MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 February) — So what really happened, Mr. Senate President, Sir?
Was then defense secretary and now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ambushed shortly before would-be dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on 22 September 1972? (The official date of the declaration is 21 September 1972, but it was read on radio by Marcos’ propagandist Francisco Tatad at around midnight on the 22nd. It’s been said that Marcos dated it 21 September owing to his belief that numbers that are divisible by seven would bring him luck.)
Marcos used the supposed ambush that riddled Enrile’s car with bullets but left him and the other passengers unscathed as an excuse to impose martial rule, in addition to the Moro rebellion in the South and the communist insurgency run by a ragtag group of guerrillas confined to a few villages in Central Luzon.
Even a first grader would find it incredible that none of the car occupants sustained wounds. But except for the activists, who would dare question the myth — or deception — at that time when the Filipinos were either mesmerized by the promises of the “New Society” or held back in fear by the prospect of landing in the stockades or in unmarked graves if they defied Apo Ferdie?
The truth behind the “ambush” lay buried for a long time. Until Enrile revealed the real story on the second day of the Edsa Revolt that toppled Marcos and ushered in the government of Corazon “Cory” Aquino, widow of martyred Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Enrile, who holed himself up in Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo along with then colonel Gregorio Honasan and other members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement after Marcos discovered their coup plot, revealed in a press conference that the ambush was faked to justify the Martial Law declaration.
He also admitted that in his home province Cagayan Valley, they cheated presidential candidate Aquino of at least 200,000 votes.
Fast forward twenty-six years after Edsa. Enrile published [his] autobiography “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir”. In it he reverted to the Martial Law-era version of the “ambush” on him as true, a claim that can only be interpreted as yet another endorsement of the dictatorial rule after having divulged the deception that occurred on the night before Tatad announced the edict that brought the country to its darkest years after World War II. Or perhaps this part of the book simply highlights his bitterness towards the civilian-backed military mutiny that saved his skin but frustrated his ambition to seize Malacanang.
Enrile has immortalized what is apparently his final version of that “ambush.” But the debate should not end there. Maybe the archives of the newspapers and TV stations in the Philippines and abroad that covered the Edsa Revolt can help put a closure to the issue. Time to apply forensics to those who wish to revise history for selfish ends.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)