MANILA, Philippines – As the Philippines commemorates the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law on September 23, some personalities who have returned to public office are inevitably remembered for their contribution to the imposition of a regime that led to decades of brutal rule.
One of them is now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who, at that time, was the Defense Minister and a strong ally of then president Ferdinand Marcos.
In the Aquino government’s blow-by-blow account of the events leading to the signing of Martial Law started with the attempt to assasinate Enrile.
The incident was said to be staged by the administration just to have a reason to implement martial law in the country.
Based on the Official Gazette’s timeline of events then, this was what Marcos wrote in his diary at 9:55pm of September 22, 1972: “Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed near Wack-Wack at about 8:000 pm tonight. It was a good thing he was riding in his security car as a protective measure. This makes the martial law proclamation a necessity.”
Enrile was even part of the planning of martial law. Marcos wrote in his diary at 12:35 pm of September 9, 1972: “Sec. Ponce Enrile and I finished the material for any possible proclamation of martial law.”
Proclamation no. 1081 has given Enrile, and the armed forces which he managed, the authority to “prevent or supress…any act of insurrection or rebellion.” Among those orders given to him was to shut down privately-owned media facilities. Marcos ordered him and press secretary Francisco Tatad “to take over and control or cause the taking over and control of all such newspapers, magazines, radio and television facilities and all other media communications, wherever they are…”
The martial law, eventually, will come to an end in 1986 upon his withdrawal of support to Marcos.