Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s claim in his autobiography that he was ambushed in Wack-Wack Subdivision in Mandaluyong City on Sept. 22, 1972, “defies logic,” according to the former Philippine Constabulary general who investigated Ferdinand Marcos’ justification for placing the Philippines under martial law.
In a report published on Friday by Yahoo! News, retired Gen. Ramon Montaño Jr., who is running for the Senate as an independent candidate, said he was part of the team that investigated the supposed ambush and he knew early on that it was staged.
In an interview with the Inquirer on Monday, Montaño said the bullet holes on Enrile’s car were “very neatly aligned” and the supposed automatic gunfire “conveniently missed all the occupants.”
Such an outcome, he said, would have been “impossible” had the car really been speeding when it was raked with automatic gunfire.
“They alleged they were intercepted and there was gunfire. If you do that, [bullet holes should be] all over [the car]. But in this case, [the bullet holes] were very neatly aligned and then no one was hit,” Montaño said.
“It defies logic,” he added.
Montaño said that at the time, he was with the intelligence branch of the Philippine Constabulary’s Criminal Investigation Service (CIS).
He said he neither submitted a report on his investigation nor meddled with the official report, preferring to keep quiet in light of the imposition of martial law.
At the start of the People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos from power in February 1986, Enrile himself told reporters that the ambush was faked.
But in his autobiography published last September, Enrile said the ambush was real.
So whose memory is correct—Enrile’s or Montaño’s?
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago wants the Senate to investigate Enrile “in aid of legislation” for what she called “brazen false claims” involving the supposed ambush.
In a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer, Santiago said she had set the inquiry for July after the opening of the 16th Congress and Montaño would be called as a witness.
Montaño’s statements in the Yahoo! News report spurred Santiago’s initiative.
Montaño, former commander of the now defunct Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP), forerunner of today’s Philippine National Police, in the administration of President Cory Aquino, said in the Yahoo! News report that he stopped reading Enrile’s 700-plus-page autobiography after getting to the part where Enrile insisted the ambush was real.
‘Full of lies’
He said he could not finish reading the book “because it was full of lies.”
Montaño also said Enrile initially supported the presidential bid of the widow of assassinated opposition Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., Cory Aquino, but when he realized that she was winning, he proposed a junta that he would lead.
“[T]hey wanted to recruit our troops [to] their junta because they said she (Cory Aquino) would support communists, that she would appoint communists to her Cabinet,” Montaño said in his interview with the Inquirer on Monday.
“Gringo’s propaganda was very good,” he said, referring to the then Army colonel, now senator, Gregorio Honasan, Enrile’s trusted military aide in 1986.
“So we had a hard time keeping troops on the side of Cory. General [Fidel] Ramos and I were walking on a tightrope because they had charisma. Even the WAC (Women’s Auxiliary Corps) was angry with us,” Montaño said.
Enrile eventually dropped the junta plan after realizing that Cory Aquino enjoyed huge public support, Montaño added.
At the start of the Edsa People Power Revolution, Enrile told reporters that the ambush was staged to provide the dictator a convenient excuse to place the Philippines under martial law.
Enrile’s revised account of the ambush in his autobiography, “Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir,” greatly disturbed many readers who could still recall his statement to journalists that the ambush was scripted.
Members of the Senate President’s staff said Enrile did not want to comment on Montaño’s statement. They said Enrile, one of the leaders of the opposition coalition for May’s midterm elections, was busy with meetings and preparations for the proclamation of the group’s senatorial candidates in Cebu City on Tuesday.
In her statement to the Inquirer, Santiago said Enrile “may have committed any of the several crimes punishable by the Penal Code, such as unlawful use of means of publication, falsification by a public officer of a document, or falsification by private individual.”
Unlawful use of means of publication, she said, is publication by anyone by any means of news or false news that “may cause damage to the interest of the State.”
Falsification of document by a public officer, she said, is making it appear that people participated in any act or proceeding when, in fact, they did not, or “by making untruthful statements in a narration of facts.”
Santiago added that falsification by a private individual is “committed by any person who, to the damage of a third party, shall in any private document commit acts of falsification.”
“Whatever the crime, the basic rule is that the accused should have violated public faith and destroyed the truth, as decided by the Supreme Court in the 1985 case of Gamido, and the separate case of Sabiano,” Santiago said.
“The Enrile book caused a scandal because his claims have no relation to political reality. But the scandal will be finally settled when General Montaño appears in a Senate hearing. He has already told me that regardless of the Senate campaign results, he is willing to testify in a public hearing and affirm his statements against Enrile,” Santiago said.
“The rule of evidence will apply to Enrile: False in one thing, false in all things. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” she added.
‘Variance from history’
In the Yahoo! News report, Montaño said that when he was appointed PC-INP chief by President Cory Aquino, he headed a team tasked to look into the supposed ambush. The team returned a report stating that the ambush was faked.
“This is one of the major variance from history,” Montaño said.
Montaño also served as adviser on political affairs to President Fidel Ramos.—With a report from Tarra Quismundo
Originally posted: 6:19 pm | Monday, February 11th, 2013