Enrile: CPP-NPA — and China — provoked Martial Law imposition

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RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

THE Yellow Cult’s narrative has been that Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law in September 1972 in order perpetuate himself in power, as the Constitution barred him from running for a third term, as he was already on his second, which was to end in 1973.

But history, as has long been pointed out, is written by the victors. In our case, these were primarily the Aquino-Cojuangco clan and a faction of our ruling class, especially the Lopez and Osmeña clans that Marcos had persecuted and portrayed as his Exhibit A as the rightist oligarchs threatening the Republic.

The resurrected oligarchs of course needed badly to demonize Marcos to propagate the myth that his overthrow was a national uprising against him, and not just a metropolitan Manila episode backed by the US and triggered by a bungling coup attempt against him. And, of course they had the press, the creator really of what the public thinks, to spread their version of history.

But that was 30 years ago, and the Yellow Cultists are no longer in power, and their big-business allies don’t really care about them and their narrative, and as usual have sought more powerful political patrons. Only ABS-CBN and to some extent the Philippine Daily Inquirer remain, as the latter’s late editor had put it, as the torch-bearers of the People Power Revolution that the media in the 1980s had glorified.


Now, one of the leaders that brought down Marcos, his defense secretary two years before and during the entire martial law period, Juan Ponce Enrile. perhaps wants to put the record straight in his retirement years. In a speech last month at the Methodist Protestants’ Cosmopolitan Church in Manila, Enrile said:

Did Mao (center) and Communist Party chief Sison (right) provoke Marcos to impose martial law?

“The most significant event that made President Marcos decide to declare martial law was the MV Karagatan [ship’s name – RDT] incident in July 1972. It was the turning point. The MV Karagatan involved the infiltration of high powered rifles, ammunition, 40-millimeter rocket launchers, rocket projectiles, communications equipment, and other assorted war materials by the CPP-NPA-NDF on the Pacific side of Isabela in Cagayan Valley. The CPP-NPA-NDF attempted a second effort – their MV Andrea project – but they failed. The MV Andrea sank in the West Philippine Sea on its way to the country.”

Enrile, to the credit of his sharp memory, related many details on the episode, which bolsters his narrative’s veracity, among them: that it was one Lt. Edgar Aglipay (who would become Philippine National Police chief 32 years later) who headed an eight-man police team that intercepted and boarded the MV Karagatan; that an Army platoon headed by one Lt. Arsenio Santos (who would be Enrile’s aide whom Marcos alleged was among the mutineers that plotted a coup against him in February 1986) was dispatched by helicopter to save Aglipay from the superior force of the New People’s Army of 300 men who were tasked to recover the arms; that Air Force fighter planes and even the Presidential Security Command soldiers were deployed to save the Army platoon; that the Liberal Party called the incident a “palabas” with the Lopezes’ Manila Chronicle headlining it as “a hoax”.

Enrile said that after several days, the NPA retreated, with the military recovering 1,000 M14 rifles and 166,000 rounds of bullets and magazines for those arms, and 564 rounds for 40-millimeter rocket launchers.

Perhaps feeling like a statesman, Enrile, however, was totally silent about where the arms shipment came from. It came from China, more precisely its Communist Party intelligence department headed by Kang Sheng, under orders of Mao Zedong himself.

Enrile (in leather jacket) inspecting the crates of Chinese-made M14s captured from the communists’ MV Karagatan.

Former ranking communists Mario Miclat (in his book Secrets of the Eighteen Mansions: A Novel) and Ricardo Malay (in an article on March 25, 2005 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, where he was an editor) had disclosed in the minutest detail how their group, dispatched to China by Sison, organized with Chinese Communist Party intelligence cadres how the arms shipment would be undertaken. That was the era when Mao Zedong didn’t hide from the world his intention to export communist revolution.

Enrile in his speech said:
“The MV Karagatan event affected President Marcos immensely. He wasted no time convening a military conference where he said: “The Karagatan presents a new and serious dimension to the insurgency problem of the country. It means the subversive elements have succeeded to open a supply line to support their operations.”

He asked the command conference to reassess all military plans. Ominously he added: “I will not allow the problem to go out of control. I will nip it in the bud.” I never saw or heard President Marcos talk or act that way before. He was grave, firm, and resolute. On my way out of that command conference, the thought flashed in my mind that martial law was nigh.

True enough, not long after, he convened another command conference. This time, he ordered the preparation of a plan for the declaration of martial law. No one in that command conference asked any questions or raised any objections.”

Martial law was publicly announced September 23, 1972, two months after the Karagatan incident. Perhaps Marcos would have declared it a week after the attempted arms shipment, if he had learned the scale of the Chinese Communist Party’s project to send arms to the NPA.

100,000 Chinese-made rifles
This was inadvertently disclosed only in the past several years by arms traders and enthusiasts who wanted to determine the quality of Chinese rifles, particularly an M14 clone called M305. The M305 was becoming popular in America as a cheap, but reliable rifle, with the Chinese firm Norinco aggressively selling it. Norinco is a huge manufacturing company whose many products include rifles and pistols that it clones known Western products such as the Smith & Wesson and Colt guns, which are also getting to be popular in our country because they cost a third of the American pistols.

As one of the blogs by an arms trader on this matter read:
“In the late 1960s, the Chinese government reverse-engineered the design for the US rifle M14 from weapons captured in Viet Nam. 100,000 M14 rifles and the necessary magazines and ammunition were produced by the Chinese for export, to arm rebels in other countries. These Chinese select fire M14 rifles were made to look just like captured American M14 rifles, including even the serial numbers. The rifles and ammunition were manufactured with US and British markings so as to avoid any connection to the People’s Republic of China, and possibly to serve a role in disinformation (propaganda) campaigns for the planned uprising.

The Communist Chinese government made two attempts to ship its select fire M14 rifles to the Philippines. The first attempt was largely unsuccessful and the second was a total failure. A source was recently shown the remainder of the approximately 100,000 Chinese-manufactured M14 rifles. The Chinese M14 rifles were packed in crates in one warehouse while the British-marked, Chinese-produced 7.62 x 51 mm NATO ammunition was stored in a separate warehouse. “

China had built a factory to produce 100,000 rifles to arm the NPA, which, if it had enough revolutionaries to carry and use them, would have resulted in a bloody civil war in our country. The arms shipment plan was such a huge operation that, ironically, when China embraced capitalism, it jump-started its small-arms industry.

What Enrile did not disclose was that the arms shipments from China made up just one of Sison’s two-pronged plan to foment revolution. Sison in June 1971 confidently told the executive committee of the party central committee, his innermost core of followers, about the arms shipment from China, with Karagatan and Andrea only to be the first, intended to debug the supply line. “But even if we get the rifles, we don’t have enough revolutionaries to carry them,” he said.

“So, we have a plan to trigger another revolutionary flow like the First Quarter Storm,” Sison said. As Miclat related it in his Secrets book, Sison explained what this was: The attack on the Liberal Party miting de avance at Plaza Miranda on August 21, 1971.

Fascist face
Miclat quoted Sison as saying before the attack: “We will force Marcos to declare martial law… People will rise up in arms when he finally shows his fascist face.”

That plan of course didn’t quite work out. Instead of imposing martial law, Marcos simply suspended the writ of habeas corpus after the Plaza Miranda bombing. While that made it easy for government to detain for days suspected subversives, the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality, and Marcos used it only sparingly, arresting less than a dozen suspects, defeating Sison’s expectation that Filipinos would rise up in arms when he “showed his fascist face”.

Instead, what made Marcos decide to declare martial law was Sison and his operatives’ bungling nearly a year later: the interception of the MV Karagatan arms shipment from China.

Enrile ended his speech as follows:
“If President Marcos did not declare martial law, what could or might have happened to the country? I am sure every one of us has an individual opinion about that.”

Good question.

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao

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32 Comments

  1. So how many armed men did the NPA have when Marcos took office? How many when he left? Those 2 numbers tell you what you need to know: Marcos was the best thing that ever happened to the NPA.

    • That is because recruiting NPA members back then was a breeze. Know why? Because people were angry at and thought that the government (Marcos) was the enemy, when it should have been the NPA. Know why people thought so? Because that’s what the media fed them. And guess who owned/owns those media companies?
      There were three players in here, four that are involved: The NPA/Chinese-fed revs that caused deaths/unrests, the Marcos government that tried to suppress these unrests, the Oligarchs who took advantage of that situation, and the civilian people who were lied to.
      That’s what I can see.

  2. I was just a boy when ML was declared. I grew up in Mindanao and have enjoyed the natural bounty
    that it had to offer in the 70’s. ML to me was about discipline, nation building, self-sustenance
    admixed with apprehension, stories of activism, Mao’s red book, and my brother’s incarceration as
    a young activist. Looking back and from the many facts, verifiable information, and historical perspective,
    i would say that FM was correct in proclaiming ML lest the country fall into the hands of the communists and suffer the consequences of what our SEA neighbors went through, Cambodia in particular.
    The only fly in the ointment is the alleged massive looting and human rights violations.
    Our narrative as a nation should be rewritten, if we aspire for reconciliation, justice, transparency, accountability and truth.
    Apparently, opposing groups and adversaries may not agree and the final solution perhaps may not be far behind which is i’m afraid a full blown civil war.
    For how can a leader build a nation if there is a deliberate attempt to destabilize and sabotage his efforts?
    Real enemies will exploit all avenues to destroy PRRD’s image.
    I now have a better appreciation of how and why FM declared ML. PRRD’s threats of the same is understandable if the enemies of the state continue to sow mayhem.

    • Ruben Luma-ang on

      Well said!… and credits to the author for bringing this up… History should be told as it has happened, not according to people who’s clear intent is to sway people into thier thinking… if anyone would observe, and i mean read… as of now, according to sources such as wikipedia, Marcos is nothing but a failure… I just wished truth be told about someone whom had an impact, if not “great” would be rewarded accordingly. Not maligned as a curse to our nations history… It would really help specially of our situation right now with the same likes of having a great leader to be rewarded what is due for him and not lies circulated by leftist who would want to rule this country on thier own benefits and not for the majority..

  3. The Yellows must be banging their heads, “what are we to do with this Tiglao?!” Single-handedly, you are revising history and all they can do is scream “Revisionism!”

  4. Pamela Tuansing on

    Much of the written history of the Philippines is inaccurate, incomplete or both. Imagine history books suggesting that Ninoy Aquino was a hero? This is as fake as the vice presidency of Leni Robredo. Ninoy helped to organize the CPP/NPA and he was in on the bombing of his own party the Liberal party. He exposed to the world the plan of Marcos to recapture Sabah from Malaysia. Ninoy Aquino was nothing but a corrupt, selfish, traitor. Just like his wife and son he did nothing to uplift the living conditions of the people of Tarlac province.

  5. Well done Mr. Tiglao! We need more of this type of articles. It is about time that the real story being told be; little by little. It doesn’t mater who will be affected, but that the real story should be know or written for the next generation.Lets all be one in making PHL a modern, peaceful country like anybody in this world. Perhaps Mr. Sison and the rest of leadership within CPP-NPA-NDF will tell all(truth) of that piece of PHL history.

  6. The ironies in history. but nonetheless Marcos cannot really be fauted. He made the decision in the light of the existing conditions then. A less firm president would not be as decisive. only thing he was devoured by oolitical forces beyond his control. Or he could also be desoerate to hang on to power. whxen you ride a tiger….

  7. Enrile ended his speech as follows:
    “If President Marcos did not declare martial law, what could or might have happened to the country? I am sure every one of us has an individual opinion about that.”

    My opinion; we may not be here rewriting or correcting history! Thanks and Kudos to Mr. TIGLAO for being impartial considering your previous affiliation. More of this please.

  8. Amnata Pundit on

    Ninoy Aquino was convicted and sentenced to death for his role in the armed rebellion of the NPA against the state. The NPA bombed Plaza Miranda, which Ninoy and the opposition blamed on Marcos. Ninoy was the only LP bigwig who was not there, while all the LP presidentiables who were Ninoy’s rivals for the presidential nomination of the LP were almost killed in that attack. Kayo na ang mag 1 + 1.

    • Sinabi na ang kasagutan nito ng isang kasama nila Sison dati na si Guevarra. Ang miting nila Sison at Ninoy ay ginawa sa bahay ng matandang Cojuangco sa Forbes Park. Dito sinabi ni Sison ang plano sa pagpapasbog sa Miting de Avanse ng LP sa Plaza Miranda. Si Ninoy noon ang Secretary General ng LP pero mayroon mga nakatatanda sa kanyang mga beteranong LP katulad ni Sergio Osmena, Jovito Salonga at Gerry Roxas na pare-parehong naghahangad maging Presidential standard bearer ng LP. Itong Ninoy ay hindi makapag antay ng kanyang oras na panahon at masyadong minamadali ang ambisyon niyang maging pangulo kaya nakisama na rin siya sa plano ni Sison. Parang isang bala ng tirador lang ang ginamit ngunit dalawang ibon ang babagsak. Ang pangyayari ay isisisi kay Marcos at baka sakaling madesgrasya pa yon tatlong beteranong kalaban niya sa nomination sa pagka pangulo at siya na lang ang matitira, natural lang n siya na ang hiranging ng LP na kandidato sa pagka pangulo at dahil sa sama ng loob ng mga tao kay Marcos gawa nga ng Plaza Miranda bombing, ang tingin ni NInoy ay kanyng kanya ang siguradong panalo siya pag dating ng Presidential election. Sa sinamang palad, iba pala ang plano ng tadhana sa kanya.

  9. The question is “why only now Sen. Enrile?”
    Does President Ramos being a general during Marcos time knows these events?
    After people’s power (more than 30 years later) the “secret” is open, why?

    After People Power the corruption in the government is everywhere. Why is it that convicted public officials are NOT jailed in the Philippine National Penitentiary. They are criminals and should be treated as such.

    If President Duterte impose Martial Law I will support it it only on the condition that corrupt public officials and justices be detained without hearing/trial.

  10. Mr. Tiglao the veracity of your entire report is exemplary, the cloned Chinese made M14’s are as irrefutable as smoking gun evidence. Their true origin is fully documented and prove the communist armed intervention threat was real forcing Marcos to declare Martial Law. We await with anticipation for a specimen of this curio M14 cloned rifles to one day be featured on popular YouTube webcast “Forgotten Weapons” hosted by firearms expert Ian “Gun Jesus” McCollum.

    A few months ago I reminded Victor Corpus in his column about his role in smuggling the Chinese cloned M14 with brief details of their origin or “provenance” as gun Jesus Ian would say, but not as completely or as eloquently as you Mr. Tiglao, quite commendable work you did.

    Switching to a related topic connected with this, I also recall from some Marcos bios that Enrile as Defense Secretary was very alarmed at the prospect of people rioting for food because of the Great Flood disaster of 1972. Truly the entire Luzon was placed under a state of national calamity when it rained everyday for 40 days due to a bad typhoon season, the extensive impact of the disaster was as much reason for Martial Law as the Communist threat. The militants even adopted weather disaster parlance “First Quarter Storm” to popularize their radical movement at the time. Hope to read more about this in your column one day Mr. Tiglao.

  11. Fidel who got the mv Karagatan is the son of a UP Law classmate of Andy. The classmate is the legal counsel of the local Citibank wherefrom the funds for the boat acquisition may have been sourced. Did Andy gave the funds so that he really was fomenting the atmosphere to justify martial law? Note that Victor was a deep penetration agent of Andy inside the NPA. Was Victor sent to monitor Joma so that Andy investment with the NPA will be put where the funds were intended and with victor there, Andy was actually controlling the NPA? There is no more NPA now but just STG or Sison Terrorist Group.

    There was a bigger endgame and martial law was a camouflage to retrieve all the gold to finance all the plans of Andy for the country. Andy got a big portion of the gold which became the “seed capital” that generated the enormous wealth sitting in all the major banks now. While It may appear that Andy trusted Johnny, the latter was a Cagayanon. Andy still put the more sensitive operations in the hands of Ilocanos. Remember that while he was at the Customs, the old hands there were Ilocanos and Johnny could not do anything against them. As recent history showed, Andy may be right keeping Johnny at arm’s length.

  12. Enough information to shed new light into an important part of our history and open our eyes to consider carefully on whose interests we are falling for.

    We should consider and decide on our own, then if we have enough intellect left, we should know on which side we should be fighting and working for.

    Working for the survival and future of our country, without the simplistic stupid ideologies, free of the old bad pinoy evil traits, help/contribute to become a self sufficient country able to feed and protect its people from slavery, bondage, exploitation and prostitution, chinese invasion might be a worthy goal.

  13. Bull Dung, this US-CIA inspired due to fear of communist expansion. This is the time Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines declared matial law, term Pacification. Watch one netflix movie, story never told..

  14. History as experienced by the people could not be reversed by an erstwhile Marcos man like Enrile. The old missed the train that could have worked for the benefit of the people. The way he did, both as Martial Law minister and, later as Senate member, discredited his trustworthiness in the memory of the people. Marcos, for all his initial intent to “save” the country from the communists, ended saving his skin after turning the country into “the sick man of Asia.” That’s history.

  15. Thank you for that article, Mr. Tiglao and thank you Mr. Enrile for that speech. Actually this is old news. Over the years there have a lot of these stuff coming out through the press but some people did not seem to understand. Personally, I believe if Martial Law was not declared the Philippines would be a communist country by now affected by the “Domino Effect”. The Vietnam War was at it’s height in 1972. All of Southeast Asia was falling into the communist world…Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, etc…etc..Good or not thanks to the USA for being there. Isn’t Pres. Marcos, Sec. of Defense Enrile and Chief of Staff or PC Chief Gen. Ramos the three highest govt. officials during Martial Law? Sadly, Pres. Marcos did not survive it, Ramos became President and Enrile is still with the Senate. Were these two gentlemen loyal to Apo Marcos, or were they traitors to him? Only the three of them know the intimate facts………And Mr. Sison should now come to the Philippine fold and help in nation-building. Communism does not work and will never in the next hundred years. Russia gave up. And China is the number one capitalist now. Thanks to Pres. Nixon, the USA opened up the free world to China in 1975 and look at them now. They became the No. 2 economy in the world next to USA displacing Japan to 3rd place. Communism is very good in theory but it is impossible to implement except by force and terror because you are dealing with humanity that always long for freedom!…….Thank you Sirs, God bless you all!!!

  16. Leodegardo M. Pruna on

    All quiet in the western front. The truth about Martial Law is slowly surfacing. ABS-CBN and the Daily Inquirer would slowly follow in the course of time. These two outfits have placed their cards on the wrong and exploitative side of politics belonging to the yellows and once upon a time led by mother and son. With wealth, they twisted history to suit their own not knowing that history is dynamic and would revert eventually to the truth. Everyone knows why- moncy and power. God bless the Philippines.

    • Not really. He is like me who used to support the armed struggle of Joma Sison only to realize the communism is not what its proponents made us believe it is hoped to be. We learned it the hard way and some former communists like Tiglao and former leftists like me have seen the light. We no longer support communism. But people still believe the propaganda of the yellow cult who joined forces with the reds in the past.

  17. Leland Sacro on

    To the opposition at that time nothing Marcos did was good for the country. It did not matter whether communism was a real threat.

  18. Patrick gonzalez on

    Mr tiglao, anong meron si enrile para maging credible at paniwalaan mo?

    Mr. Tiglao, kung totoo ang sinasabi mo na mv karagatan ang reason for martial law , bakit hangang 1986 si marcos? Bakit madami ang pinapatay na political dissenters?. Bakit walang free press? Bakit may asso? Bakit may behest loans? Bakit nakapag nakaw ang mga marcoses ng walang nag imbestiga? Bakit sarado ang congress?

    Mr tiglao, paki sagot.

    • Dapat bang may press press pag may martial law? Pag may martial law, wala dapat arrest? Ang tingin mo ba sa martial law ay fiesta na dapat masaya at patuloy ang grandstanding at filibustering sa kongreso? Don’t be clouded by your anti-Marcos biases when analyzing history.

    • pablo sanchez on

      hanapin mo sa you tube yung sinabi din ni victor corpusyungtungkol sa mv karagatan para maniwala ka.tsakatry mo manood ng ibang channel hindi puro abs cbn lang channel mo. at ang martial law para sa iyong dagdag kaalaman ay inaproba ng kongreso at senado.

  19. Enrile…You are a true Patriot that you have shown your loyalty to the country, unlike the Aquinos….They are the Traitorsand salot ng Lipunan.Mabuhay ka Manong Johnny.

  20. If Marcos did not declare Martial law. I am now NPA general imposing my will with care for anyone. Pregnant or virgin doesn’t matter. But Marcos declared Martial law so i become lowly Marcos foot soldier whacking rebels for the sake of power to whack at will. Communist or Martial law, all I care in young and restless days was power in my hand….. Enrile also turned to rebellion for the sake of power grab. Power is what matters but I learned money is power too so I end up OFW at mellow years.

  21. Perhaps the most intriguing question Enrile should have asked at the end of his speech is: “If an ‘Aquino’ and not ‘Marcos’ was the President, what could or might have happened to the country?”

  22. The relatives of the oligarchs, the Lopezes, Cojuangco-Aquinos, et al who were against Marcos must have been cringing by this big revelation. the relatives themselves must have been embarrassed of what their oligarch kin did against the government.

    i thought that the arms shipment of that failed MV Karagatan was just several thousands only, and not as huge as 100,000 firearms. imagine if that shipment was successful, there would be 100,000 communist rebels fighting against the 48,000 Philippine soldiers (as revealed by Enrile in a past interview). and the enemies of Marcos are still wondering why he had to declare Martial Law.

    Marcos, a patriot, became a villain in the eyes of the yellow cult and propaganda-deceived Filipinos.

    • Elisa A. Sipin on

      Marcos, a patriot who survived the Bataan Death March of.World War Ii is a Real Hero who fought for his country and as revelations now show that as President, he prevented the country into turning Communist by declaring Martial Law with the approval of Congress! He then rightly deservrs to be buried and rest among his fellow patriots in the LIBINGAN ng MGA BAYAN, one of whom is my brother, Demetrio Edralin Abad who fought in Bataan, survived the Death March and died at the concentration camp in Capas, Tarlac.