The distrust shared between the late President Corazon Aquino and former Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile started the day she took her oath of office at San Juan City in February 1986.
In an exclusive Daily Tribune interview, Enrile claimed that Aquino’s group did not abide by their agreement to establish a provisional government composed only of Aquino as the President, Salvador “Doy” Laurel as Vice President and only five Cabinet posts — defense, justice, foreign affairs, finance and local government.
Enrile said that the deal was reached between his emissaries, former Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte and then Misamis Oriental Gov. Homobono Adaza, who were with the group of Laurel. Former Finance Secretary Jaime Ongpin represented Aquino.
“I thought that an agreement was reached since Ongpin gave his assent to it. I thought that was it. But the next morning, my God, they have filled up all positions in the Cabinet. They did not go through with our agreement,” Enrile shared.
“That was the start of the mistrust between us,” added Enrile, who, at that time, had withdrawn support from the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, along with his close security aides from the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), triggering the EDSA People Power I starting 22 February 1986.
Enrile stressed that had he been aware then that Aquino’s group would turn its back on the agreement, the country’s history post the Marcos leadership would have been different.
“I did not know yet that she filled up all the Cabinet positions, that’s why we were there (at Club Filipino). Had I known, maybe the history of the country would have been different,”
Pressed how different, Enrile said “just let it go. It will be speculation.”
Aquino took oath as President at the Club Filipino in San Juan on 25 February 1986. Hours later, the Marcoses abandoned Malacañang.
RAM moved vs junta
Then Marcos’ defense minister, Enrile explained that Aquino was never in the equation of the RAM, which was formed following the discovery on a junta led by then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff the late Gen. Favian Ver.
“If there was no snap election, the EDSA event that happened on 22nd February 1986 would have happened 31st December of 1985 because that was our timetable. We never expected any people power, we assumed pure military action,” Enrile explained.
“It just so happened that the political condition of the country was so fired up already at that point, that people started to come around when we were already in Camp Aguinaldo,” he added.
Earlier, Enrile bared to Daily Tribune that he learned about the junta as early as December 1982, prompting him to re-organize his security battalion that eventually became the nucleus of the RAM, composed of then Army Lieutenant Colonels Gregorio Honasan and Eduardo Kapunan.
Enrile said the original plan of RAM in going against Ver’s junta was to establish a five-man revolutionary government composed of Aquino, himself and Rafael Salas as civilian leaders, and then AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos and Lt. Gen. Rafael Ileto as the military component.
“That was supposed to be the governing body for the country in the interim while we are transitioning towards democratic condition because we’ll have to conduct elections and bring back congress and then restore the presidency,” Enrile said.
Enrile also told Daily Tribune about having been offered by Marcos and Aquino’s emissary, the late Speaker Ramon Mitra, to lead the government during those turbulent times.
He said that Marcos offered him the country’s leadership hours before the First Family left Malacanang. Enrile said Ramos was present during the face-to-face talk with the late strongman.
On the other hand, Mitra made the offer days before the people power revolt.
Enrile said he refused them both.