Jackie Enrile admits his ratings have been dipping because of the controversies his father has figured in of late. Last month, he registered only 40.4 percent in voter preference in the Pulse Asia survey, a far cry from the 53.2 percent he got in November last year. “Anything that happens to my father,” Jackie said, “will affect me, good or bad.”
Last year of course saw the elder Enrile, Juan Ponce, getting rave reviews from the public. His performance as presiding officer in the impeachment of Renato Corona in particular gave him record rates of public approval, something he hadn’t enjoyed in a long time. A thing he tried to capitalize on by rewriting his role during martial law, mounting that trickery on the 40th anniversary of martial law itself. He launched his book thereabouts.
But swift as the wind, or as retribution, came reminders of what he was. First was his confrontation with Antonio Trillanes after Trillanes accused him of favoring the partitioning of Camarines Sur because he was a Gloria Arroyo man. A thing that quite incidentally seems to have done Trillanes wonders, to go by his current showing. Then his insistence that his ambush in Wack-Wack in 1972 was genuine inevitably met with derision and ridicule, a thoroughly unnecessary provocation since he could have gone on to maintain his post-Edsa stance of a contrite sinner who had seen the light.
It can’t help that Ramon Montaño, the PC general who investigated it and who is now running for the Senate, has called Enrile’s bluff. That ambush, he says, “defies logic.” There was in fact never any ambush, only theater, and not a very good one.
Then came his Christmas gifts to his favorite senators—“lambing,” as he called it—to the tune of P1.6 million per, which his not-very-favorite senators took exception to, having gotten only a “measly” P250,000. That brought him into open confrontation first with Miriam Defensor-Santiago and second with Alan Peter Cayetano, the first calling him a Marcos henchman and the second an Arroyo one. The recriminations have been exceptionally loud and personal, and though neither Santiago nor Cayetano has gone unscathed, neither has Enrile too.
And now comes the car smuggling, a dirty finger thrust at the courts, in Enrile’s brainchild and turf, the Cagayan Special Economic Zone Authority. Giving the public to glimpse what exactly makes it “special.” The no-small irony is that at about the same time this burst into the news, Enrile was accusing Team Pinoy of failing to practice what it preached, its “daang matuwid” was spiked with all sorts of smuggling, particularly rice, meat and oil.
So Jackie’s ratings have been falling along with his father’s increasing fall from grace with the public. But this seeming logic merely hides a humongous illogic, or insanity. Which is: Why is he there in the first place? Why is he running in the first place? Why do we have to contend with his existence in the first place.
Quite simply, Jackie Enrile is the one senatorial candidate that has no substance, essence, reality. He is a shadow, he is a phantasm, he is an apparition. He is the reflected, refracted, redacted image of his father. But of course he will rise or fall according to the popularity/acceptance, or lack thereof, of his father. He has no independent political or electoral existence. A vote for Jackie Enrile is not a vote for Jackie Enrile, it is a vote for Juan Ponce Enrile. A vote for a surrogate, a vote for a proxy, a vote for a straw man.
Who is Jackie Enrile? Apart from my generation, and those who came before, he is a nonentity. He is a cipher. Nobody knows him. Certainly not the post-Edsa babies, certainly not Bam Aquino’s generation. What we did know of him during the martial law years could never have qualified him to run for public office. Hell, what we did know of him during the martial law years could not have qualified him to be running around a free man.
Otherwise the kids, who are most of the voters, know nothing about him at all. He does not represent something, he does not stand for something, he does not constitute anything. You vote, or do not vote, for him not because of what he is but because of what his father is.
Arguably, you can say the same thing about Nancy Binay, as indeed an editorial (“Unqualified,” Inquirer, 2/14/13) did last week. She is there, and indeed very much so there—she vaulted from 12th to 4th almost overnight—not for what she is but for what her father is.
There and then, you have a good definition of “dynasty.” Dynastic politics is nothing more or less than a throwback to the divine right of kings, a divinity that derives from “rightful” succession, a rightful succession that owes to blood. It’s an entitlement that comes not from ability but from kinship, not from qualification but from relation, not from being first-rate but from being first-born, or variations thereof today. It’s not without its sublime ironies, as when Henry VIII drenched England in blood to produce a male heir—unsuccessfully—only to have had all the while a female heir, Elizabeth, that would crown the country in glory. But that’s another story.
That’s what differentiates Jackie Enrile from Bam Aquino, that’s what differentiates Nancy Binay from the Cayetano siblings. Aquino and the Cayetanos have prominent parents or relations too, but they did not come into their own from relying on them. They were their own men, or women, from the start. They were people of substance, of some gravitas, and not just shadowy, fleeting, unreal forms deriving their light, like the moon from the sun, from their forebears. Arguably they started with enormous initial capital or endowment, but they had to apply themselves to much work anyway. They represent reasonableness. The two others just represent nonsense.
Also called dynasty.
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