Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who once confessed to staging an attack on himself to justify the declaration of martial law 46 years ago, said Friday that an alliance between the Liberal Party and the communists drove then President Ferdinand Marcos to impose military rule over the entire nation.
In an interview with the late dictator’s son, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Enrile said he learned about the “coalition government” being planned by the two parties from then senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., a leading opposition figure at the time.
“One of the reasons why President Marcos declared martial law is there was a working coalition between the Liberal Party and the New Peoples Army-Communist Party of the Philippines led by [Jose Maria] Sison at this point,” Enrile said in a video entitled BBM x JPE, Witness to History Episode 1 of Martial Law, posted on Marcos’s Facebook page.
When questioned if it was a formal agreement, Enrile said, “Yes. I met with Ninoy Aquino in the house of Ramon Silay. Paul Aquino is still alive. He was the one who reported that to me.”
He also divulged that Paul Aquino ― Ninoy’s brother and father of incumbent Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, discussed the forming of a coalition government with CPP leaders during a meeting.
“He [Paul] was a member of the Liberal Party,” Enrile said.
Enrile, who was defense secretary at the time, said Marcos then realized that the country was too fragile and that it had very limited capability to contain the problem.
At the start of the interview, Marcos Jr. said he had chosen to talk to Enrile about martial law because he was the most authoritative person on the matter. He noted He noted that Enrile was not only a part of the action during the martial law regime but also part of the decision-making.
It was also Enrile who along with Fidel Ramos turned against President Marcos in 1986, sparking the People’s Power revolt that overthrew the dictator.
The young Marcos said he came out with the video after receiving e-mail questions and inquiries on social media from millennials who wanted to know the reasons behind his father’s declaration of martial law in 1972.
In his opening statement, the 95-year-old Enrile said history was totally distorted to favor one group.
But Enrile expressed hope that little by little, the truth will come out to correct the distortion in history. Enrile also said he is willing to challenge anyone to debate with him about the events surrounding martial law.
“I remember President [Emilio] Aguinaldo all the way to President [Rodrigo] Duterte. That’s my advantage over most of the people in this land now. I’ve seen history from the time of the Americans all the way now,” he said.
The Liberal Party denied such an agreement with the communist rebels took place, saying it was a lie that Marcos used to justify his desire to stay in power.
“That was the lie peddled by Marcos to justify his desire to perpetuate himself in power to include the staging of the fake ambush of Enrile, which he himself admitted to during the onset of the EDSA
People Power Revolution,” said LP president Senator Francis Pangilinan.
The party’s vice president, former Quezon Representative Erin Tañada, in an interview on News To Go, said it is unfair for Enrile to make such an allegation since most of the people supposedly involved in the negotiation are all dead.
“We can’t verify such statement. For us, it might be fake news. That’s when they need to come out with evidence,” he said.
The former Marcos defense chief also said before martial rule, there were only 50,000 men in the armed forces, including the Philippine Constabulary. He said the firearms in the hands of civilians were more than those of the armed forces.
Through martial law, he said the the government “harvested” some 600,000 guns from across the country.
He also debunked reports that they killed a lot of people during martial law, insisting that only the drug lord Lim Seng was executed. He also laughed off reports by historians that 70,000 others were arrested during the martial law years.
“Name me one that we executed other than [suspected drug lord] Lim Seng. There was none. Name me one person who was arrested because of political or religious belief. None. Name me one person who was arrested simply because they criticized President Marcos. None,” Enrile said.
Enrile said they could have this number if jaywalkers and violators of curfew were included.
He recalled that during the first two or three years of martial law, it was so peaceful one could open the window and leave the house and nobody would touch it.
Enrile, who also served as justice minister, said the millenials have been vocal against martial law because of the “inaccurate facts” they heard and read.
“What they know is what they’ve read or heard based on inaccurate facts,” he said.
Enrile said those who were arrested for their political stand were later on released and suffered only “inconvenience.”
“Jovy Salonga was a member of the Light a Fire Movement. Yes, they were arrested, but they were released. They were just inconvenienced for a while. But they were released later,” he said.
“Pepe Diokno, he did not want to be released. I told him, sign anything, just get out of here,” Enrile said.
Former President Benigno Aquino III hit Enrile, and questioned his credentials, saying he was “part of the misrule for such a long time.
“He is not the expert in terms of governance,” he said. “Pardon me if I don’t want to listen to him.”
Enrile angered Aquino by saying his mother, President Cory Aquino, knew nothing about governance.
The first of the two-part video interview was posted on Marcos’s Facebook page. The second part will be posted on Sept. 22.
During the interview, Enrile said Mrs. Aquino, widow of slain senator Benigno Aquino Jr., “did not know anything about governance.”
“When I joined the first Cabinet meeting with Cory, she did not make any decision. I realized that the President did not know anything about governance,” he said.
He also blamed Mrs. Aquino for the communist insurgency problem.
“We emasculated the communists when we declared martial law. But after the Edsa [People’s Power], she released all the leaders even Fr. [Conrado] Balweg,” Enrile said.