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WikiLeaks: Ex-US envoy doubted probe clearing Jack Enrile from murder of Navy officer's son

(Updated 12:10 p.m., April 11) A former US Ambassador to the Philippines had doubted the government investigation that cleared current Cagayan lawmaker and senatorial aspirant Jack Enrile in the 1975 murder of a Navy officer's son, but hinted of a possible conspiracy to sow intrigue between Enrile's father, then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, and then-President Ferdinand Marcos during the height of Martial Law. In one of the cables declassified and published by WikiLeaks, William Sullivan said despite the sudden leave of absence that the elder Enrile took at the height of the issue, and despite his pronouncement that he would not try to influence the investigation on his son, his “prestige” as a member of the Marcos Cabinet “was diminished.” "Senior Enrile's prestige was diminished and doubt was cast on his standing with Marcos when his son was charged and he went abroad. Enrile's stock now seems to be on rebound as adverse reaction to Melchor-managed purge sets in and suspicion of Melchor power grabbing permeates bureaucracy," he said. In a cable dated October 1, 1975, Sullivan said sources from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) indicated to them that "both the Enrile boy and his bodyguard are liable to prosecution" for the death of Ernest Lucas Jr. "We are not informed as to [the] specific charges [the] NBI would prefer although some NBI sources have told us unequivocally, and contrary to Sec. Enrile's assurances to Ambassador (Reftel), that Enrile's son did the shooting," he said.
Contradicting sides
In an interview with GMA News, Fr. Robert Reyes, an uncle of the victim, claimed that his sources during the time of the incident told him that it was Jack who shot Lucas Jr.
Reyes said that it was over a heated argument in an exclusive party for Ateneans.
He said that Jack found out that Lucas Jr. was not an Atenean and asked him what he was doing in the party.
According to Reyes, Lucas Jr. explained that he was just checking up on his sister who was attending the party.
They then had a heated argument and “afterwards, Jackie goes back to the house and gets the gun from his aide and pumps a bullet into the forehead of my nephew.”
But in a previous interview on dzBB in February, Jack denied shooting Lucas Jr., recalling that at the time, he tried to calm down the victim, who he claimed was drunk at the time.
“Sabi ko Ernest, konting lamig lang,” Jack recalled as saying, adding “Nung medyo umasta na si Lucas, he was going to lunge [at] me, pumagitna na si Danny [his aide].”
“All of a sudden, andoon na lang sa harap... Bigla na lang meron akong narinig na baril na pumutok,” he continued.
Jack also mentioned that he thought it was him who sustained the gunshot wound since there was blood all over his body. “Sumirit yung dugo sa akin. Yun pala may tama na si Ernest,” he said.
Questionable timing?
In a text message to reporters, the younger Enrile labeled Sullivan's information as “rumors and hearsay” and questioned the timing of its release. "Please note that Sullivan states that the basis of his report were rumors and hearsay.  I believe I have answered this before thoroughly in print, TV, radio and the internet and would like to move forward talking about my advocacies and what we together can and should do for our country and our people," he said. Jack was suspected to have killed Lucas, who was shot in the head on September 20, 1975 during a party in Makati. However, it was his bodyguard, Sgt. Danilo Cruz, who confessed to the crime, saying he was just defending Jack. In a separate cable dated October 7, 1975, Sullivan relayed the announcement of Chief State Prosecutor Rodolfo Nocon a day before that homicide charges would not be filed against Jack.   He quoted Nocon as saying that Jack neither executed "any direct overt act" which contributed to the death of Lucas nor conspired with or ordered Cruz to kill Lucas. At this point, Sullivan expressed doubt on the credibility of the investigation. "Jackie did not even appear in person at hearings since he was attending classes,” he pointed out. “In cases of this importance, material witnesses are normally interrogated in person by [the] investigating fiscal." He added, "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." JPE's account In his memoir "Juan Ponce Enrile" published September last year, Enrile, now Senate President, called the incident "one of the most painful and jolting experiences" of his life. He said he was in Cebu to speak during a joint meeting of four Rotary Clubs when Lucas' father, Commander Ernesto Lucas of the Philippine Navy, told him that Jack had shot his son. "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, and I had to contrary fact to doubt the story of Commander Lucas," he said. He said he told Lucas that "if my son is responsible for your son's death, he must answer for it.   “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. But upon inquiring, Enrile said he found that it was Cruz who shot Lucas after the victim reportedly got into a heated argument with Jack.    Leave of absence He said he wanted to resign from his position to personally defend his son, but that Marcos declined his resignation. He said Marcos just advised him to take a leave of absence and allow the NBI to investigate the case. He then stayed in Japan for two weeks. "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 defense lawyers at the time and to let the law take its course," the elder Enrile said. Because of his sudden leave of absence, Sullivan said news of Enrile's future in the government began to float. "When Enrile left, President Marcos took over as acting secretary of defense. Press pointed out that President had done this on several occasions before and suggested temporary of such action. There have been a number of rumors suggesting that Enrile's career as a defense secretary may be over," he said. He said Enrile's "long run prospects [are] probably intimately tied to how and if Marcos proceeds with military purge and to steps he must take thereafter to restore loyal and moving government." Travesty of justice Even though the government's decision not to press charges against Jack paved the way for Enrile's return to the country, Sullivan said Jack's case still had an adverse effect on his father's political career. "Despite immediately favorable disposition of Enrile Jr.'s case, Enrile's name has been tarnished somewhat and incident does provide residual weapon that could be used against him in the future," he said. Reyes concurred with what Sullivan said in the leaked cable, noting that there has been a cover-up during the investigaton. “There was a travesty of justice, may whitewash, may pananakot, at wala talagang matinong probe o imbestigasyon na naganap,” lamented Reyes, who is popularly known as the running priest, in a report on GMA News’ “24 Oras” Wednesday. “Hindi ako naniniwala [na ang aide ang bumaril] kasi ang unang mga testimonya ng mga kaibigan niya si Jackie Enrile [ang bumaril kay Lucas],” he added. — with Rouchelle Dinglasan and Andrei Medina/KBK/RSJ, GMA News