Senatorial hopeful Juan Ponce Enrile’s recent statement saying that political dissidents during the Marcos era were the ones who “started” the chaos prompted a number of critics to remind him of what led to the late Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law declaration.
Enrile, who served as Marco’s Defense Minister during Martial Law, apologized to victims of human rights violations in an interview with CNN Philippines on Monday but placed the blame on critics of the late strongman.
“I’m sorry that some of them got hurt but they started it. They wanted to topple the government of the people, elected by the people or installed by the people,” Enrile said.
Enrile played a pivotal role in the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution by withdrawing support from Marcos with then Lt. Gen Fidel Ramos and eventually toppling the Marcos government.
In a conversation with Bongbong Marcos broadcast in September 2018 previously claimed that there were no political arrests or assassinations during Martial Law.
He had been criticized by some of his colleagues during his previous Senate stint including former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who was detained four times over the course of Marcos’ two-decades long administration.
“I’m sorry if I hurt people. I never intended to hurt people but that is what I know. I’m stating facts, if they can provide me with a contradictory proof that I was wrong, I will accept,” Enrile said to those who slammed his interview with the younger Marcos.
He has since been accused by his critics of flip-flopping on his statements, reminding him of his own role in the declaration of Martial Law.
Enrile last Sept: Name me 1 person that was arrested because of political or religious belief during ML. NONE. Name me 1 person that was arrested simply because he criticized Marcos. NONE.
Now: THERE WERE ARRESTS. THERE WERE ABUSES, I WAS THE ONE WHO SIGNED THE ARREST WARRANTS.
— Ryan (@rryyyaaaannnn) October 22, 2018
some of us remember how terrified Enrile was in Feb 1986, when he was huddling in fear inside the camp when his plot vs Marcos was unearthed. Alas, the people saved him. https://t.co/QNQ2iNqMgD
— alan c. robles (@hotmanila) October 22, 2018
You're the one who started it. From you're fake ambushed until the last interview you had with the son of the purveyor.
— Acid Red, MD 赤酸 (@AcidRed28) October 22, 2018
The ambush story
An ambush on Enrile’s convoy during his time as defense minister was cited as the pretext for Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law in September 1972.
He admitted to faking the ambush on the eve of the 1986 People Power revolution, when he and fellow Marcos official Fidel Ramos defected from the administration.
Enrile however in his autobiography published in 2012 reversed his statements and said that he had in fact been ambushed prior to Marcos’ declaration.
According to the account, Enrile’s vehicle while traversing a subdivision along EDSA was fired upon by assailants riding another car.
His security detail however was unable to retaliate and chase the assailants, who immediately sped away.
“Whether I was ambushed or not, martial law in the country was already an irreversible fact. So what was the need to fake my own ambush?,” he wrote in the autobiography.
Businessman Oscar Lopez, a resident of Wack Wack Subdivision where the ambush allegedly took place in his book published in 2000 claims witnessing the scene of the ambush but believed that it was staged, since it appeared that the attack had no intended victim.