Juan Ponce Enrile

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Juan Ponce Enrile
Juan Ponce Enrile
Senator of the Philippines
1987–1992, 19952001, 2004–incumbent
Secretary of Finance (Acting)
Secretary of Justice
Secretary/Minister of National Defense
Representative, 1st District of Cagayan
Assemblyman, Region II
Senate President of the Philippines
2008–5 June 2013
Political Party: Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (2001- )
Independent/LP (1995-2001)
Nacionalista (1965-1972);(1987-1995)
|KBL (1978-1986)
Born: February 14, 1924
Gonzaga, Cagayan
Spouse: Cristina Castañer

Juan Ponce Enrile (born 14 February 1924) is a political figure in the Philippines. Originally a protege of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, he later became a leader in the 1986 People Power Movement that ousted Marcos from power. He served as president of the Philippine Senate from November 2008 until his resignation on 5 June 2013.


Early life and career

Enrile (Juanito Furagganan) was born in Gonzaga, Cagayan to the daughter of a poor fisherman. He was born out of wedlock—his father was the powerful regional politician and renowned lawyer Alfonso Enrile who was already married. In 1949, he graduated cum laude with an Associate in Arts degree at Ateneo de Manila University. He took up a Bachelor of Laws degree and graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines. In the 1953 board examinations, he ended up with the 11th highest score with a 91.72% rating and a perfect score in Commercial Law. He became a scholar at Harvard Law School where he earned the degree Master of Laws with specialized training in International Tax. He taught law at Far Eastern University and was a partner in his father’s law firm before taking responsibility for then-senator Marcos’s personal legal affairs in 1964. After Marcos was elected president in 1965, Enrile became part of his inner circle. He was a professor at the same university from 1955-1962.

Marcos' inner circle

Before his work with Pres. Marcos, Enrile was a senior partner at the Ponce Enrile Siguion Reyna Montecillo, Belo and Ongsiako Law Offices. From 1966 to 1968, he was the undersecretary and Acting Secretary of the Department of Finance. He served concurrently as the acting Insurance Commissioner and Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Monetary Board Chairman. From 1968 to 1970, he became the Secretary of the Department of Justice. In 1970, he was appointed as Secretary of the Department of National Defense for 17 years. In 1972, one of Marcos's reasons for the declaration of Martial Lawwas terrorism—particularly the bombing of Enrile's car. In 1973, Enrile's title became Defense Minister. As Defense Minister, he presided over the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, making him one of the prime architects of Marcos's martial rule. As a requirement for his position as part of the cabinet under the parliamentary system, he ran and won as Assemblyman and represented Cagayan Valley in the Interim Batasang Pambansa in 1978.

People Power 'hero'

After opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. was assassinated in 1983, Enrile became fearful for his safety. As the Marcos dictatorship became increasingly unpopular, Enrile began aligning himself with dissident elements in the army, particularly the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). Officers from this group, with Enrile’s support, moved to launch a coup d’état against Marcos in February 1986. Marcos was alerted to the plot, and the conspirators took refuge in two military camps. From there, Enrile and Fidel Ramos, the head of the Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police), rallied opponents against Marcos in a citizen revolt that became known as the People Power Movement. At the same time, Enrile revealed details of the public deception he had perpetuated while serving in Marcos’s government. This included being aware of fraudulent votes in the 1986 presidential election and faking an assassination attempt on his own life in 1972, which provided Marcos a justification for declaring martial law. Enrile emerged as one of the perceived “heroes” of the People Power Movement, although reasons for his involvement with the movement were highly disputed. In the post-martial law era, rumors spread that Ramos and Enrile were among the conspirators in the assassination of Ninoy Aquino.

Conflicts with Aquino

He served as minister of national defense under Corazon Aquino, who replaced Marcos as president, but Enrile increasingly disagreed with Aquino. She forced Enrile to resign as defense minister in November 1986. In May 1987 he was elected as one of two opposition members of the country’s 24-member Senate alongside Joseph Estrada under Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD). In August 1987, a coup against Aquino escalated leading to the destruction of the Armed Forces headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. He was detained in house-type quarters in Camp Aguinaldo over suspicions of planning the coup with Gregorio Honasan. He was released several days later due to lack of evidence.

Election bid

In 1992, Enrile predicted that he may end up losing the senatorial election or winning but lasting only three years in office. Under the transitory provisions of the 1987 constitution, the first 12 candidates who received the highest votes won a 6 year term, while the next 12 would only serve 3 years. He ran instead as congressman. He won the election and represented the 1st District of Cagayan. In 1995, he ran as independent for the second time as senator under the Lakas-Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino|Laban coalition. He won and held the position until 2001. While active in his position as senator, he ran as independent in the 1998 elections for the position of President. He lost, however, to Vice President Joseph Estrada.


On 13 January 2001, he was one of the people who voted against the opening of the controversial second bank envelope. That vote led to the second EDSA People Power Revolution that ousted President Joseph Estrada. In May 2001, he was invited by the military for the investigation of the unsuccessful siege of the Malacañang Palace by pro-Estrada forces. He was released a day after. He ran for reelection as part of the Puwersa ng Masa coalition. Due to the issues that haunted him during the failed siege, he lost the his reelection bid.

2004 elections

In the 2004 elections, Enrile made a comeback bid for the Senate under the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP). He actively opposed the imposition of Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA) on consumers' electric bills. Due to his exposé on the PPA and the Supreme Court decision for a refund on electric bills, he received a positive response from the public and won the election. He became one of the senators who won the position for three non-consecutive terms.

Independent senator

Enrile is affiliated with the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). Technically, he belongs to an opposition party, but at the Senate, he stands as independent and is part of the administration bloc. The minority bloc includes all of his party mates.

2010 senatorial bid

On the afternoon of 15 May 2010, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has proclaimed Enrile as one of the nine senators to be elected in the 2010 Philippine general elections.

Campaign manifesto

The précis of Enrile's lobby for reelection “Gusto ko happy ka! (I want you to be happy!)” has elicited the amusement from many, but Enrile insisted that the simple catchphrase is reflective of “the pursuit of happiness” as the “essence of human existence and of the government.” He added that the “people who laugh at [his] slogan do not understand its political basis,” that by “improving the health of the people. . . provid[ing] them with schools, jobs. . . you are increasing their level of happiness.”

  • Power-consumption

Enrile aims to address the “unreasonable and excessive Purchasing Power Adjustment (PPA) charges,” by pushing for the amendment of the Republic Act (RA) No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). He also targets to:

    • Eliminate provisions in the EPIRA that favor giant power firms and to install safeguards for the consumers against the abusive and predatory practices of power utilities.
    • Revise EPIRA in order to institutionalize transparency and curb the Energy Regulatory Commission practice of granting provisional authorities to power utilities to increase electricity rates.
    • Initiate, through the Joint Congressional Power Commission, an inquiry into the status of the review of all Independent Power Producers (IPP) contracts mandated under Section 68 of the EPIRA to ensure that IPP contracts found to be onerous are immediately rescinded and that parties responsible for such contracts are charged.
    • Review Meralco's mega franchise and investigate power utility entities that are grantees of government franchises which have demonstrably failed to adhere to the terms of their franchises and abused the same to the detriment of the consuming public.
  • Public utilities

With the enactment of laws on extending the expiration date of pre-paid cellphone credits and resolving the problem of disappearing credits, Enrile vowed to “expand his consumer protection crusade to cover other public utilities.” This includes the text and voice call price reduction, which was earlier met with complaints filed by telecommunications companies. The charges were dropped and Enrile ascertained that the companies will have no choice but comply with the mandate of the National Telecommunications Commission. He also aimed to “actively pursue the passage of a new Anti-Trust and Unfair Trade Practices Act to enact a statute that can address and effectively curb monopolies and cartels, especially in vital utilities and industries.” This law is a follow-up on the Anti-Trust Law that Enrile has passed to protect consumers from price abuse.

  • Taxes

Enrile said that with nearly 32% corporate and individual income tax rate, the Philippines is still a far cry from becoming a “tax haven.” Aside from enacting a law that awards certain tax exemptions to Overseas Filipino Workers, Filipinos residing abroad, AND Filipinos who sell their house to buy a new one, Enrile targets to file a bill that will “undertake a gradual and programmed reduction of income taxes over a period of time.” Once a law, it is expected “to ease the tax burden on ordinary income earners and businesses and to spur economic activity in the country.”

Personal life

Johnny, as he is often called, is married to Cristina Castañer, a Spanish national. They have two children: Juan Jr. and Katrina. Juan Jr. is currently a congressman representing the 1st District of Cagayan. Katrina is the current CEO of Jaka Group, Enrile's company. The Jaka group owns the Philippine Match Company, the Philippines's leading maker of matches.

One of the architects of martial law

Political writer Alexander Remollino cites Juan Ponce Enrile as one of the architects of martial law. In a TV interview in 1991, Enrile claimed, "I am the author of martial law." He had boasted in a number of media interviews of having issued a number of arrests and search and seize orders during the Marcos regime against oppositionists, including political figures, members of the media, student and labor activists, and members of left-wing groups. Whether these orders were also for torture and execution is being argued by his friends and enemies alike. Political writer and analyst Alfred McCoy, in his speech "Dark Legacy: Human Rights Under the Marcos Regime" on 20 September 1999, said that because of the peculiar state of Philippine culture and politics, the country has been "turning cronies into statesmen, torturers into legislators, and killers into generals."

C5 controversy

The C-5 controversy refers to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s accusation that Senator Manny Villar had initiated the double entry in the national budget for the extension of the C-5 road in the cities of Parañaque and Las Piñas. Villar has been accused of benefiting from the C-5 extension project as this passed through the property Golden Haven Royal Park, which is owned by his real estate firm. This triggered the coup on Villar's presidency in the Senate, resulting to Enrile's succession as Senate President.

Vanishing load

After complaining that his mobile phone prepaid credits seemed to be vanishing without his having used it, Enrile caused the Senate to investigate the matter. This led to the issuance of Memorandum Circular 04-07-2009 which prohibited the mass sending of spam messages and extended the expiration dates of mobile phone credits. Mobile phone content providers are currently protesting the memorandum and seeking to defer its implementation.

Senate Presidency

Due to lack of support, Senate President Manuel Villar resigned on 17 November 2008 and Enrile succeeded him the same day. He was nominated by Panfilo Lacson. Fourteen senators supported the nomination while five abstained. Under his leadership, the Senate passed the CARP Extension, Anti-Torture Act, Expanded Senior Citizens Act, Anti-Child Pornography Act, National Heritage Conservation Act, Real Estate Investment Act, among many others. To improve the daily conduct of business and the welfare of its officers and employees, the Senate also implemented institutional reforms. He was re-elected President of the Senate on 26 July 2010.

Feuds and controversies

Enrile was the presiding officer in the impeachment of Chief Justice of the Philippines Renato Corona. He was one of the senators who voted guilty for the impeachment. In September 2012, he became involved in a feud with Antonio Trillanes IV when he questioned Trillanes's secret visit to Beijing to talk about the Philippines's ongoing dispute with China over the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal. Trillanes defended that his visit was authorized by the Palace. In late 2012, Enrile started a feud with Miriam Defensor Santiago when he oppposed Santiago's authored bill, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 with Pia Cayetano. In January 2013, Santiago exposed that Enrile allegedly gave P1.6 million each to his fellow senators except for Pia Cayetano, Alan Peter Cayetano and Trillanes, who have only been given P250,000 each. Enrile said that these were given as part of the balance of the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) funds allowed per senator. Due to controversies involving him, Enrile attempted to vacate his position on 21 January 2013 but his motion was rejected. Enrile stepped down as Senate President, amid accusations against him, after his privilege speech on 5 June 2013. In his speech, Enrile blamed his rivals and the criticisms hurled against him as the reason behind his son's Jack Enrile 's defeat in the 2013 midterm elections. He said, “As a father, I endured in silence the pain of seeing my son suffer because of me. He carried on his shoulders the weight of all the mud thrown against me. As I stayed and watched quietly by the sidelines, my heart bled for him.” Enrile added that all issues of transparency, accountability and propriety should not be forgotten. He said that his colleagues should explain directly to the people who elected them and to account for their own budgets.


  • Avendaño, Christine. "War erupts on Senate floor: Villar vs Lacson" [2] (accessed 12 May 2009)
  • Jimenez, Fidel. "Rep. Villar admits being affected by ‘road to nowhere’ controversy" [3] (accessed 12 May 2009)
  • Quismundo, Tarra and Avendaño, Christine. "Enrile in, Villar out in Senate coup" [4] (accessed 12 May 2009)
  • Tan, Fidelis. Disappearing load to cease (accessed July 21, 2009)
  • NPC to announce 2010 bets this month Philippine Star (accessed 10 March 2010)
  • ^ "Sotelo, Yolanda Enrile: 'Gusto ko happy ka' is serious stuff," Philippine Daily Inquirer (accessed 23 April 2010)
  • Legislative Agenda, juanponceenrile.com (accessed 23 April 2010)
  • Transcript of interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, senate.gov (accessed 23 April 2010)
  • Comelec proclaims 9 Senators. (Accessed 17 May 2010).
  • “Enrile resigns Senate presidency”.Rappler.(Accessed on 24 June 2013).
  • Sy, Marvin.“Enrile resigns as Senate president”.philSTAR.com.(Accessed on 24 June 2013).