MANILA – The uncle of murder victim Ernest Lucas Jr. insists there is basis to claims that Jack Enrile killed Lucas because there were witnesses to the shooting.
Activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes is the uncle of Lucas Jr. and a cousin of Lucas’ father, retired Navy Capt. Ernesto Lucas. Reyes was sued for libel by the Enriles in 2000 for speaking up about the Lucas case but the lawsuit has been provisionally dismissed in 2011.
Reyes said he and his relatives have always believed that it was Jack Enrile, and not his security aide, who killed the young Lucas at a party in San Lorenzo Village, Makati in 1975.
Enrile, who is running for senator in next month’s elections, has vehemently denied the accusations.
According to Reyes, Lucas Jr., 17, was ordered by his mother to go to the party to check on his sister. Enrile, however, told Lucas to leave because the soiree was exclusively for Ateneo and St. Paul high school students.
Reyes said when Lucas went back to pick up his sister, Jack allegedly took his security aide Danilo Cruz's gun and shot Lucas in the forehead.
Two of Lucas’ friends witnessed the shooting, the priest said.
"Wala pong gatecrashing, walang pambabastos na ginawa ang aking pamangkin. Pero dahil 'di nagustuhan ni Jackie ang pagbalik niya, bumalik si Jackie sa loob ng bahay. Paglabas niya dala na niya ang baril ng aide niya. Doon na pinaputok ang baril," he told radio dzMM.
"Hours or a day pagkatapos po na mapaslang ang aking pamangkin, ang itinuturo na nakabaril sa aking pamangkin ay si Jackie. Kasi merong mga testigo nung nangyari yun -- dalawang kasamahan na kaibigan ng aking pamangkin na nakita kung sino ang bumaril," he added.
Reyes said the two witnesses revised their stories a week later after Cruz claimed that he shot Lucas. The witnesses later disappeared, giving a serious blow to the case.
Bodyguard was never jailed
In a previous interview, Enrile insisted that it was his bodyguard who shot Lucas after the latter allegedly made a ruckus outside the party in San Lorenzo Village.
He said he and a friend, Sonny, went out to confront Lucas, not knowing that Enrile’s bodyguard was following them.
“We proceeded to approach Ernest. It was nice. At that point, he was drunk. I did not know that my bodyguard was following me. He was eating inside. He followed me and I did not know.’
“I was talking to Ernest. There was no heated argument but when he jumped on the hood of the car, Danny put himself between me and him. There were four of them and it was Sonny and I. Danny put himself in front of me and something just popped. And then all of a sudden Danny stepped back and I saw blood on myself,” he said in an ANC interview.
Reyes, however, said it was not true that Enrile’s bodyguard went outside during the party. He claimed it was the young Enrile who went back inside the house, got his bodyguard’s firearm and then went out to shoot Lucas.
“Ang sabi ng witnesses, wala pong Danny Cruz sa eksena at ang may hawak ng baril ay si Jackie,” he said.
Reyes, also said Enrile’s bodyguard was never jailed for the crime, noting that it was a military court that handled the case.
"Wala na. Pagkatapos noon, nothing about Danny Cruz. Wala na pong nag-pursue ng kaso. Yung aking mga pinsan ay nanahimik na lang po. Ang buong pamilya ay nawala na lang po," he said.
"Nakasuhan [si Cruz], pero nawala lang po. Nailipat daw ng assignment, pero 'di po talaga nakulong," he added.
Killing fractured Lucas family
He also revealed that except for Lucas’ father, the entire Lucas family went to the United States just a few months after the murder. He said Lucas Sr., 85, is still alive and living in the Philippines.
“Malaking gastos po yun, naiwanan siya para magbayad ng utang po. Ang malungkot po – nagkahiwalay yung pamilya nila. Yung pamilya, asawa at lahat ng anak niya nagpunta ng America at siya ay naiwan,” he said.
Reyes said it was not farfetched to think that the Lucas family chose to flee to the United States rather than talk about Lucas’ murder because the Enriles were very powerful. Jack’s father, Juan Ponce Enrile, was secretary of national defense of President Marcos at the time of the killing.
“Masyadong masakit po na pangyayari na pinili na nilang iwanan at talikuran at pati yung pagbalik sa Pilipinas, hindi na rin sila nakabalik sa ating bansa,” he said.
“Hindi po malayo na natatakot kasi napatay po ang aking pamangkin nung panahon na masyadong makapangyarihan ang ating senador dahil si Senator Enrile nung panahon na yun ay secretary of national defense,” he added.
In the interview, the activist priest debunked the older Enrile’s claim that he is a friend of the Lucas family.
He said it was true that Lucas Sr. approached Enrile at a hotel in Cebu right after the killing and told him: “Your son killed my son.”
“If they were really friends, [Enrile] should have done something for his friend. [Jackie] was never charged, he was able to finish his studies in Ateneo. He was 4th year high school then. Parang walang nangyari pero ang pamilya nagkawatak-watak,” he said.
Lucas Sr. speaks
Reyes also revealed that Lucas Sr. gave a deposition before a Quezon City regional trial court judge in 2009 after the Enriles sued Reyes for libel for talking about the Lucas case.
He said Lucas Sr. decided to give a deposition since he was already old and wanted to tell his side about his son’s death.
“Before I die, I want to say that the one who killed my son is Jackie Enrile,” Lucas Sr. told the court.
Reyes said QCRTC judge “provisionally” dismissed the libel case against him in 2011 after the Enriles never bothered to show up in court.
"Kung hindi na mag-iingay ang mga Enrile, two years thereafter, totally dismissed na. Kaya lang baka mag-reklamo na naman. Kaya wala akong problema sa pagre-reklamo nila. Noon pa ako handang humarap kay Jackie sa korte para ipaliwanag nila, sila mismo," he said.
US envoy doubted Lucas probe
The Lucas case again caught media attention after anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks released diplomatic cables showing then US Ambassador to the Philippines William Sullivan doubting the Marcos government’s investigation into the murder of Lucas Jr.
In one leaked cable, Sullivan said the younger Enrile did not even appear in person at the hearings in the Lucas case since he was "attending classes."
It also noted that government prosecutors relied on Enrile's deposition and decided not to press charges against him.
The US ambassador, in cable 1975MANILA13806_b, said unnamed "NBI sources have told us unequivocally... that Enrile's son did the shooting."
On Thursday, Enrile issued a statement again saying that he was innocent in the Lucas killing. “Charges were filed, the case was properly heard in courts, and the suspect was tried and later sentenced to 12 years in prison which he served,” he said.
The United Nationalist Alliance also came to Enrile's defense, saying that Sullivan’s information was based on rumors.
"He admitted it was based on rumors circulating at that time. In short, tsismis lang, and the former ambassador was being 'tsismoso' when he passed on to Washington this piece of gossip,” UNA secretary general and campaign manager Toby Tiangco said. With a report by David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com