Wenceslao: Enrile, Butz Aquino, Susan Roces

THE biggest national story in the past days is the Supreme Court allowing Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is facing the non-bailable charge of plunder, to post bail.

SC spokesperson Theodore Te refused to elaborate on the 8-4 ruling although the senator’s old age and frail health had been used by Enrile’s lawyers to support his plea to be allowed to post bail. Enrile is 91.

I actually didn’t squirm when I heard the report on the SC ruling. Enrile, unlike the other senators charged with plunder--Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla--is really old and frail. What I am just worrying is that with him free he can go back to the Senate and use the power at his disposal to strengthen his defense.

Worse is if this sets a precedent. What if the SC ruling will pave the way for the eventual release on bail also of Estrada and Revilla? That will be the day.

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The major players in the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising are heading one by one to the great beyond. The latest to do so is Agapito “Butz” Aquino, brother of the late former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and uncle of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. He passed away on Aug. 17, or four days before the 32nd anniversary of Ninoy’s assassination on Aug. 21. He was 76.

Butz was an actor in his younger years, but the direction of his life changed with the murder of his brother by minions of then dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He was among those who formed the August Twenty-One Movement (Atom) that played a big role in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. That struggle peaked in February of 1986 and resulted in the ouster of the dictator from power.

As a young man who was in the periphery of that movement, I viewed with admiration the leaders of the open struggle against a ruthless regime even if they belonged to a chunk of the ruling class disenfranchised by Marcos’s declaration of military rule in 1972, his padlocking of Congress and his arrogating all governmental powers unto himself. These members of the ruling class also risked their lives in battling the dictatorship.

Every struggle needs to acquire a face and these people, starting from Ninoy’s widow Cory down the line gave one to the anti-dictatorship movement. It’s just unfortunate that after the struggle was won and bourgeois democracy was restored, its ideals have been largely forgotten, remembered only during annual celebrations and, yes, when its leading personalities die.

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The mother of Sen. Grace Poe, veteran actress Susan Roces, defended her daughter from her critics and from those questioning the senator’s citizenship and residency. Roces, who is in her seventies, last surfaced in public consciousness when she lambasted former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was accused of cheating her way to the presidency against Roces’s husband, the late king of Philippine movies Fernando Poe Jr.

It’s good that somebody has come out to passionately defend Poe, who has been targeted by critics not only because she is the front-runner among presidential contenders in surveys but also because she seemed set on running for president next year. But Roces must not get too emotional because what she is seeing now is just for starters.

Other presidential contenders in the past were subjected to the same treatment. Roces must have seen how then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino was ruthlessly pilloried and how false stories were woven to bring him down. Wait until Poe is at the receiving end of claims as serious as being autistic, claims that are designed to put doubts in her capacity to lead the nation.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

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