FFE Magazine

Jack Enrile bent on getting out the shadows of his father

MANILA, Philippines – Cagayan Rep. Juan “Jack” Ponce Enrile Jr. has been trying hard to get out of the shadow of his father, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. He wants to be his own man.

Father and son have taken opposite positions on at least two recent controversial issues – the reproductive health (RH) and the sin tax bills, both of which have been signed into law.

The elder Enrile was against the two measures, while his son supported and voted for them.

“I stand by my vote and I am proud of it. It was a vote of my conscience,” Jack said shortly after leaders of the Catholic Church launched a campaign against candidates who voted for the RH bill.

“If I earned the ire of the Catholic Church by voting yes to a bill that will now give women the right to decide for themselves, then so be it. I stand by my vote,” he said.

“The reproductive health bill does not kill, hunger does. There are 20 million Filipinos who are hungry every day. There is a looming world food crisis and in times of crisis, women and children are the most vulnerable,” he added.

The Senate aspirant pointed out the measure empowers Filipino women to decide what is best for themselves and their families.

“I have been to the most impoverished provinces in the country where families of 10 or more subsist daily on root crops and salt; if there are no root crops, just salt. These families do not have access to free health services. They lack education on reproductive health,” he said.

The young Enrile said 11 to 15 mothers in the country die every day due to maternity-related causes.

“How many more mothers will die while giving life because they do not have access to even the most basic of reproductive health services?” he asked.

Though he was a frequent absentee, Jack made sure to attend the sessions of the House last Dec. 12 and 17 to vote for the RH bill on its second and third or final readings. He also voted for the sin tax bill, though he wanted a lower revenue target.

Jack opted not to recycle his father’s promises and advocacies that catapulted him to victory in the 2004 and 2010 elections.

In 2004, the elder Enrile promised voters he would work for the reduction of electricity rates through his ‘Problema N’yo, Sagot Ko” campaign slogan.

Seeking re-election six years later, he promised to bring down the cost of text messaging, and assuring voters’ happiness through his “Gusto Ko, Happy Ka” mantra. Three years into his second term, the costs of electricity and text messaging remain high.

The younger Enrile has a different advocacy – to develop agriculture so the nation could attain food security and every Filipino would have food on the table.

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