By Alyssa Rola, CNN Philippines
Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he is both “physically and mentally fit” as he eyes a return to the Senate in 2019.
In an interview with CNN Philippines News Night on Tuesday, Enrile sent a message to detractors, saying there would be no hindrance for him to serve the public.
“All I can say is physically, I am fit to serve. Mentally, I am more than fit to serve,” he said.
The 94-year-old is eyeing a Senate comeback as he filed — through his lawyer Atty. Joseph Sagandoy — a certificate of candidacy for the 2019 midterm polls. Enrile will be running as an independent.
Asked what sparked his decision to run, Enrile said he wanted to “join in the talks” and push discussions on federalism.
“Pinag-aralan ko ‘yun, sinuri ko ‘yung draft, at nakita ko na maraming gaps, maraminginconsistencies,” he said.
[Translation: I reviewed the draft (federal constitution), and I saw there were many gaps and inconsistencies.]
Enrile first ran for the Senate in 1987. He was reelected in 1995, 2004, and 2010.
Before joining the legislature, he served in various Cabinet positions, including Defense Minister during the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law rule in the 1970s-1980s.
Meanwhile, netizens have pointed out an error in his document — one Enrile acknowledged himself — wherein the former senator was listed as a “businesswoman.”
While his legal counsel previously fixed the error by removing the “wo” in “woman”, Enrile said he has decided to just refile on Wednesday.
Past, present controversies
Enrile was among lawmakers slapped with plunder and graft charges for alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
He was ordered arrested in 2014 after he was implicated by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, who was accused of funneling ₱10 billion in public funds funds into fake nongovernment organizations. In 2015, the Supreme Court allowed Enrile to post bail.
The former Senate President meanwhile told CNN Philippines he remains “innocent until proven guilty” in the case.
Former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, the two others allegedly involved in the scam, are also running for the Senate.
Enrile said he is also ready to engage in public discussions in the wake of criticisms against him — including his controversial video with former Senator Bongbong Marcos.
“Raise all the issues, I am ready to answer them publicly. If you want to debate with me publicly, I am willing to engage you. I’m ready to face anybody on a debate on any issue involving our country,” he said.