Manong Johnny, Jinggoy and Bong-A A +A
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
THE siege on Zamboanga City by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces momentarily took a backseat yesterday when
the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed complaints against businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, some lawmakers and other government officials and heads of Napoles-linked non-government organizations (NGOs).
Like many others, I considered as attention-grabber the plunder case filed against Napoles and five lawmakers, including Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada. They are what can be considered as legitimate “big fishes” snagged in the pork barrel scam.
Of the three, I am most interested in the latest version of Enrile’s fall. Enrile is already 89 years old and has been in politics for eons already, which means that he has gone through several peaks and valleys. His latest fall, though, is rather steep.
It seems like only yesterday (actually, early last year), when Enrile presided over the impeachment trial of then Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona. He showed his legal acumen in the hearings, which were aired live on national television, and was admired because of it. Surveys showed an upward spurt in his popularity and approval ratings.
His popularity started to dip in late 20012 when he got embroiled in conflicts with fellow senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and siblings Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano. The feud reached its lowest point when Enrile’s tirade against the Cayetanos included a slur on their father, the late lawyer Renato Cayetano.
In the May 2013 elections, Enrile’s son Jack (Juan Ponce Enrile Jr.) lost in his bid for a Senate seat. A month after the elections, “Manong Johnny” resigned as Senate president when it became apparent that administration senators and their allies were already in control of the Upper Chamber. Now this: the probability of going to jail in
the next few days.
But Enrile is a survivor. He survived the transition from the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos to the return of bourgeois politics, even surfacing as hero of the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising. He survived the backlash over attempts to topple the administration of Corazon Aquino through bloody coups tries.
Will he, in his old age, survive this time around?
Sens. Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. are close friends, together with actor Philip Salvador. Their link is Philippine showbiz. Estrada and Revilla are also sons of actors-turned-politicians, Joseph Estrada in the case of Jinggoy and Ramon Revilla in the case of Bong. But Jinggoy is the more “experienced” when it comes to court cases.
Jinggoy was included in the plunder case filed against his father after the older Estrada was ousted from the presidency in 2001. Jinggoy was jailed but was eventually granted bail, which meant that the case against him was weak. He was subsequently acquitted.
This can partly account for the seeming smugness with which Jinggoy reacted to the plunder complaint filed yesterday by the Department of Justice in connection with the Janet Napoles-Lim pork barrel scam.
"Nais ko pong ipaalam sa inyo na nakahanda akong harapin lahat ng mga bintang at paratang laban sa akin,” he said in a press con. Revilla, on the other hand, was described by reporters as “emotional.”
The turn of events is painful for him because, unlike Jinggoy, he is a big draw as an actor. This can partly be attributed to his success in maintaining for himself a wholesome image. He is married to the equally popular actress Lani Mercado, who is on her second term as member of the House of Representatives. The case plus a jail term would be damaging to Bong both as senator and as an actor.
But then, that’s what crime and punishment are all about.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 17, 2013.