Enough for him to find it the opportune moment to come out with a version of history, in the guise of a story of his life, that bore no resemblance to the people’s experience of it, however dimly recalled. Certainly that bore no resemblance to the experience of those who were tortured or the kin of the “salvaged” and disappeared, who objected violently to it. But just when it seemed he would have the last word, when fact would bend to fiction, when reality would turn to illusion, comes, well, karma. In the form of Miriam.
What makes it richly ironic is that his undoing would have to do with petty cash. Or at least petty cash by his reckoning, or at least petty cash by the kind of pillage he is used to. What has provoked all this is Miriam’s perception of being epically slighted by having been given only petty cash as Enrile’s gift for Christmas. Specifically about having been given only P250,000 (a fate she shared with three senators) while the other senators were given P1.6 million. She promptly and disdainfully returned it, her body language, along with her ballistic reaction, producing the caption, “Ano ’to, bubog?” And went on this tirade.
Enrile of course has fired back and defended his wealth, or the meager one he claims he has, as the product of exercising his profession. “Ako nag-practice ng law, ewan kung nag-practice siya.” Unfortunately for him, Miriam does have something to point to in that respect. In 1985, during a jeepney drivers’ rally, several speakers were arrested and thrown in jail. One of them was Lino Brocka. Defying precedent, which was judges denying bail to those arrested for the heinous crime of speaking out against Marcos, Miriam allowed them bail. I know this because Brocka told me about it himself.
On the other hand, Enrile’s dogged practice of law during that time is summed up by the number of ASSOs (arrest, search and seizure orders) he signed. That kind of practice of law was truly conducive to amassing wealth, which is by no means meager.
It is karma. And karma trumps luck.
Who knows? Maybe Miriam can reinvent herself too. Or go back to roots, something she has strayed very far from over the years. But I’ll leave tomorrow for tomorrow. Right now, I’ll just say what they say in the movies:
* * *
Today, Heart of Music will hold an activity at 3 p.m. at the Camp Crame Multipurpose Hall. Musicians who need a medical checkup can go there and get one free from a medical mission. Heart of Music is an NGO formed by musicians for musicians, specifically to meet the medical needs of ailing and aging musicians. They’ve been dying plentifully of late. Myra Ruaro’s brainchild, HOM has the virtue of striving to be self-reliant while welcoming help from private and public institutions.
The event will be capped by a concert at 6 p.m. that’s open to the public. It features Gou de Jesus, Lynn Sherman, Sitti Navarro, Bayang Barrios, Cooky Chua and the Guarana Band. Tickets are P1,000 with cocktails and P500 without. It will also be HOM’s coming-out party.
Music has charms to soothe the savage breast, as Congreve says. With your help, maybe it can also have the spells to cure tubercular ones.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.