Straight from the horse’s mouth
I got an autographed copy of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s memoir launched only three days ago. I immediately skimmed over it, wanting to get to the portions about important events in the Philippines that involved him. They were the declaration of martial law, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, and the People Power revolt. The public had only a cursory knowledge of these events. For years, there were only speculative and sometimes inaccurate versions of these events. Now, finally, here are the words of a key player in all these events. These are now words straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Whether or not you would believe his narration, the book provides interesting reading and satisfies curiosity regarding some aspects of these events.
• The declaration of martial law. It was generally believed that the ambush of Enrile’s car in Wack-Wack subdivision was faked to provide an excuse for the declaration of martial law. Not true, wrote Enrile in his memoir.
“What would I have faked my ambush for?” he asked. “When it happened, the military operation to impose martial law was already going on. I had already delivered Proclamation 1081 and all the General Orders and Letters of Instruction to the military leaders. I had already ordered them to proceed with the military operation that carried out the orders of President Marcos to place the country under martial law.” (It was Enrile himself who drafted the proclamation, general orders and letters of instruction and delivered them to Malacañang. President Marcos later sent them back to him for implementation.)
“In fact, when the ambush happened, I was already on my way home. Whether I was ambushed or not, martial law in the country was already an irreversible fact. So what was the need for me to fake my own ambush?….
“I honestly did not know why Marcos suddenly decided to cite my ambush in justifying the declaration of martial law when he made his public statement on Sept. 23. There was absolutely no need for it.”
Who ambushed him? Who ordered it?
My enemies, Enrile wrote, and he had many, according to him.
But who among them?
Up to this day, he does not know.
• The assassination of Ninoy Aquino. When Ninoy was assassinated at the Manila International Airport tarmac, Enrile said he was preparing to take a nap. It was Gen. Fabian Ver who first reported the assassination to him by telephone. “Incoherently,” according to Enrile. Here is a reproduction of their phone conversation:
JPE: “What happened?”
Ver: “Ninoy was shot, Sir.”
Ver: “Ninoy was shot, Sir!”
JPE: “Where was Ninoy shot?”
Ver: “He was shot at the airport tarmac, Sir!”
JPE: “Why was Ninoy at the airport tarmac?”
Ver: “He was being taken to Fort Bonifacio, and he was brought down through the airport tarmac for security reasons, Sir.”
JPE: “Who took Ninoy down to the airport tarmac?”
Ver: “The soldiers, Sir, who met him and acted as his security escort.”
JPE: “Who shot him?”
Ver: “A man disguised as an airport personnel, Sir.”
JPE: “What do you mean by ‘disguised as airport personnel?’”
Ver: “The man who shot Ninoy was wearing the uniform of airport personnel, Sir.”
JPE: “Was the gunman arrested?”
Ver: “He was killed by the soldiers, Sir.”
JPE: “Where is Ninoy?”
Ver: “Ninoy was taken to the General Hospital, Sir.”
JPE: “How is he?”
Ver: “He is dead, Sir.”
• Who ordered Ninoy killed? President Marcos formed the Agrava Commission to investigate the assassination. The Fact-Finding Board was headed by Justice Corazon Agrava; its members were Ernesto Herrera from labor, Dante Santos from business, Amado Dizon from the academe, and Luciano Salazar from the legal associations.
It was generally reported that the Agrava Commission found that the assassination was a communist-inspired plot. False, wrote Enrile.
That was the minority report written by Agrava. The majority report of the four other members of the board “concluded that the killing of Ninoy was the result of a deliberate government-military conspiracy,” Enrile wrote. “It pinned the blame directly on Gen. Fabian Ver and several others. It recommended the indictment of General Ver and a number of high-ranking military officers and enlisted men.”
• The People Power revolt. Enrile wrote that it was the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), led by Col. Gringo Honasan of the Army, Col. Red Kapunan of the Air Force, and Maj. Noe Wong of the Philippine Constabulary, that was at the forefront of the move to “withdraw their support from Marcos.” Others saw it as an attempted coup. Four RAM members had already been arrested. The coup plot was revealed by Maj. Edgardo Doromal, a recruit of Gringo, to Col. Irwin Ver who told his father, General Ver, who told Marcos. Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, vice chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, chief of the Constabulary, and director general of the Integrated National Police, was not yet a member of the plot.
Enrile and his men decided to make their stand against the Marcos forces at Camp Aguinaldo. It was at that point that Enrile called General Ramos at Camp Crame. “I called you to ask if you care to join us,” Enrile said.
“Eddie was quiet for a while,” Enrile added. When he was about to put the phone down, Ramos said: “Sir, I will join you. Let me just finish with my visitors.”
He did and the rest is history.
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