JUAN PONCE ENRILE earned his Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines in 1953. He graduated cum laude and salutatorian. He took his oath as a member of the Philippine Bar in 1954. He ranked No. 11 among the successful bar candidates with a rating of 91.72%, one of the highest in the history of the Bar. He made a perfect score of 100% in Commercial Law. He took post-graduate studies at the Harvard Law School where he obtained his Master of Laws degree in 1955, specializing in taxation and corporate reorganization.
He practiced law for twelve years from 1954 to 1966 as a law partner at the Ponce Enrile, Siguion Reyna, Montecillo, Belo and Ongsiako Law Offices. He also served as a Professor of Law at the Far Eastern University - College of Law from 1956 to 1964.
In January 1966, the young Enrile began his career in the public service which would last for nearly forty years, Recognized for his expertise in tax matters, he was appointed Undersecretary of Finance at the beginning of 1966. 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. As such, he revised many of the rules and regulations in the Insurance Commission with the end in view of making the industry more transparent and stable. As proof of its relevance, many of these rules and regulations issued during his incumbency are still included in the current Insurance Code. 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.
On February 10, 1970, 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 model 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 two 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.
In the legislature, Senator Enrile focused his efforts at refining fiscal measures to make sure that the government's need for revenue is balanced with the protection of the common Tao from undue tax burdens. He was the author of Republic Act No. 8424 also known as the Comprehensive Tax Reform Law, which exempted Overseas Contract Workers from paying income taxes in the Philippines on their income earned abroad. In the same law, his recommendation that homeowners be exempted from the payment of capital gains provided they invest the proceeds from the sale of their homes in buying or constructing other homes for themselves was also approved. He also sponsored the provision in the law exempting all Filipinos residing abroad from the payment of Philippine income tax on their income earned abroad. In the previous Tax Code, the same income was taxed in the Philippines even if it had already been subjected to tax in the foreign jurisdiction.
One of the Senator's advocacies involved a review of the performance of the power sector. Senator Enrile believed that there was a need to refine the process of computing electrical charges to make the industry more efficient and to help households from being charged with inordinately high electric bills. For this reason, the Senator was very vocal in his criticism of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. When the bill was submitted for voting, he cast the lone dissenting vote on the grounds, among others, that the EPIRA law, which institutionalized the imposition of the Purchase Power Adjustment (PPA), would subject the ordinary users to unnecessary increase in rates.
Cognizant of the Constitution's prohibition against the formation of monopolies, Senator Enrile initiated an Anti-Trust Bill as a means to discourage the formation of cartels and to curb the manipulation of the prices of basic commodities. Recognizing the need for security and the protection of civilians in the aftermath of the September 11-tragedy, the Senator filed the Anti-Terrorism Bill. His Senate term ended in 2001.
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. One of the first bills he introduced was the amendment of various provisions of the EPIRA Law to correct the undue increases on electric power rates, the confusion in the implementation and enforcement of the law which has caused erratic market behavior in the electric power industry.
Aware of the immense and urgent task before the Senate, that is, to look for suitable and effective solutions to the national problems, Senator Enrile, in the first privilege speech he delivered, exalted the Senate as an institution and enjoined his colleagues to "…restore the Senate to what it once was as the citadel and beacon light of our liberty. Let us again make it the repository of our hopes and aspirations. Let us bring it back to what it used to be - the stouthearted and courageous sentinel and protector of the commonweal. Let it become once more a true forum of the people - the authentic and concrete senatus populi of this nation."
As a public servant, Senator Enrile is committed to serving as a responsible and yet critical member of the legislature.
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