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'Manila Miracle' Raises Questions

December 11, 1986

I get the distinct impression from the dispatches of Mark Fineman from Manila that a bloody confrontation between the pro-Aquino and the pro-Enrile factions in the military was averted because Enrile "calmly" accepted his ouster from the defense ministership. He is thus being made to appear as a hero, when all these months he was clearly the villain.

If credit must be given for defusing an explosive situation, it should be to Gen. Ramos who threw the support of the Philippine armed forces behind President Aquino. He may have demonstrated that the military is the key to success in a power struggle, but another way of looking at Ramos' action is the affirmation of the military's duty to defend the duly constituted government, whoever may be at the head of it.

By a political decision, Ramos has taken a big step towards depoliticizing the armed forces. On the day he neutralizes Enrile's allies in the military, Ramos said, "The Ministry of National Defense is civilian." We believe he will see to it that it remains that way.

I would like to correct the information that deposed President Marcos "then an ambitious lawyer running for the senate, came to him (Enrile) in 1964 and asked for his active support." Marcos was already a senator then. He was in fact the senate president with presidential aspirations in the 1965 national elections. However, the Liberal Party, of which he was a ranking member, was behind the reelection bid of President Diosdado P. Macapagal. Consequently, Marcos bolted over to the opposition Nacionalista Party which put him up as its candidate against Macapagal.

Enrile was a political nonentity then. He joined the Marcos Administration as undersecretary of finance upon the recommendation of his fraternity brother Rafael M. Salas, Marcos' executive secretary. Enrile ran for the Philippine senate in 1971, the last free elections before martial law, and lost. He got elected only during the Marcos regime wherein elections were rigged.

Even in the presidential election last February, Enrile admitted to committing fraud to make Marcos win in his region. Obviously, Enrile's political strength is overrated. This is also true with his so-called support from the military. When he speaks, he often boasted, it is not Enrile speaking but the entire military establishment. It now appears that he was only talking through his hat.


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