Juan Ponce Enrile
Senate President JUAN PONCE ENRILE began his career in public service in 1966 when he joined the Executive Branch of government as Undersecretary of the Department of Finance. Shortly thereafter, he was made Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Philippine National Bank. Then he was designated as a concurrent Acting Head of the Insurance Commission. He also served as Acting Commissioner of Customs until December 1968. While he was in the Finance Department, he was appointed Acting Secretary of Finance and concurrent Chairman of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of the Philippines.
In December 1968, in recognition of his integrity and reputation held before the Philippine Bar, Juan Ponce Enrile was appointed Secretary of Justice where he served until February 9, 1970. The next day, he was appointed Secretary of National Defense until August 1971 when he resigned to run for the Philippine Senate. He was re-appointed Secretary of Defense in January 1972.
In 1986, he led the historic EDSA People Power Revolution that served as inspiration for subsequent bloodless revolutions all over the world. Together with idealistic members of the military and with the support of the Catholic church, people flocked to EDSA in solidarity to the man and his vision of restoring democracy to the nation.
He served in the Philippine Senate for three terms. His first term was from 1987 to 1992, during which he served as the lone Minority in the Senate. His second term was from 1995 to 2001, during which he was designated as Chairman of the Committees on Ways and Means, and Government Corporations and Public Enterprises. He also served in the House of Representatives from 1992 to 1995. During his incumbency, he gave priority to measures reviewing the performance of the power sector to promote consumer welfare; promoting competition among the industries; and the protection of the public from threats and acts of terrorism. His anti-terrorism bill was eventually enacted as the Human Security Act of 2007.
In 2004, inspired by the people's confidence in him, he sought to run for senator once again and, with an overwhelming vote, he was elected to the 13th Congress. He immediately resumed pursuing his major advocacies. He actively participated in plenary debates and was constantly vigilant over vital pieces of legislation taken up on the Floor, such as the Sin Taxes (RA 9334), Expanded Value Added Tax or EVAT (RA 9337), Biofuels Act (RA 9367), Amendments to the Automated Elections System (RA 9369), and the General Appropriations Act, among others. Rarely was a bill passed into law without being scrutinized and examined by Senator Enrile.
Faithful to his vow to expose and oppose any program or measure that he believes to be inimical to national interest, he delivered speeches inquiring into the status of the tax credit scam, on the anomalous banking transactions of the Standard Chartered Bank, and on the present state of the insurance industry, which became the bases for investigations conducted by the appropriate Senate committees. Furthermore, as a member of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, he participated in the inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the anomalies that have been taking place in Philcomsat and Philcomsat Holdings Corporation.
Senator Enrile assumed the chairmanship of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights following the re-organization of the Senate when the Third Regular Session began. Also in the Thirteenth Congress, Senator Enrile was designated as Vice Chairman of the Committees on National Defense and Security, and Banks, Currencies and Financial Institutions and a member of 15 other standing committees including Foreign Relations, Blue Ribbon, Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, Public Order and Illegal Drugs, among others. He was also the Chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Commission on Appointments.
Backed by the support, trust and confidence by his peers in the chamber, Senator Enrile was elected to the third highest post in the land as the Senate President. In all humility, he accepted the responsibility entrusted to him, saying that “To lead the Senate with its great minds, strong advocacies, varying and independent political beliefs and leanings, is not an easy task. But it is precisely this variance in points of view and the battle of great ideas that provide the dynamism we need to craft legislation that takes into account and balances the competing interests involved – with the end in view of serving the greater good of the people to whom we owe our mandate.”
With those words, and surely by his example, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile rekindled the wavering faith and hope of the people in the country’s legislature.