Enrile claims opposition to ‘military junta’ drove him to leave Ferdinand Marcos

Aika Rey
Enrile claims opposition to ‘military junta’ drove him to leave Ferdinand Marcos
Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile also tells Bongbong Marcos that he didn't know the dictator was sick, even though he served the Marcos regime for 20 years

Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile said he contemplated leaving the Cabinet of Ferdinand Marcos as early as July 1985 – months ahead of the EDSA People Power Revolution – because he learned that a “military junta” planned to have him killed should anything happen to the dictator.

Enrile made this claim in the second episode of JPE: A Witness to History, where he was interviewed by the late strongman’s son, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, as part of what they called their joint effort to “correct the distortions of history.” It was aired a day after the 46th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, which Enrile had implemented as Marcos’ defense chief.

“Maybe this is the first this information has seen the light of day. The uprising of what became EDSA was not a break with my father, but it was an opposition to this junta?” Bongbong asked.

Enrile answered: “Correct. It just so happened that on the way to [Camp] Aguinaldo, we were going to be arrested by the presidential guards because of information that you got, that the Palace got [that we were plotting something]. Naturally we had no other way but to defend ourselves.”

Enrile’s decision to “withdraw support” from Marcos, along with top military officials at the time like then-Armed Forces of the Philippines vice chief of staff Fidel Ramos, was a pivotal event in the EDSA Revolution that led to the ouster of Marcos on February 25, 1986.

But 32 years ago, Enrile said he withdrew support from Marcos because Cory Aquino was the real winner of the February 7, 1986 presidential election. 

“I would rather die serving my people honestly with a clear conscience, instead of serving a regime I cannot accept as a legitimate one,” The Guardian quoted Enrile as saying on February 22, 1986, the first day of the 4-day bloodless revolution.

Military junta

In his téte-a-téte with Bongbong, Enrile said he feared for his life because he learned that he was on the kill list of the military junta – composed of then-military chief Fabian Ver, and the chiefs of main military services and the Coast Guard – since he was seen as a “hindrance to their political objectives.”

“They were saying that we were planning something, although to be truthful, we were organizing because we received information that there was a military junta. And I was supposed to be executed by that junta if something happens to the President,” he said.

Enrile claimed he “didn’t even know” that Marcos, whose government he served for 20 years in various senior Cabinet positions, was sick then. At the time, rumors were rife that Marcos suffered from lupus, which turned out to be true. (READ: Enrile’s tale: Hypocrisy and contradictions)

Enrile said he did the interview with Bongbong to correct the “distortions of history” due to “yellow propaganda,” a reference to the current political opposition represented by the Liberal Party.

The first part of the interview, aired on the eve of the commemoration of the Martial Law declaration, was focused on sanitizing the dark chapter of Philippine history, drawing criticism from Martial Law victims and their families, among others. 

“History was totally distorted to favor one group. Little by little, the truth will come out…. I do not manufacture facts. I do not lie to the people. I have not manipulated the events. I dealt with them as I face them,” Enrile said. (LIST: False claims of Juan Ponce Enrile on Martial Law– Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.