MANILA, Philippines - In his memoir, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile rarely mentioned the time he spent with his family -- and blamed it on his work.
In fact, he was remorseful that he has not been much of a husband to Cristina and a hands-on father to their two children, Jack and Katrina.
“I realized later in my life that I failed my wife as a husband and both my children as a father for not spending more time with them. I was too busy and preoccupied with my work and with my effort to provide for their material well-being," he wrote.
And when he realized this mistake, Enrile noted that “it was too late for me to make amends.”
As a public personality, Enrile admitted his family has always been dragged into the issues he was embroiled in. Because of his stature, his family was not exempt from “the viciousness of the threats” against him.
He recounted, for example, when Katrina, then seven years old, was almost kidnapped. From then on, he said he never allowed his children to go out without security.
Though he won’t admit it, Enrile also unwittingly disclosed how his position helped his family in times of troubles. These proved he was still the hands-on father to his two kids.
In his memoir, Enrile described as “one of the most painful and jolting experiences of my life” a crime tagged to his son Jack.
This was apart from the sensational Alfie Anido case that made the rounds in newspapers despite the restricted press in those days.
Enrile insisted that Anido, his daughter’s boyfriend in the early 1980s, killed himself and that the scandal linking Jack to the alleged murder of the movie star was created by “attack dogs” led by the late Armed Forces chief Fabian Ver.
Unlike the Anido case, however, an older crime linked to his son did not create much media mileage.
While eating breakfast at a hotel in Cebu on September 21, 1975, a man approached him and said: “Mr. Secretary, your son killed my son.”
The man repeated the same words to him. Enrile recalled: “There was no sign of anger or hostility from the man. However, I noticed that the man was looking very sad, as though he was about to shed tears.”
He later learned the man talking to him was a subordinate, Commander Ernesto Lucas of the Philippine Navy.
Lucas’ son Ernest, a fourth year high school student at La Salle, was killed during an exclusive party at San Lorenzo Village in Makati.
“I took off immediately for Manila in my military plane. En route to Manila, I thought about the problem of my son. I decided to quit my job as Secretary of National Defense and defend my son,” Enrile remembered.
Some high school boys from Ateneo invited girls from St. Paul’s College during that fateful party. The young Lucas was with three other male companions when he accompanied his sister to the party.
Jack supposedly approached Ernest and told them the party was exclusively for Ateneans. Ernest and his friends supposedly left the party in a foul mood.
He later returned around midnight to fetch his sister. Jack, with his security aide in tow, thought they went back to make trouble.
In his own words, Enrile said: “When Jack talked to Ernest Lucas, one word led to another and a heated argument ensued between Ernest Lucas and Jack. Suddenly, PC Sgt. Danilo Cruz, fired his gun, and Ernest Lucas was hit right in his forehead. He died in the hospital a few hours later.”
When he found out about the “story,” Enrile said he then decided to file his resignation to preclude any suspicions in the minds of the public. Marcos did not agree and told him to just take a leave of absence.
Enrile later engaged the services of high-caliber lawyers for his son and aide. He then went to Japan, where he kept track of the case.
He was only out for almost two weeks. “I returned to the country only after I learned from my office in the DND that my son was not included in the charge filed in court for the death of Ernest Lucas,” he wrote.
It was the aide who was convicted in the end.
“I felt truly sorry for Sgt. Danilo Cruz. I wanted to help him. But I did not and could not, in the same manner that I did not and could not help my own son,” he said.
Today, the relationship of the father and son is stronger compared to before. In an earlier interview, Jack admitted he is closer to his father now that he is of age.
The younger Enrile admitted he was a bad boy in the past but denied he ever killed anyone, including Anido. He said the Filipino public will finally get to see him a changed person.
"It's always the ambition of a son to follow in the footsteps of a great father. I hope I can live up to his successes. If I do half of what he has done, I consider my political career a success," he had said.
"Juan Ponce Enrile, A Memoir" is published by ABS-CBN Publishing and is available in National Book Store branches nationwide.