Enrile's account on why Martial Law was declared by President Marcos in 1972

Monday July 17, 2017 ()

Marcos, Ramos, Enrile

For the past 45 years now, the lingering question in the hearts and minds of our people, especially the young generation, has remained an enigma as to why former President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law in 1972.

Only former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, now 93 and already retired from politics, has the credible answer to that question, as the one tasked by the President to plan and administer it himself to save the country from further ruin.

Early in December, after the presidential election in 1969, Marcos asked Enrile to see him in Malacañang. Enrile recalled:


"He asked me to study the limits of his power under the commander in chief provision of the 1935 Constitution. According to him, he foresaw the escalation of violence and disorder in the country, and he wanted to know the extent of his power as commander in chief of the Armed Forces."

The study must be done discreetly and confidentially," Marcos told Enrile, telling him at the same time "to enlist whoever I needed to help me, but he made it clear that anyone who would participate in the study must be told not to talk about it with others".

"The next day, I asked Efren Plana to help me. He was my brilliant, discreet and unobtrusive assistant in the Department of Justice. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines [UP] College of Law. I briefed him on the desire and instruction of President Marcos. I asked him to look for another that could be trusted to work with us on the project. He suggested Minerva Gonzaga Reyes, also a magna cum laude graduate from the UP College of Law and a lawyer in the Department of Justice. I eagerly agreed, and the two of them formed my team that did the research for President Marcos."

After more than two years, Enrile presented to President Marcos a thick volume on the extent and limit of his power as the commander in chief of all the armed forces of the country. Enrile said:

"Only one copy of the research was prepared. I never saw or heard of that copy again thereafter."

"I knew President Marcos to be a fast reader. Apart from his natural talent, he was also familiar with the technique of fast reading. However, I could not vouch that he read the voluminous written material I submitted to him."

Not long after Enrile submitted his work, Marcos called him again to Malacañang. This time, he asked Enrile to draft the necessary implementing documents to install martial law in the country.

"My immediate problem was how to begin. There was neither precedent nor model to guide me. I plainly had to start from scratch. Daunting as the task was, it had to be done and it was I that had to do it and no one else."

Visualizing the process in his mind, Enrile added:

"My initial step was to carefully describe in a document the status of the national security situation in the country, which became the basis to proclaim martial law. Then, the next step was to identify the primary problems to be addressed and the government agencies to address them. This was how the proclamation, the general orders and the letters of instructions that were issued later on by President Marcos, evolved".

Recalling that event, Enrile said:

"I had to work alone, mostly at night, and at home after office hours. The only one who joined me in my drafting work, with the knowledge and consent of President Marcos, was Simplicio Taguiam, who was his private and confidential secretary. Taguiam was a very good stenographer and a skillful typist. I dictated to him the documents that were used to install martial law in the land.

"The condition of law and order in the country deteriorated immensely after the presidential election of 1969. Social and political tension intensified critically. Violence was widespread and uncontrollable. Local police forces were overstretched and no match for the guns of private armies. The infiltration of high-powered guns could not be abated despite the dedicated efforts of the government to stop it.

"The combined armed capability of the government at that time was less than 60,000. Most of it was deployed in Central Luzon against the communist insurgents, while the rest was scattered in the other parts of the country.

"A vivid example of the national security situation of the country then was what happened in Congress in the evening of January 26, 1970. President Marcos was in Congress that evening to deliver his State of the Nation Address before a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate. He went there to fulfill his constitutional duty under the 1935 Constitution. The Congress, at that time, was on Padre Burgos Avenue (now Katigbak Street) in Manila.

"As a consequence, the members of Congress, the President and his First Lady Imelda R. Marcos, the Chief Justice and members of the Supreme Court, the Cabinet officials who attended the affair and foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries and visitors, who were invited to the occasion, were all trapped inside the Congress building. The Manila police and the armed forces were summoned and ordered to restore order and rescue the trapped public officials and guests.

"President Marcos and the First Lady waded their way out to the front door of the building with the help of the soldiers and policemen who surrounded them. When the president and the first lady were outside the building, the irate and disorderly demonstrators there threw stones and exploded Molotov bombs at them. A cardboard coffin was hurled at President Marcos, which struck his back as he was boarding the presidential car."

As Enrile watched on television what was going on, he fully grasped the essence of what President Marcos said to him when he saw him in Malacañang in December 1969: that violence and disorder would escalate and threaten the country.

In the evening of January 30, 1970, a much bigger student rally was mounted again in front of Congress. From there the students marched to Malacañang. On their way, they caused traffic jams, burned traffic police outposts, threw Molotov bombs, and boisterously shouted invectives against imperialism, feudalism and fascism.

When they reached Mendiola Street in front of the Palace, the marchers merged with a bigger crowd already there and stormed Malacañang. They rammed Gate 4. Many spilled into the Palace ground. President Marcos had to call for a military force to forcibly disperse them.

"I was in Malacañang that evening, and I could still remember the scene vividly. The place was enveloped with thick smoke from teargas containers thrown at the aggressive demonstrators by the law enforcers who dispersed and drove them away from the place."

President Marcos unexpectedly reorganized his Cabinet: Alejandro Melchor was appointed Executive Secretary; Cesar Virata became secretary of finance; Placido Mapa was made chairman of the National Economic Council; Felix Makasiar succeeded me in the Department of Justice; and I was transferred to the Department of National Defense, Enrile said, adding:

"The sudden changes in the Cabinet were, to me, a clear sign that President Marcos was getting terribly annoyed by the growing turmoil in the country."

During that period, a cold war between the two superpowers - the United States and the Soviet Union - intensified. The US stood for democracy of Thomas Jefferson, while the Soviet Union stood for the communism of Karl Marx. The competition between these two ideologies was bloody and deadly.

Enrile said Marxism had penetrated almost every human society on the planet. Its Utopian ideal attracted millions of adherents. Its core principle was "from each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs." It fed on the poverty, misery, frustration and hatred of humanity.

Apart from the countries that constituted the former Soviet Union, its social, political, economic and military pillars were China, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and the now rogue state of North Korea. It just lost in Indonesia and was busy trying to capture the Philippines. Its anointed saints, aside from Karl Marx, were Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Jose Daniel Ortega, Pol Pot and Kim Jung Un.

In the Philippines communism under the banner of a newly organized communist party of Jose Ma. Sison spread rapidly with the assistance and support of its New People's Army. From Central Luzon where it started, it crept northward to Cagayan Valley, and then southward to the Tagalog and Visayan regions.

Using the Leninist strategy of united front, it penetrated almost every sector of our society through its National Democratic Front: the media; the religious sector; the government bureaucracy; the schools, colleges and universities; labor, farmer and fishermen organizations; social, economic, political, civic, professional, youth, women and student associations, and others. Enrile recalled:

"As time went by with their growing united front organizations behind them, the CPP-NPA became bolder and more aggressive. Apart from their armed operations in the field against government forces, they exploited every opportunity to probe government weaknesses."

"In the transport sector, for instance, they launched lightning strikes. Drivers of cargo trucks, buses, taxis, and jeepneys left their vehicles in the middle of roads and highways and paralyzed the flow of goods and individuals in heavily populated areas. Drivers who did not join the strikers were beaten up and their vehicles were burned."

In Los Baños, radical students from the Kabataang Makabayan left their classes and joined the transport strike. They took control of the strike and caused anarchy. They set up human barricades across the national highway and prevented vehicles from passing northward and southward. They conducted teach-ins in the middle of the roadway. They abusively ripped wooden poles and planks from nearby houses and made bonfires out of them. They blocked the transport artery and traffic flow stood still for several days.

Enrile instructed the PC and the police to plead with the strikers to lift their human barricades voluntarily. But the radical students refused arrogantly. Instead, they poured gasoline on the highway, lobbed Molotov bombs and blocked other roads.

He ordered the constabulary and the police to remove the human barricades and restore the flow of vehicular traffic. Enrile also ordered the arrest of the troublemakers and charged them in court. The angered strikers and students burned his effigy and named him "Tuta ni Marcos".

To show the boldness of their defiance of government authority and the militancy of their ideology, they set up a dictatorship in Diliman. They called it the "Diliman Commune" and identified themselves as the "communards". Erickson Baculinao was named their chairman. They installed barricades in all ingress and egress areas around the Diliman campus, guarded by student sentinels and outsiders. As a consequence, people of all sorts were trapped inside. They controlled the movements of persons and vehicles inside the campus, and they imposed a 10 o'clock curfew in the evening.

President Marcos was terribly upset with the way things are developing; especially with the way the university authorities handled the disorder. He felt that the Diliman leadership had leaned too far in accommodating the whimsical demands of the radical students. Nevertheless, he left to the university authorities the responsibility to regain control of the situation and warned that he would use the military to restore order and maintain peace in the area if they fail.

After 11 days of excruciating impasse, the general public - especially those in Diliman who experienced and saw the rudeness, abrasiveness and arbitrariness of the communards - gave its full support to the government when it said, "Enough!"

The level of violence and criminality in the country, especially in Mindanao, grew critically. Enrile had to deal with the so-called private armies: the T'boli rebellion in South Cotabato; the Higaonon uprising in Agusan; the Iranon outbreak in Buldon; the Tiruray, Ilaga and Muslim conflict in Cotabato; the political feuds of the Quibranzas and the Dimaporos and the Matalam-Pendatun group against the Sinsuat-Ampatuan-Sangki group; the Mindanao independence movement, the Blackshirts and the Barracudas; the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari; and the militant Christian for National Liberation with its theology of liberation and its basic Christian communities.

On August 21, 1971, a political rally of the Liberal Party at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, was attacked with military grenades. Many leaders of the Liberal Party were injured and severely wounded. One of them was Sen. Jovito Salonga.

Expectedly, the Liberal Party, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), their supporters, including a segment of the general public, blamed the Marcos regime for the bloody incident. And because of that so-called Plaza Miranda bombing, nearly all the Nacionalista Party candidates for the Senate lost in the 1971 national elections. Enrile was among the Nacionalista senatorial candidates who lost.

It turned out the Plaza Miranda bombing was a project of the CPP-New People's Army (NPA). This was what Col. Victor Corpuz and Salonga said in their respective books. The explosive that severely wounded the leaders of the Liberal Party was thrown by Danilo Cordero of Caloocan City, a trusted commander of the NPA. Cordero was killed later on by his own military organization, the NPA.

MV Karagatan shipment
(Enrile inspecting crates of arms and ammunition seized from MV Karagatan)

Enrile said the most significant event that made President Marcos decide to declare martial law was the MV Karagatan incident. It was the turning point. The MV Karagatan involved the infiltration of high-powered rifles, ammunitions, 40-millimeter rocket launchers, rocket projectiles, communications equipment and other assorted war materials by the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) at the Pacific side of Isabela province in Cagayan Valley. The CPP-NPA-NDF attempted a second effort - their MV Andrea project - but they failed. The MV Andrea sunk in the West Philippine Sea on its way to the country.

In the afternoon of July 4, 1972, a logger, while flying his small aircraft, spotted a ship anchored not too far away from a beach in Palanan, Isabela. The logger noticed men unloading cargoes from the ship on small boats and piles of boxes on the shoreline. The logger reported his discovery to the Philippine Constabulary (PC) in Isabela. The PC command in Isabela formed an eight-man team under Lt. Edgar Aglipay to verify the report of the logger.

Next day, July 5, early in the morning, Aglipay and his team flew to Palanan on Huey helicopters. They borrowed a tugboat there to locate the mysterious ship. Late in the afternoon, they found the ship moored in Digoyo Bay without anyone onboard. Aglipay and his team boarded the deserted ship, and they found large quantities of military supplies, foodstuffs, powerful radio sets, maps, books written in Chinese characters, poems of Ka Amado Hernandez and many empty wooden crates.

When the tugboat of the Aglipay team started to pull the ship away from its mooring place, heavy firing from the shoreline began toward the tugboat and the MV Karagatan. The chief mate of the tugboat was severely wounded, and some men onboard the MV Karagatan were also wounded. The tugboat cut loose its towing line and left the MV Karagatan behind with Aglipay and his team onboard.

The Aglipay team pleaded for help, but none came. A strong typhoon smashed the area, and it prevented any rescue operation for them either by sea or by air. Even the fighter planes that were ordered to provide them with air cover could not fly their mission. The Aglipay team was left onboard the ship harassed by gigantic waves and by intense firing from the shoreline. The Aglipay team was rescued three days later when the raging typhoon passed Digoyo Bay.

When the typhoon weakened, Arsenio "Bobby" Santos of the Philippine Army and his 32 men onboard helicopters landed on a logging camp near Digoyo Bay. From their landing area, they traveled on foot to the coast. When they reached the coast, Santos and his men engaged the rebels in battle.

Santos and his men were greatly outnumbered. Arrayed against them was an enemy force estimated to be more or less 300 men. The enemy force was reported to be under the command of the Danilo Cordero who was involved in the Plaza Miranda bombing. They fought the rebels for days. Enrile ordered the chief of staff to support them with fighter planes. Army rangers and soldiers from the presidential security command joined the battle against the rebels. Eventually, the rebels gave up, abandoned their position, and the government forces captured their camp in Digoyo.

They found initially a cache of 100 M-14 rifles, 15,000 rounds of ammunition and 40 sacks of rice. In a follow-up operation, government forces captured another pile of 491 M-14 rifles, 150,900 rounds of M-14 ammunition, 900 magazines for M-14, six sacks of magazine pouches, 40-millimeter rockets and 564 rounds of 40-millimeter rocket projectiles. At the end of the Palanan campaign, more than 1,000 M-14 rifles were recovered.

Enrile, now 93 and already retired from politics, was asked to join the government after President Marcos won as president in 1965. He was appointed to the Department of Finance on January 19, 1966 as undersecretary to Secretary Eduardo Romualdez, who was then the head of that department.

He was tasked to supervise the revenue-raising activities of the national government. At the same time, he was also made the chairman of the board of directors of the Philippine National Bank. That bank had many loan problems at that time. And one after the other, he was also designated concurrently acting commissioner of Insurance and acting commissioner of the Bureau of Customs.

Enrile stayed with the Department of Finance until late December 1968, when he was asked to move to the Department of Justice to replace Justice Secretary Claudio Teehankee, who was appointed to the Supreme Court.

Enrile recalled:

"It was in the Department of Justice where I began to know the problems of law and order in the country, especially the political and ideological activities of various militant groups, notably the newly organized Communist Party of the Philippines.

"1969 was an election year. President Marcos was running for his second term. Up to that time, no one was ever reelected president of the country. Political oppositionists, militant activists, leftist elements, and plain opportunists exploited every event, every issue, and every opportunity to bring President Marcos down."

A good example, he said, was the case of Michael Moomey, an American naval petty officer, who shot and killed Glicerio Amor in the Boton Valley Rifle and Pistol Range in the Subic Naval Base, because Moomey mistook Amor for a wild boar.

Moomey triggered a widespread emotional outrage, which the anti-Marcos and anti-American political and ideological forces seized to cause disorder in the country. Huge rallies and demonstrations were mounted against President Marcos and the Americans. The organizations that rallied and demonstrated were the National Student League, the Students Reform Movement, the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan, the Student Power Assembly of the Philippines, the Student Cultural Association, the UP Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism, the Bertrand Russell Foundation of the Philippines, the National Union of Students of the Philippines, and the Kabataang Makabayan of Jose Maria Sison, who became the head of the new Communist Party of the Philippines that he organized in December 1968. The media joined to deplore the Americans for their unjust treatment of Filipinos. The national tension became more intense when Moomey was freed and secretly left the country.

Enrile cited the Agrifina Circle incident as another example. To the present generation, Agrifina Circle - that space between the old building of the Department of Agriculture that the Department of Tourism now occupies and the old building of the Department of Finance - may now just be an ordinary place in Metro Manila.

Said Enrile:

"But, to me, Agrifina Circle was, and still is, an unforgettable place. In my time in the Department of Justice, the Agrifina Circle was the scene of an abusive and rancorous political drama. It was there where some religious personalities, students, labor groups, farmers and plain idlers staged a ‘Parliament of the Street.' It was there where I at first encountered the machination, the ire and the arrogance of ‘street parliamentarians' - the Marats, the Dantons, the Robespierres and the Madame Rolands of Philippine society at that time. It was there where I initially pitted my mind and will against people who espoused the isms that caused so much personal and social pain, bloodshed, destruction, and suffering in the world and in our country."

"The members of the crowd that sequestered Agrifina Circle summoned Cabinet members and other government functionaries at their whims. They were extremely rude, vicious, cruel and offensive. Every public officer that appeared before them was pilloried, demeaned and shamed. They booed and yelled at their hapless victims and banged tables with wooden truncheons in front of them. This caused terrible fright to their preys. A lady member of the Cabinet was so terrified when she appeared before the Agrifina crowd that she broke down hysterically.

"When my turn came to meet with that crowd, I did not go. The crowd was enraged. Imperiously, the members demanded my personal presence. I declined and refused their repeated calls. The leaders vowed publicly that they would compel the President to kick me out of the Cabinet.

"About five o'clock in the afternoon of September 23, 1969, the Agrifina Circle demonstrators marched to Malacañang. They armed themselves with wooden truncheons. Forcibly, they opened one of the perimeter gates of the Palace and rushed through the Palace grounds. They stormed the Maharlika Hall - the annex to the Palace facing the flagpole before the guardhouse.

"Rampaging, they climbed the stairway to the second floor. President Marcos and the leaders of the Nacionalista Party were having a political caucus there. When the demonstrators reached the second floor, they grew more unruly. They shouted loudly; they overturned tables; they threw chairs into the air; and they turned the whole place in disarray. President Marcos and the leaders with him watched calmly. They allowed the intruders to do their worst. None of them uttered a word or took any action.

"I knew that I was their target. While the commotion was going on, I slipped out quietly from the building to give the President a free hand to deal with the situation. I boarded my car and went home."

When Enrile arrived home in Makati, Executive Secretary Ernesto Maceda was on the telephone, informing him of the President's wish that he should meet with the crowd at Agrifina Circle. "I told Secretary Maceda that I would not, and that should the President insist that I had to, the President would have my irrevocable resignation on his desk in the morning. President Marcos did not insist."

Midnight of October 8, 1969, just over a month before the presidential election, 10 men were massacred on a deserted road between Capas, Tarlac, and the US naval radio station at Camp O'Donnell in Pampanga. The victims were civilian security guards of the radio station, except the driver of their transport vehicle.

The Liberal Party blamed the military for the massacre, and asked President Marcos to disband a paramilitary group called "Monkees", who were identified with the Philippine Constabulary.

Four days later, on October 12, Alejandro Melchor, undersecretary in the Department of National Defense, asked me to join him and Chino Roces for a trip to the town of Tarlac to hear three alleged massacre survivors, who were with Max Llorente, a lawyer. Chino Roces was a part owner and publisher of the powerful and influential Manila Times, which at the time was the leading newspaper in the country.

Enrile said:

"As I listened to the alleged survivors. I was struck by the similarities and flaws in their individual version of the event. I developed doubts in their veracity, but I kept the matter to myself. I invited them to go with me to Manila to make their sworn statements, but they declined. I assured them that the Department of Justice would protect them should they agree to become witnesses."

In the afternoon of the following day, the alleged survivors with their lawyer, Llorente, arrived onboard two private planes at the Hacienda Luisita hangar in the domestic airport in Pasay City. Sen. Benigno Aquino and the media with their television cameras met them. Senator Aquino also invited me to be there.

With great fanfare in front of a big crowd at the Hacienda Luisita hangar, Aquino demanded the arrest of Geronimo Foronda - a man alleged to have flagged down the vehicle carrying the massacre victims before they were gunned down by five fatigue uniformed men. He also demanded the ouster of the Philippine Constabulary men in the province of Tarlac.

Enrile said:

"Senator Aquino turned over to me the alleged survivors as his witnesses to the massacre. I received them and kept them onboard a Philippine Navy ship with my instruction to the naval commander never to allow anyone to see them without my written permission, except their lawyer and next of kin."

Meanwhile, the NBI arrested Serafin Agustin and Jose Santos for interrogation. During a lineup at the NBI compound on Taft Avenue in Manila, the three alleged survivors - Hernandez, Lakandula and Belmes - readily identified Agustin and Santos as among the perpetrators of the massacre.

According to Enrile, he was not satisfied with the result of the investigation. "My doubt regarding the veracity of the alleged survivors still lingered. To avoid an injustice and to satisfy myself, I ordered the NBI to conduct a polygraph or lie-detector test on the alleged survivors and on the two arrested suspects, Agustin and Santos."

The result of the lie-detector test confirmed Enrile's suspicion. The three alleged survivors turned out to be false witnesses, while Agustin, Santos and Foronda were found innocent.

Enrile met Alejandro Melchor and Chino Roces at the Manila Yacht Club and informed them about the result of the lie-detector test. "Both were shocked and speechless with disbelief. We hurriedly called Senator Aquino who was in the Senate and informed him about the result of the polygraph test. He disclaimed knowledge of the falsity of the witnesses. He simply and curtly said, "Bahala na kayo diyan!"

President Ferdinand E. Marcos was deeply alarmed with the landing of such a large quantity of weapons into the country. The public, too, was jolted. Calls for punitive action swelled. Many quarters openly suggested the declaration of martial law. But Marcos calmed the public. He said, "The situation is no cause for hysteria. There is no reason to panic. The government is on top of things. There is no need for martial law to deal with the problem."

The Liberal Party called the MV Karagatan incident a palabas. The Manila Chronicle declared it a "hoax".

Marcos said:

"All I can say is that I wish the Liberals would go into the area and do some fighting instead of talking. And I wish they would help the country instead of trying to protect the communists. And they should be glad that there are some of us who are still ready to fight the communists."

The Karagatan incident was a vital and tragic error of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF). That event mortally derailed the communist movement in the country. After that incident, the CPP, its military arm, the NPA, and its united front, the NDF, were never able to recover from that disaster.

The MV Karagatan event also affected President Marcos immensely. He wasted no time to convene a military conference where he said, "The Karagatan presents a new and serious dimension to the insurgency problem of the country. It means the subversive elements have succeeded to open a supply line to support their operations."

He asked the command conference to reassess all military plans. Ominously he said, "I will not allow the problem to go out of control. I will nip it in the bud."

"I never saw or heard President Marcos talk or act that way before. He was grave, firm and resolute. On my way out of that command conference, the thought flashed in my mind that martial law was nigh," Enrile said.

True enough, not long after, he convened another command conference. This time, he ordered the preparation of a plan for the declaration of martial law. No one in that command conference asked any question or raised any objection.

Meanwhile, as if providence was with Marcos, the destructive typhoon that battered the MV Karagatan at Digoyo Bay brought a huge flood in Central Luzon. Lingayen Gulf and Manila Bay became one vast expanse of water from end to end. That natural calamity added more severity to the misery and distress of the people. Foodstuffs dwindled, hoarding became rampant, prices of goods and commodities soared, and food riots became clear and present danger.

In Mindanao violence among Moslems, Christians and indigenous tribes rose to a high pitch. Individuals were forcibly driven from their lands. Families were rendered homeless.

In Luzon and some parts of the Visayas, the struggle and bloodshed between the communists and government forces continued without let up. And this was especially true in the Cagayan Valley where the CPP-NPA transferred their main base and operations.

In Metro Manila bombings occurred randomly. Armed groups paraded proudly their high-powered weapons. Chronic anarchy became a daily experience for the beleaguered residents of the metropolis.

On September 12, 1972, Marcos announced that he was studying the use of "extraordinary presidential powers" to arrest the communist threat to the country. Enrile said that announcement triggered a shockwave throughout the land. "The media, the political opposition and the United States embassy badgered me with anxious questions. But, I kept my mouth shut."

After that, Marcos called a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC). He wanted the NSC to know the gravity of the security situation in the country. The members of the NSC at that time included representatives from the two main political parties. Enrile was the chairman of the Executive Committee of the NSC, being the secretary of defense.

Marcos invited the leaders of the opposition to the national security meeting. But the opposition leaders did not heed his invitation. None of them attended the meeting. Instead, heated verbal exchanges exploded between Marcos and the leaders of the Liberal Party - especially Sens. Gerardo D. Roxas, Benigno S. Aquino Jr., Jovito R. Salonga and Ramon V. Mitra Jr.

On September 22, 1972, before 6 o'clock in the evening, Maj. Roland Pattugalan, an Aide de Camp of Marcos, arrived in Enrile's office. He brought three sealed brown envelopes, which contained the martial-law documents that Enrile drafted earlier.

"After he delivered the documents to me," he said, "The President wants you to convene the Chief of Staff, the J-Staff, and the commanding generals of the Army, the constabulary, the Air Force and the Navy. The President wants you to tell them that the operation shall proceed as scheduled, and that starting tonight, at 9 o'clock, the country will be under martial law."

Marcos based his declaration of martial law on Section 10, Paragraph 2, of the 1935 Constitution, which provided that: "The President shall be the commander in chief of all Armed Forces of the Philippines, and, whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such Armed Forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection, or rebellion or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it, he may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law."

In their quest for social, economic and political control of the country, the CPP, the NPA and the NDF exploited and used every means and every opportunity to inflict disruptions, destructions and bloodshed in the country to induce a revolutionary situation - an indispensable element that was sorely lacking in their bloody quest for power.

"But they did not succeed," Enrile said, adding that:

"The overwhelming majority of Filipinos just did not believe and support them. More than that, our organic law had in it - like all legitimate and well-organized social systems on the planet - an embedded legal safeguard to make our country exist and persist beyond the lifetime of any of its members."

Enrile told a Wednesday Forum held on February 15, 2017, at the Cosmopolitan Church of Christ in the Philippines:

"What I presented to you briefly this afternoon is the story of why and how martial law was declared in our land. Martial law is a neutral concept. It is neither good nor bad per se. It is used as an instrument of national policy when necessity demands it. Whether it is beneficial or destructive will depend on a variety of circumstances.

"In our case, the question that will always remain unanswered with clear certitude is this: If President Marcos did not declare martial law, what could or might have happened to the country? I am sure every one of us has an individual opinion about that."

Enrile concluded:

"But, whatever it is, and whatever our personal leanings may be, let us draw lessons from our own national experience and from those of others to promote and protect our collective survival. This, to me, is the underlying imperative of our existence as a people, as a nation, and as a social system."


  • A series of articles, Why President Marcos declared martial law, June 21, 2017 - July 10, 2017, Cecilio Arillo, Business Mirror

(This article is adapted from the source listed above. We are unable to grant permission for any kind of reproduction other than social media shares.)


Comments (Enrile's account on why Martial Law was declared by President Marcos in 1972)