resetting the record straight #EDSA

i’m wrapping up a final book on EDSA UNO so i flinched only a little before paying php 1,650 for JUAN PONCE ENRILE: A Memoir (2012) the very day after it was launched.  i went straight for chapter 13, “The Four Days of EDSA,” and found myself sighing through it, resigning myself to another last-na-talaga tweak of my manuscript to take into the text and endnotes the stuff he confirms, and qualifies, and glosses over.  happily, consuelo de bobo, none of it changes my reading that it was people power that freaked marcos out of the palace.

at the end of  the chapter, i turned the page idly to see what next, and was blown away by chapter 14, “Setting The Record Straight,” where i found myself in hallowed company.

fr. reuter and the cardinal

in the first 9 pages, enrile disputes two items in Fr. Reuter’s People Power–The Philippine Revolution of 1986: one, cardinal’s sin’s account that that enrile phoned him on saturday afternoon 22 feb “almost crying” and afraid to die — pure fabrication, cardinal sin lied; two, fr. reuter’s account of a “crame war room” scene on tuesday 25 feb afternoon — fiction, fr. reuter lied.  i leave it to editor monina allarey-mercado to defend fr. reuter and the cardinal.

me and my chronology

in the next page and a half enrile takes me to task, and so harshly, it felt like a fist to my solar plexus.

Another Fiction

Another book was written with the title “1986–Chronology of a Revolution.” The author was Angela Stuart-Santiago, and the editor was Lorna Kalaw-Tirol.’

On page 180 of that book, these paragraphs appeared:

“The First Family made their getaway from the Reception Hall where all of them gathered during those final hours, down a flight of stairs to Heroes Hall, boarding the presidential barge to cross the Pasig River till they reached the lawn of Malacanang Park where the two helicopters awaited them.

“Enrile was waiting (for Marcos) in the shadows, covered by his own RAM guard. The two men had worked together closely for nearly thirty years, enriching each other beyond most men’s fantasies. They knew things about each other that nobody else knew. According to witnesses, the meeting ended with words of conciliation and a long embrace between the two men.”

The second paragraph was complete false. It was not only an unpardonable falsehood, it was also meant intentionally and maliciously to tarnish my name and my role in the 1986 Edsa Revolution. It intended to portray me to the people as a disreputable, despicable, and a (sic) double-crosser.

How in heaven’s name could I have possibly been “waiting…in the shadows” for President Marcos in Malacanang at that moment. I was then in Wack-Wack with President Aquino. When I left her, I went straight to my office in Camp Aguinaldo. I waited there for Ted Koppel who interviewed me that evening. Whoever concocted that false story was lying through her or his teeth to the people.

The inventor of that falsehood also said in the same paragraph that President Marcos and I “had worked together closely for nearly thirty years.”

The writer of the book was truly uninformed about me. President Marcos was a total stranger to me until I met him in mid-1964. I began to work for Presdient Marcos only in January 1966. He asked me to join his administration after he won the presidency in the national election in 1965. It was not true as the writer wrote that I worked closely with him for “nearly thirty years.”

The writer of the book also said that President Marcos and I enriched “each other beyond most men’s fantasies.” Modesty aside, I was engaged in active and lucrative law practice before I joined the Marcos regime. I had as my client many of the biggest corporations of the country at that time.

According to that second paragraph, President Marcos and I “knew things about each other that nobody else knew.”

All my dealings, actions, decisions, and transactions throughout my twenty years with the Marcos regime involving the government and persons here and abroad were done openly and publicly. I had no secrets of any kind.

If President Marcos knew any misconduct that I had committed, he would certainly have exposed it to the public during those four days of the 1986 Edsa Revolution. The fact was that he made no such expose’ (sic) against me because he had nothing to expose about me. [pp. 649-650]

i didn’t write that paragraph, sterling seagrave did; it’s on page 419 of his book The Marcos Dynasty (Harper and Row, New York, 1988).  my chronology was purely a timeline, every source, whether a publication or personal interview, a primary source, clearly indicated at every point.  i hardly wrote any of it, except for the introduction.

i would ask of enrile’s editor nelson navarro and publisher abs-cbn publishing, inc. the same question enrile asks of monina allarey-mercado re cardinal sin’s alleged lies:

I … do not why know why the editor … did not bother to check from Cristina and from me whether the alleged words and emotional behaviors ascribed to us reflected the truth. [643]

i do not know why, i cannot believe that, editor nelson navarro did not bother to check my chronology and see that the offending paragraph was clearly ascribed to seagrave.  or maybe he did, but maybe it didn’t matter, the object was to vilify me, maybe render my edsa works questionable?  i don’t know.

chronology came out in 1996.  enrile could have immediately notified me, or my editor, or my publisher and contested seagrave’s account; then it would not be part, too, of Himagsikan sa EDSA–Walang Himala (2000), or i would at least have qualified the item with an endnote.

or what if, instead, enrile had  come out earlier with the info that at the time marcos was flying off, he was meeting with cory in wack wack?  then most likely i would have given him the benefit of the doubt and cited seagrave only in the endnotes, if at all.

eggie apostol

the final four pages of chapter 14 are devoted to eggie, mother of the post-ninoy mosquito press, whose Foundation for Worldwide People Power published both my EDSA books, Chronology (1996) and Himagsikan (2000).  i gather that enrile is referring to these books when he says:

In the aftermath of the Edsa Revolution, many more such attempts like those I narrated above have succeeded in conditioning the minds of many Filipinos to believe their lies against me; to portray me as a person who wanted power for himself, whose attempt was discovered by Marcos, and who used the military and the Filipino to save his own skin. [653-654]

the way i read it (correct me if i’m wrong), enrile is unhappy with EDSA accounts that state the historical facts: there was a reformist coup plot that sought to install him in marcos’s place.  the coup plot was discovered and he was told that there were warrants out for his and the reformists’ arrests.  he chose to take a stand in camp aguinaldo and appealed to the people for support.  the people came in great numbers, stopped tanks, and indeed saved their skins.  nothing he says in the memoir gives the lie to any of that.  unless he means to say that they could have lived through an assault by marcos forces even without the people’s support, which would be debatable.

There have also been many attempts by some people who wanted to “enlarge”, “enhance” or even “invent” their participation and role, if any, in the Edsa Revolution. [654]

i suppose “some people” refers principally to cory, who, enrile once said, was not even in EDSA, or something like that.  in fact, cory visited EDSA the afternoon of feb 24 monday, but even if she had not, cory was there in spirit — the massive crowds were wearing her colors and chanting her name all through the four days.

Because I was imvolved in politics, the systematic vilification against me was easy to understand and to even forgive. But the disservice done to me was nothing compared to the equally systemic attempt to minimize, if not totally eradicate from the annals of history, the role of the courageous and patriotic soldiers of the land who dared and who were willing and ready to sacrifice their families, their blood and their lives to free the people from a regime that had long lost its moral right to govern. It is something unpardonable and something that I have detested all these years. It showed me the callousness, perfidy and ingratitude of those who benefitted most from the 1986 Edsa Revolution. [654]

here, enrile could be referring to other EDSA accounts.  but if he’s still referring to mine that eggie published, i don’t see how it can be said that i attempted to “minimize, if not totally eradicate from the annals of history” the role of the rebel military.  i tell it as it happened, based on published and first-person reports.  the reformists broke away and the people marched to EDSA to shield them from the dictator.

what i do say is that if enrile and ramos had not defected, people power would have happened anyway.  feb 22 was the 7th day of the crony boycott, the economy was reeling, the people were in the throes of nonviolent revolution, marcos’s inauguration would have brought them to the streets anyway, straight to mendiola, most likely, there to face tanks and marines just as bravely and stunningly.  but as it happened, the military reformists did defect, good for them, and we continue to celebrate that day as the beginning of the four days of EDSA.

the final sentence, i don’t get.  who is enrile accusing of “callousness, perfidy and ingratitude”?  eggie pa rin?  for publishing Chronology and Himagsikan?  it needs saying that eggie didn’t commission me to write either one, and did not in any way attempt to influence or edit my reading of, and writing on, the four days’ events.  Himagsikan had already won an honorable mention in the 1998 philippine centennial literary contest when eggie published it.

it bears pointing out, too, that from the first, my work on EDSA was offered as a tentative framework, its format styled for easy editing and/or re-arranging in case of credible challenge.


  1. Perhaps he is a desperate man nearing the end of his life, terribly concerned that his past is a few too many arguments short of significant. It is surreal that he seems determined to exit leaving sourness in our memories when he could have had admiration.

    • The problem with time line history is you are narrating events without reading the intentions and justifications for the course of action. Perhaps, JPE was right that with their (Ramos) defection, the military high command was already divided signalling a crack in the Marcos defense giving the people power the needed moral support to take over for a successful and bloodless coup detat. Fortunately, their attempt for power grabbing was not acceptable to the leaders of the new installed govt and the rest is history. Hence, the role of the most important ingredient for a successful coup de tat was relegated as just a spice of the event.

  2. manuelbuencamino


    Does he apologize for his role in the dictatorship? Did he say sorry that he was the enforcer of a military rule that was responsible for the forced detention, torture, and salvaging of thousands?

    • manuel, still making buwelo to really read the martial law part, but judging from tv interviews and that docu, parang the line is that martial law was needed bec of the npa and mnlf insurgencies. the forced detention, torture, salvaging atbp he blames on ver and to a certain extent i think on imelda. i hope the leftists are reading it too…