‘Manong Johnny’

January 08, 2019

TURNING 95 years old this coming February 14, former Senate President and Harvard-educated “JPE” (Juan Ponce Enrile) or ‘Manong Johnny’ to others, still has the strength -- and the faculties -- to render service to our country by again running for a Senate seat in the coming May elections.

And for us, the electorate, who continue to bewail the utter lack of experience and wisdom among the present crop of lawmakers in the Upper Chamber, we would be doing a great disservice to our nation if we fail to elect him.

But don’t get me wrong, dear readers. I am vouching for him simply because his intelligence and brilliance as a statesman and as a lawmaker is what our country needs right now and not because I have been “persuaded” to do so.

I have had the luxury and privilege of having covered him in the Senate and of having conversed with him a couple of time in the past; although these occasions are quite few and far between, those moments are something to cherish and think about.

Ditto, his ‘rags-to-riches’ story, fueled mainly by his determination to succeed and banking mainly on his God-given intelligence, is a life story worthy of encouraging others to believe that, yes Juan, your God-given talent is enough to succeed in life -- if you are just willing to work on it hard enough.

Having announced his candidacy for the Senate, I am sure that most of the Senate employees are already anticipating his return with bathed breath.

And why not? For despite the “notoriety” of some of the accusations thrown Manong Johnny’s way, in particular, his being the “martial law administrator” during Pres. Marcos’ time, Senate employees still concede that his Senate presidency is the “best years” of their employment in the Upper Chamber -- up to now.

Aber, dahil nga “Ilokano,” inisip nila na”kuripot” si Manong Johnny at dahil na rin sa kanyang “papel” noong martial law, iniiisip nilang “istrikto” si Manong Johnny pero, ang lahat ay nagulat -- at natuwa -- dahil sa ipinakitang “malasakit” ni Manong Johnny sa kanilang kapakanan at interes kahit mga “ordinaryong kawani” lang sila ng Senado.

In other words, there is a “kinder side” to Manong Johnny’s character that no amount of disinformation and ‘demolition jobs’ thrown his way over the decades can discredit.

If given another chance, I am sure that Manong Johnny would not just be an “asset,” nay, he would be a “gem” needed by our Senate if it is to regain its status again as the chamber where the country’s ablest statesmen convene to chart the future of our country.

I am also sure that having lived this far and having achieved what no dirt-poor boy from Cagayan had achieved, his new Senate term would be wholly dedicated to serving the interest of our country and our countrymen.

And having also gone this far in praise of this truly remarkable man, here’s a reprint of one of his latest statements that found its way into my email:

“Calibrate taxes on energy -- Enrile”.

“Conceding that one can only do much in case of inflation, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, however, stressed that the level of taxation the government enforces in energy can be controlled to cushion its impact.

“Enrile said there are some other things that can be controlled amid the prevailing inflation.

Amid the implementation of the additional excise tax on fuel products this year, the former senator said that the government’s taxes on energy should be calibrated to soften the effect of inflation on the price level.

“Once you impose taxation on a commodity, especially gasoline and natural gas, it goes into the price of power that is used for production,” related the two-term Senate President who once served as Acting Secretary of Finance.

“It goes into the cost of transportation. It goes into the cost of so many other things, and that will pile up to bring up the price burden on the people,” he added.

But the veteran lawmaker who is eyeing a Senate comeback said there are other factors that are uncontrollable. He specifically mentioned the value of currency which he said is beyond anybody’s control.

“You have no control over the price of your inputs, which are produced outside of your legal jurisdiction, especially gasoline and natural gas,” said Enrile.

Easing the impact of inflation is among his focus if he wins in the coming May 2019 elections. His other concerns involved measures against criminality, insurgency, and measures to address consumer rights in telecommunications and other industries.

In an interview after filing his certificate of candidacy, Enrile said he wants the voters to understand the different issues hounding the country such as inflation, the rising price of gasoline, federalism, insurgency and scarcity of resources, and what the Philippines and the world would face in this century.

Despite his advanced age, Enrile said he still wants to find solutions to the problems of the country.

“From my experience, to be a senator, you must have a wide and deep intellectual background on your role. It’s not just about popularity. You must help to find solutions to the country’s problems,” he pointed out.

Enrile served in the Senate for four terms. His first term was from 1987 to 1992, during which he served as the lone minority member in the Senate. His second term was from 1995 to 2001; his third term was from 2004 - 2010 and his fourth was from 2010 - 2016.