Juan Ponce Enrile: The Marcos protégé turned EDSA hero turned Marcos apologist

September 21, 2018 - 6:30 PM
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Juan Ponce Enrile (center) was among the key figures during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Philstar.com/File Photo

Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile told his own narrative on events that transpired during the Martial Law years in a têtê-a-têtê with the late dictator’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Enrile at 94 years old may appear to have a stellar career. He was once lauded as one of the heroes of the EDSA Revolution.

But why is he supporting the Marcoses now? Who was he during the Marcos era?

Enrile was the defense minister of the Marcos administration and was known as a strong ally of the first family.

A notable incident during this time was the deadly Plaza Miranda bombing of the miting de avance of the Liberal Party on August 21, 1971.

Marcos and his supporters, including Enrile, alleged it was the work of the communists.

However, in the video, Enrile revealed that Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., Marcos’ critic and a Liberal Party member, told him that the communists and the LP were forming a coalition for the president’s ouster when the tragedy happened.

But why would the communists then attack its own allies?

On Sept. 22, 1972, Enrile was supposedly ambushed by communist rebels, but had gotten out of it safe because he was in a car.

It was the day before Marcos announced Proclamation No. 1081 to the nation. Marcos signed the order on September 23 and post-dated it on September 21, which was the date being recognized today.

Enrile seemed to switch sides in February 1986, amid the historic People Power Revolution in EDSA, wherein he admitted to the public that the ambush incident was just staged to justify the implementation of Martial Law.

When the late strongman was ousted and the rest of the Marcoses went into exile, Enrile emerged as a hero, along with Cory Aquino, Cardinal Sin and Fidel Ramos.

The Bongbong Marcos-Juan Ponce Enrile tête-à-tête

The video, was part of a web series called “Witness to History” created by the younger Marcos for his YouTube channel in an apparent attempt to dissuade millennials from believing history books.

The first episode was uploaded and shared the day before the 46th anniversary of the Martial Law proclamation.

Former social welfare department secretary Judy Taguiwalo and former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales, who were both detainees during Martial Law, countered Enrile’s claims in the video, saying that he’s distorting the facts during the darkest regime in Philippine history.

“How can you believe him now when he talks about history, when he himself was part of making the lies, the scenario that helped create the justification for Martial Law?” Taguiwalo said in an interview on an ANC s show.

Former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales also recalled that Enrile once described her as being too talkative as the reason for her getting arrested back then.

The family of late Senator Jose Diokno, another Martial Law detainee and former senator, also disproved Enrile’s statements that claim arrests were only for those doing criminal acts, but the suspects were eventually released.

“Are we now to take torture, forced disappearance, and loss of life as forms of ‘inconvenience? The denial of freedom ‘for a while’, whether for a day or for decades, is simply not acceptable, and stating it as a fact—’They were inconvenienced for a while’—distorts the truth,” their statement read.

Others also aired on Twitter their frustrations with Enrile’s continuous support to the Marcoses.

Amnesty International recorded an approximate 70,000 people imprisoned, 34,000 tortured and 3,240 killed.

The era of tyranny saw the suspension of writ of habeas corpus, the legal remedy which protects citizens from illegal detentions, the closure of media organizations and silencing dissent.