The conspirators of the many assassination attempts on President Marcos

Wednesday December 28, 2016 ()

President Marcos and Pope John Paul II

In his 1981 book Progress and Martial Law, President Ferdinand Marcos enumerated eight assassination attempts against him in 1972 alone, the first seven of them being from February 13 to August, the eighth undated.

He named the conspirators as Sergio Osmeña Jr. (whom he thrashed in the 1969 elections), Sergio Osmeña III, Larry Tractman, explosives expert Sam Cummins, arms dealer Brian Borthwick, gunmen August McCormick Lehman and Robert Pincus, Manila politician Eduardo Figueras, Jesus Cabarrus Jr., Manuel Crisologo and Antonio Arevalo. Their trail led to Geny Lopez and Steve Psinakis.

The conspirators of the many assassination attempts on President Marcos

As usual, as in the cases of the Plaza Miranda bombing of August 21, 1971, and the MV Karagatan arms-landing by the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army in July 1972, the revelations made by Marcos regarding those assassination attempts were greeted with disbelief.

Years of tussling with a hostile press had eroded his credibility and the damage has persisted to this day.

But these assassination attempts, in fact, did happen, although probably the bungling was not all that comical as Marcos described them. One of those who gave independent confirmation of the conspiracy was the writer James Hamilton-Paterson.

In his award-winning 1998 book America's Boy: The Marcoses and the Philippines, Hamilton-Paterson had gotten in touch with a property agent from whom Eduardo Figueras had rented a flat, which he never got to occupy, but to which he hauled boxes night after night, with the instruction that the air conditioner must never be turned off.

When the janitor, using a duplicate key, opened the flat to clean it, he saw explosive caps. When the lessor was summoned and opened some boxes, they found electronic detonators, aluminum tubes and other paraphernalia for making bombs.

The property agent's uncle happened to be a pal of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. The flat was placed under military surveillance. Lawmen pounced on Manuel Crisologo when he showed up at the flat one night with a lady in tow. He fingered Figueras, who disclosed the plot, and who, in turn, implicated Lopez, Psinakis and future Sen. Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III.

Osmeña III admits role in assassination plot

Osmeña III himself admitted his role to assassinate President Marcos.

In his four-page letter to the President on July 24, 1973, Osmeña III said:

"I come to you now, Mr. President, in all humility and with much trepidation, to beg your forgiveness for my past wrongdoings and for your amnesty. I have erred grievously, Sir, and I am truly sorry. I have no excuses.

"May I also beseech you, Mr. President, to grant mercy and compassion to my dear father and to find it in your heart to forgive the injustices he may have done to you."

In his letter, Osmeña said he was asked by his father, Sergio Osmeña Jr., to accompany Figueras to the place of Herman Lacson in Bayawan, Negros Oriental, where they tested the explosives to be used in the assassination plot.

Osmeña said Borthwick, who was detained for sometime in Singapore under the latter's internal security law, tested in their presence some of the explosives on a live cow, whose head was totally severed as a result.

Osmeña's letter was presented to the joint Defense-Justice Panel investigating the assassination attempts against Marcos.

Some of the explosives were kept in a flat near the junction of the Manila International Airport road that Marcos mentioned in his book Progress and Martial Law. It was rented in preparation for the first assassination attempt: the planting of pipe bombs along the route of the presidential motorcade from the airport to Malacañang, where Marcos and President Suharto of Indonesia were to pass in a state visit on February 13, 1972.


  1. The question of heroism by Cecilio T. Arillo, December 21, 2016 (Business Mirror)

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