Manila: Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile’s son Jackie Jr, a congressman and now a senatorial candidate, was responsible for shooting to death the son of a former Navy officer during a party altercation in 1975, said a TV report that quoted a Catholic priest, the uncle of the victim.
At a party held exclusively by students of the Ateneo University on September 20, 1975, a Catholic school, Jack “Jackie” Enrile asked Ernest Lucas, the son of Commander Ernesto Lucas of the Philippine Navy, who was not an Ateneo student, why he was at the party, Father Robert Reyes told GMA, a TV network
The young Lucas said he was at the party because of his sister, then the two had a heated argument. “Afterwards, Jackie goes back to the house and gets the gun from his aide and pumps a bullet into the forehead of my nephew,” said Father Reyes, known in Manila as the “running priest,” because of his penchant to run to raise people’s awareness on his advocacies.
This story came from sources at the time, Reyes said.
Later, Sgt. Danilo Cruz, a bodyguard, admitted shooting Lucas in defense of the young Enrile.
“There was a travesty of justice, there was whitewash, there were threats, and there was no sensible probe or investigation of the case,” Reyes concluded.
Earlier, WikieLeaks released and published a cable sent by former American Ambassador to the Philippines, William Sullivan, dated October 1975, which documented the statement of Philippine Chief State Prosecutor Rodolfo Nocon that homicide charges would not be filed against the young Enrile.
Nocon argued that the young Enrile neither executed any direct overt act that led to the death of Lucas, nor conspired with or ordered Cruz (the bodyguard) to kill Lucas, Sullivan observed.
In his message, Sullivan observed, “In cases of this importance, material witnesses are normally interrogated in person by [the] investigating fiscal…but Jackie did not even appear in person at hearings since he was attending classes.”
“Despite [Juan Ponce] Enrile’s protestations about not wishing [to] unduly influence his son’s case, handling of homicide charges against Enrile Jr appears rather rank,” was Sullivan’s assessment.
Sullivan also quoted sources from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as saying earlier that “both the Enrile boy and his bodyguard are liable to prosecution” for the death of the young Lucas.
The prosecution’s clearance of the young Enrile prompted Enrile Sr to return to work following a leave of absence while the case was under investigation.
At the same time, Sullivan claimed the incident could be linked to a power struggle between Enrile and former President Ferdinand Marcos three years after he established a Martial law rule in 1972.
“Senior Enrile’s prestige was diminished and doubt was cast on his standing with Marcos when his son was charged and [as a result] he went abroad,” said Sullivan.
In reaction to the declassified cables of Sullivan, the young Enrile said that Sullivan himself admitted that his report was based on “rumours and hearsay.”
Giving his own version of the incident, the young Enrile told DzBB last February that Lucas was drunk and lunged at him, which made his security aide to rush between the two of them.
When a shot was heard, he thought he was wounded because there was blood all over his body, recalled the young Enrile.
In his memoir entitled, “Juan Ponce Enrile,” the senate president said the incident was “one of the most painful and jolting experiences of my life”.
It was the Navy Commander who informed him about the incident, said Enrile, who said in his book, ““At that moment, I realized the gravity of the problem I faced. I was the secretary of national defense whose responsibility was to enforce all criminal laws, and my own son was involved in a crime. I was in quandary because I had not heard anything about the incident”.
“As a father, I love my son very much, but as a public officer, I must do my duty. If my son killed your son, he must answer for it under the law. I assure you that justice will be done,” Enrile said.
He tendered his resignation to defend his son, but Marcos did not accept the resignation, said Enrile, adding he spent two weeks in Japan, upon the recommendation of Marcos, while the case was being investigated.
“I refrained absolutely from any involvement in the handling of their cases. The only thing I did was to provide them with the best available defence lawyers at the time and to let the law take its course,” Enrile narrated.