WITH nothing much to do and to avoid being gravely affected by the adverse events that had hounded him particularly in the last six years, he kept himself fit by swimming near the beaches of his home province facing the Philippine Sea.
Here in Metro Manila, he would take to brisk walking covering over one kilometer every morning (2,000 steps) and to keep boredom at bay, would take to “devouring books,” particularly on economy, politics, geography, demography, history -- and any other book lying around -- at a rate of at least one book each week (covering 50 pages in one sitting).
He was never known to be a drinker, considering his age today, but gamely told his guests, “I’ll drink with you if you want,” while munching lots of peanuts (rich in uric acid, by the way) placed in front of him.
And to make sure he still retains his memory all these years, he would take to reciting the lines of the ‘Ruibayat,’ a “quadrant” running over 100 stanzas attributed to the 11-century Persian (Iranian) polymath and poet, ‘Omar Khayyam’ (1048-1131) and which was first translated into English in 1859 by Edward Fitzgerald.
It is no wonder then, that thru this kind of “system” that he has adopted, he can still eat any kind of food that a man of his age would even be “forbidden” by doctors to see, much less taste, and the only “advise” he has “heeded” is yes, Juan, he has to “limit” his rice intake to one cup each day.
Turning 95 this coming February 14, the country’s longest-serving defense secretary and former Senate President, Juan Ponce Enrile, said he is again “ready” for another six years of active political life.
Meeting with a group of select Senate reporters last Wednesday, February 6, Enrile, also known as “JPE” or “Manong Johnny,” said that he is running for the Senate this coming May 13, not to “redeem” himself in the eyes of Filipinos.
He is running because the country still has many problems to solve and that he is still in the position to help the government and our country.
“Let our people judge me,” as he brushed aside the notion that he is seeking re-election as a way of “clearing” his name from all the issues that has been attached to him, especially the issue of his involvement in the PDAF scandal in 2013.
That scandal sent him and senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla into detention the following year (the SC in 2015 granted his motion for bail).
And of the many “problems” that kept him restless since his “retirement” from politics, the long- term stability of the country’s energy requirements, he said, would be among his advocacies -- if he is returned to the Senate.
“We must find our own indigenous sources so we would not be totally dependent (on imports),” adding a “commission” should be “created” to look into the whole range of issues affecting the country’s energy sector.
Then too, he said the administration’s proposed bill on the shift to ‘Federalism’ drafted by a ‘constitutional commission’ created by PDU30 would also need a lot of review and revision.
In JPE’s view, the proposal, as presently worded, would create an “absolute dictatorship” by the ‘Transition Commission’ headed by the President. “I have sent my comments (on Federalism) to the President (Duterte), he said.
He said it took him over a month to make his “annotations” on the report of the commission before sending it out to Malacañang and to the members of the commission, which was headed by former chief justice, Reynato Puno.
Manong Johnny also criticized the “immutable” Constitution proposed by the commission, which, once approved, could no longer be amended, stressing that “future generations” should not be “deprived” of their right to amend the Federalist Constitution.
Worse, JPE fears that Federalism would lead to the loss of “national cohesion” given that geographically, the country is already “fragmented” owing to us being an archipelago.
He also opined that the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), is already “sufficient” to address the lament of Muslim Mindanao that they are always being “left out” out in the national development agenda.
Still, he voiced his concern that the BOL may not also address the long-festering problem of peace and order in Mindanao, especially with the rise of “extremists” among Muslims.
“I have my reservations,” he added, as he also recited -- from memory -- the “history” of the ‘separatist movement’ in the South.
But if there is one area where Manong Johnny is in agreement with Malacañang is on the ‘independent’ foreign policy being pursued by Pres. Duterte, especially how the Chief Executive is dealing with China, that is, thru bilateral talks.
“Tama” (correct) ang ginagawa ng Presidente,” he told this writer.
Enrile also ridiculed the President’s critics on the West Philippine Sea issue. “They don’t know what they are talking about,” he said.
For in the sphere of ‘geo-politics’ it is not the ‘rule of law’ but always, “the rule of force.”
And of course, when there were times he wants to “relax” after long hours of reading or writing, he would sooth his body with a “spread” of ‘cannabis oil’ behind his neck and ears.
Translation? JPE favors the use of marijuana for medical purpose, ayos, ‘di ba, kasamang Arman Nocum, hehehe!