HomeGovernmentThe Chief ExecutiveFormer MayorsHon. Joaquin F. Enriquez Jr.

Hon. Joaquin F. Enriquez Jr. (1967-1971; 1971-1975; 1975-1978)

Among the mayors, the one who governed Zamboanga City for the longest uninterrupted term was Joaquin F. Enriquez, Jr., “El Hacha”, as people called him.

Jun, as he was known to his friends, would serve the city for eleven years, counting the term extension granted to him by President Marcos during Martial Law.

Enriquez was born on February 23, 1926, the son of Joaquin Enriquez and Milagros Jaldon. He was the eldest of four children.

He had his elementary education at the Burleigh Elementary School and transferred to the Ateneo de Zamboanga for his secondary education. He finished college at the Far Eastern University. In 1953, Jun took the bar examination and passed it.

He was still a student at the Far Eastern University when he met Carmen Joaquin, the sister of the famous writer, Nick Joaquin. Right after he passed the bar examination, he proposed marriage to her. The couple would have six children, four boys and two girls. They are Roberto, Ricardo, Maria Lourdes, Renato, Maria Cristina, and Rolando.

Jun worked for a while in Manila, but later decided that life would be easier in his hometown. He began his political life in 1955 when he was invited to run for councilor under the banner of the Liberal Party. The handsome young lawyer was easily elected, landing among the top ten. In 1959 Jun ran for re-election and was victorious. This time he was number one.

His charisma and performance as councilor gained for the young politician more popularity among the voters of Zamboanga. In 1963, he was nominated to run for the position of Vice-Mayor under the ticket of Dr. Tomas Ferrer, who had assumed the position as mayor when Cesar Climaco ran for Congress. At that time, Enriquez had already assumed the position as vice mayor by succession. Tomas Ferrer lost in the 1963 election, but Jun won overwhelmingly and was retained as the vice mayor, a position he held until 1967.

In 1967, Jun decided to challenge the Nacionalista Mayor Hector Suarez for the chief executive’s job. He became the fifth elected mayor of Zamboanga, serving his term from 1967 to 1971. Because of political differences, Enriquez resigned from the Liberal Party. When he ran for re-election, in 1971, he was an independent candidate. He astounded many observers who thought he could not win without party support. When Martial Law was decreed in 1972, Jun was retained as mayor. In 1976, his term was extended because all elections in the country were cancelled.

The initial years of Martial Law in the Philippines would probably be the most difficult in the country’s political history, yet Mayor Jun Enriquez’s resiliency in adapting to this most difficult situation would turn out to be a boom for the Zamboangueños. His priority was to make sure that Zamboanga would not be left out in terms of development. Mayor Jun Enriquez managed to gain favor from the Marcos administration. He initiated a number of infrastructure projects for Zamboanga like the construction of farm to market roads, the building of emergency hospitals in Quiniput and Labuan, and the initial phase of the rural electrification project of the city. It was during his term that the Sta. Cruz Public Market was constructed.

When the Batasang Pambansa was created in 1977, Enriquez decided to run for assemblyman, a position which he felt would give Zamboanga and Western Mindanao the proper voice in a changing government system. He won resoundingly. In parliament, he fought for the creation of a separate and autonomous district for Zamboanga.

In 1981, when elections were held again for the Batasang Pambansa, Jun went for re-election. Unfortunately, this time it was going to be three-cornered fight for Jun. On one hand, he had to contend with his former party mate turned political nemesis, Cesar C. Climaco. On the other hand, there was the rising political star by the name of Maria Clara L. Lobregat.

The divided loyalty of the Zamboangueños took its toll on Enriquez’s candidacy. The oppositionist Climaco only had to play on the growing hatred for the Marcos administration to defeat his opponents. It was Enriquez’s first experience of defeat, which signaled Jun’s retirement from public life.
Carmen said Jun spent most of his retirement years reading, writing and hunting. His blissful life as a private citizen was cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer of the throat. He died on June 25, 1986. The man with a ready smile and a ready helping hand had passed away.