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Enrile's 'ambush': Real or not?

FACT OR FICTION? Juan Ponce Enrile talks to Ferdinand Marcos Jr in a two-part video titled JPE: A Witness to History.


The second episode of "JPE: A Witness to History" – supposedly intended to "correct" what had been written about Martial Law and the 1986 People Power Revolution – was released on Saturday, September 22.

It featured ex-Senate president and former Martial Law administrator Juan Ponce Enrile talking to former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, the son of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

At the end of this episode, Enrile said: "I do not manufacture facts. I have not lied to the people. I have not manipulated events."

Yet in past years, he has offered different versions of the same event, the one that justified the declaration of Martial Law in September 1972.

He was supposedly "ambushed" in Wack-Wack subdivision on the night of September 22, 1972. This became one of the reasons for then-president Ferdinand Marcos to announce the declaration of Martial Law the following day. Marcos had supposedly already signed Proclamation No. 1081 declaring Martial Law on September 21. (READ: Remembering Enrile and the imposition of Martial Law)

Marcos even wrote about the ambush in his own diary after it happened. He said, "This makes the martial law proclamation a necessity."

However, on February 22, 1986, when Enrile and then-Armed Forces vice chief of staff Fidel Ramos turned against Marcos and joined the crowds massing on EDSA, the former Marcos defense minister admitted in a news conference that the 1972 ambush was fake.

His claim was chronicled in newspapers such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer on February 23 and Australia's The Age on February 24 of the same year.

INQUIRER. Published on the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on February 23, 1986.

"Mr Enrile told a media conference at Camp Crame that an alleged attempted assassination of himself 14 years ago – one of the factors which led to the imposition of martial law – was staged," said The Age in its report.

THE AGE. Published in Australia on February 24, 1986.

Oscar Lopez, a Wack-Wack subdivision resident and a member of the prominent Lopez family, also attested to the "fake ambush." The Lopezes were known oppositors of Marcos.

"That night, I was with my children in the family hall of our house. Then all of a sudden, we could hear a lot of shooting outside. We didn’t know what was happening. After the shooting died down, I went out. I took a peek at what was happening outside my fence and I saw this car riddled with bullets. Nobody was hurt; there was no blood. The car was empty," recounted Lopez in the book, Phoenix: The Saga of the Lopez Family. (READ: Enrile's tale: Hypocrisy and contradictions)

Yet Enrile later retracted his own claim about the "fake ambush." In his 2012 book, Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir, and in a documentary that aired on ABS-CBN the same year, Enrile said he was indeed "ambushed."

He said it was his political enemies who claimed he faked his own ambush – contrary to what he said in his own press conference in February 1986.

"This accusation is ridiculous and preposterous. What would I have faked my ambush for?" he wrote in his memoir. He also argued that the Martial Law documents had already been signed anyway prior to his ambush.

Then in a separate interview with GMA News in October 2012, Enrile explained the "ambush" in yet another way. Recalling the time he was talking to author Raymond Bonner for a book, Enrile said: "I said the ambush was staged, but I did not say who staged it. I did not say that I staged my own ambush."

Was the ambush real? Did he lie about the ambush itself? Did he lie about faking the ambush? Will we ever know for sure? What do you think? – Michael Bueza/