In another hitherto unrevealed fact about the EDSA People Power revolt, one of its key figures, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said both former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino offered him control of government at the height of the rebellion but which he dismissed.
Enrile, during the Daily Tribune’s “Straight Talk” episode to mark the 1986 uprising said an emissary of Aquino, former Palawan Representative, the late Ramon Mitra Jr. visited him in his house in Dasmariñas Village for a meeting where Mitra unveiled Aquino’s offer for him to take over the government.
Mitra also promised the Marcos oppositions full support on an Enrile takeover.
“That was 9 or 10 February 1986 when the plan of the supporters of Aquino was to establish a revolutionary government in Mindanao,” according to Enrile.
That was also before the proclamation of President Marcos as winner in the snap elections, he recalled.
Enrile said he told Mitra “Mon, we do not have any plan like that.”
The key military officer at that time in Mindanao was Rodolfo “Pong” Biazon who was quite sympathetic to Cory Aquino, Enrile noted.
On 22 February, Enrile led the breakaway military group that started the 1986 revolt.
On 9 February, 35 computer workers at the Commission on Elections tabulation center in the Philippine International Convention Center walked out and sought refuge at the Baclaran Church to protest the alleged tampering of election results.
The second offer for him to take the reins of government was in 25 February, this time from the then beleaguered Marcos.
At that time, in front of then Vice Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos, Marcos offered me the government.
“I will transfer the government to you and you can do whatever you want,” Enrile quoted Marcos as telling him.
“I will just step aside and you run the government,” Marcos supposedly added.
Enrile, however, did not bite as he said “Mr. President we have no such intention, we have already committed ourselves to Cory.”
Enrile recounted that he told Marcos “we are already on our way to Club Filipino to attend her (Cory’s) oath taking ceremony.”
Palace under siege
Marcos called me and asked “Johnny do you have any men around Malacañang?” to which Enrile answered “no sir, we were never near Malacañang.”
Then Enrile was told there were people firing at Malacañang and Marcos asked “Can you send some men to stop this firing?”
That was when Enrile wondered what happened to the Presidential Security Command. He told Marcos “I will do that Mr. President.”
In a previous revelation, Enrile said the target of the withdrawal of support of Enrile’s group was not directed at Marcos but a junta that was formed by key military officers led by then Armed Forces Chief of Staff Fabian Ver.
Enrile said he relayed to Marcos that he will send Gen. Prospero Olivas, who have then defected to the Reform the Armed Forces Movement of Enrile.
“At that point, I mentioned casually that I just had a conversation with Bosworth who told Enrile that the American government will support the mutineers,” he said.
“Marcos stopped for a while and told me ‘Johnny can you call again Ambassador Bosworth and ask him to make available the then head of the Joint US Military Assistance Group to evacuate my family.’”
That was when I realized that Marcos was ready to leave, according to Enrile.
Cory takes over
Cory returned to Manila on Monday, 24 February 1986, afternoon but she never showed her face and stayed in the house of her sister Josephine Cojuangco.
That was when I saw Cory for the first time at about 6 pm when Marcos already evacuated Malacañang. That was also when Aquino talked to then US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth and told him that “Marcos should not be taken by the US not to Paoay (Ilocos Norte) but to Hawaii.”
“I don’t want him here, take him out,” Enrile said he overheard Aquino telling Bosworth.
There were negotiations that happened between the camp of Aquino represented by (former Finance Secretary) Jaime Ongpin and at Enrile’s end former Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte and then Misamis Oriental Gov. Homobono Adaza who are also with the group of Vice President Doy Laurel.
“I suggested that the better thing to do was to form a temporary government to run the protracted event that was facing us,” according to Enrile.
Enrile, thus, brought up the concept of a provisional government composed of five Cabinet members who are the secretaries of defense, justice, foreign affairs, finance and local government while Cory will be proclaimed the President and Laurel the Vice President.
“I thought that an agreement was reached since Ongpin gave his assent to it but the next morning, My God, they have filled up all positions in the Cabinet. They did not go through with our agreement,” according to Enrile.
That was the start of the distrust between us, Enrile revealed.