the ambush was “staged”

I said the ambush was staged, but I did not say who staged it… I never said I faked it or staged my own ambush… What do they think, that I will park my car and shoot it? 

that’s senate president juan ponce enrile in a howie severino interview two days ago.  here’s his version of the september 22, 1972 ambush according to inquirer:

… his three-vehicle convoy was driving through Wack Wack subdivision on his way home to Dasmariñas Village from Camp Aguinaldo where he had just briefed top military officers on the implementation of martial law.

“A speeding car rushed and passed the escort car where I was riding. Suddenly, it opened several bursts of gunfire toward my car and sped away. The attack was so sudden that it caught everyone by surprise. No one in the convoy was able to fire back,” Enrile said in the book.

and here’s the version of oscar lopez, patriarch of the lopez family that owns ABS-CBN Publishing Inc. that published enrile’s book.

Oscar Lopez, who lived in Wack Wack where the ambush supposedly took place, narrated his memory of that fateful night in the 2000 book, “Phoenix: The Saga of the Lopez Family.”

“After the shooting died down, I went out. I took a peek at what was happening outside my fence, and I saw this car riddled with bullets. Nobody was hurt; there was no blood. The car was empty,” Lopez said in the book.

The car was Enrile’s. At the time, Lopez did not know who owned the car, but he did know “it had been no ambush.”

“Our driver happened to be bringing our car into our driveway at around that time, so he saw the whole thing. He told me that there was this car that came by and stopped beside a Meralco post. Some people started riddling it with bullets to make it look like it was ambushed. But nobody got killed or anything like that. My driver saw this. He was describing it to me,” Lopez said.

we need to know what enrile really said.  maybe enrile remembers it correctly, he only said that the ambush was “staged,” and since media didn’t ask, staged by whom, it is now open to interpretation; had the question been asked, then enrile might have answered, by the dissidents (as it seems he is alleging, correct me if i’m wrong), and we would not be arguing about this now.

and then, again, if it had been a real ambush by the communists, and he had had a chance to say that it was staged by the communists, that would have sounded oh-so-like marcos, di ba, and it would have worked against him.  why even bring it up at such a time when he was appealing for our sympathy and support?  why would he, master of spin, even risk being likened to marcos who blamed everything on the communists?

the consensus of countless people, filipinos and foreigners, who heard that presscon is that he said, in effect, that it was faked.  and it makes sense, considering that at the time, he was out to convince us that he had turned his back on marcos, and what better way than to confirm what we had suspected all along about that ambush, and also about cheating in cagayan.  of course we lapped it all up, it was all so deliciously anti-marcos.

so now he’s saying he said nothing of the kind.  it was a true ambush.  which means what, we all misheard him in feb 22, 1972 1986 and it’s taken him this long to straighten us out?

how about, let’s hear those radio veritas tapes of that presscon.  i’ve tried “Listen to History: The Veritas/Radyo Bandido Broadcasts – February 22-25, 1986.” Interaksyon Online. February 2012 but i can’t find the ambush quote in the replays that are putol-putol.  maybe i just missed it.  how about uploading the 7 pm presscon in one go?  are there competent transcripts of the proceedings?

but the real question is, why is enrile suddenly so keen now, after 26 long years, to make the point that it was a real ambush.  is he playing with us?  are lawyers betting, he’s so galing, he can convince the people that it was for real, even if he has said it was fake?  siguro naman hindi, but that would be wild.

the only other explanation that occurs to me is that it could be in defense of marcos.  perhaps he thinks  it would make marcos smell less foul if we deleted from our memory banks the fake ambush; after all, marcos did not need such a pretext to declare martial law that night?

we believed him then, but he’s saying we heard wrong then.  so why should we believe him now, we may be hearing him wrong yet again.  once burned, twice shy.


  1. manuelbuencamino

    The car was sprayed with bullets. But nobody was killed, nobody even suffered a scratch. So the ambush was staged. But not by Enrile. Someone else staged the ambush. He gave strict instructions to the fake assassins to make it look real – drive fast, overtake Enrile’s convoy and spray Enrile’s car with bullets – but make sure no one gets hurt. Ahm….

    • @mb :)It is inconsequential to me if the ambush on JPE was staged or faked. I have already forgiven his role as Marcos’ hatchet man during the imposition of ML when he confessed on TV in 1986 (watched by many of us,OFWs, in the Middle East) his participation in that event and in cheating of votes in the regions controlled by him during the canvassing of the 1986 Snap elections. Perhaps, we should ignore his own “lapse of judgement” as a senior citizen. The first and last time i came across JPE was when he was seating across a hotel bar counter somewhere in Roxas Blvd, drinking to his defeat in the senatorial elections which he attributed partly to the student activism at that time. I was at the hotel as road show rep to watch our JHImperial agency’ foreign act show during my semestral break in college. He thought i was snooping on his drinking and left immediately after staring a few seconds thinking maybe i was an activist and monitoring his activities. In fact, i wanted to meet him and talk to him as I know he was instrumental in having a working visa for a sister’s application at the UN office in New York. But he is so smart and security conscious, i didnt get the chance.

  2. manuelbuencamino


    To forgive is good….except the man denies he staged the ambush, padded votes, and acted as Marcos’ hatchet man to use your term for martial law enforcer so it’s a bit difficult to forgive when he has not admitted his wrongs, expressed remorse and apologized for them.

    So if I went up to him and told him I forgive him he would most likely reply “Forgive me for what? I have done nothing wrong!!!!”

    I guess forgiveness will have to wait until he asks for it.

    • @mb: That is my own personal view on the political sins and imputed criminal offenses committed by JPE. But by turning allegiance to the election of Cory and risking his life with the RAM boys against Marcos, apologizing later to the Ilocos people for his role in the EDSA I event, he indirectly admitted his irreversible conversion to be at fault for being a traitor to the people. As to the request for forgiveness from the general public, I believe his being elected and re-elected senator is a proof that the people has forgiven and forgotten whatever crime he must pay.

      • jojie-die hard Pinoy

        @mb :=(. JPE might be the legal brains behind ML being the ex-secretary of justice, but the whole military covert operatives were implemented by the national intelligence police esp. in Central Luzon.. Remember, FVR headed the Phil Constabulary (PC) which was the counterpart of today’s PNP. It was the PC who introduced salvaging and tortures spearheaded by Metrocom whose generals, the likes of Gen. Lacson, were pursuing clandestine operations against activists and leftist organizations. It is not far fetched FVR is likewise a part and parcel of military abuses and in fact to atone for his atrocities against the Left, he granted amnesty to the leaders of the Communist party and even repealed the Anti-communist law. Therefore, i think is unfair for JPE to be crucified alone for the crimes during the ML. Just thinking aloud.

  3. ricelander

    if anything, it provokes people to react and perhaps write too about their own reflections and personal experiences during the period. enrile is being less than honest– that much we can say. but let us see how much honesty the rest could share and commit to posterity.

  4. CARLOS ESTEBAN JR: If Enrile was really ambushed inside Wack Wack Subdivision on the eve of the declaration of martial law, the unsuccessful assassins must be the descendants of the Keystone cops with brains the size of a peanut.

    Not even a moron would ambush the second-most powerful man in the country inside Wack Wack Subdivision, which is a gated and well-guarded enclave of the very rich. In the evening, the time when Enrile was supposedly ambushed, there were only two gates in the subdivision where entry and egress were allowed: the gate near the main entrance of the Wack Wack Golf Club and the gate leading to Ortigas Avenue, in front of La Salle Greenhills. Any motorized assassin could easily have been stopped at any of the gates and arrested. And what indeed were the security escorts of Enrile doing? Why did they not give chase to the alleged assassin?

    Whereas if the Enrile ambush were indeed fake, which it obviously was, what better place to stage such a charade than inside a private subdivision, away from the sight of public motorists and pedestrians?