Rise of a Dictator (Part V)

Filed under: , , , by: Ron Centeno

The conjugal partnership between the Marcoses was long and enduring. And because power is intoxicating, the line of succession had been drawn to secure their permanent grip to it. Like any known dictatorship, however, conspiracy from among those within the regime would soon be institutionalized.

In 1975, three years after martial law was declared, the struggle for power began to take form between Imelda Marcos and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile.

By the look of it, Imelda’s “frivolous lifestyle and shallow preoccupation with celebrities” made her pale in comparison with Enrile’s massive academic and corporate credentials.

Juan Ponce Enrile was born in the town of Gonzaga, Cagayan Province, on Valentine’s Day, 1924. Because he was illegitimate, he was baptized Juanito Furruganan by his mother, Petra Furruganan, a peasant woman. Failed to be acknowledged by his father, he grew up poor. Early on, he showed academic acuity and wanted to be a scientist.

At 19, he wanted to confront his father, Alfonso Ponce Enrile, one of Manila’s leading corporate lawyers, a partner in the law firm of DeWitt, Perkins, & Enrile, which handled the affairs of General MacArthur and leading firms such as Benguet Mines.

Juanito Furruganan became Juan Ponce Enrile when Don Alfonso decided to recognize his son. He attended the Jesuit-run Ateneo, graduated at the top of his class in law at the University of the Philippines in 1953, and took master’s in law at Harvard in 1955.

In 1964, Juan Ponce Enrile was recruited by Marcos to handle his personal legal affairs. When Marcos was elected president, he named Enrile to a list of posts, including the minister of defense. Following his set-up assassination which he eventually admitted as hoax, became a final excuse for martial law. To those in the know, Enrile was considered to be the real architect of Marcos’s P.D. 1081, otherwise known as the martial law.

In order for Marcos to level up Imelda with Enrile, he appointed his wife governor of the Metro Manila as a crash-course in administrative leadership for future presidential bid in the event of her husband’s death. One senior military figure was, however, seen on the sideline that was headed to plot the exclusion of Imelda’s ascent to throne in the post-Marcos government. His name is Lieutenant General Fidel Ramos, vice chief-of-staff of the armed forces.

Fidel Ramos was the son of Narciso Ramos, Marcos’s uncle. Marcos was a graduate of West Point, who went to earn a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, then served in the Korean and Vietnam wars as a young officer. Ramos was known to live modestly (said to be one of the few senior officers who were totally clean) and was highly respected because of his self-restraint. Moreover, Ramos was not normally aggressive, lacked charisma, and was not forceful as he might be. And when Marcos was confronted with a question of who would become the next chief-of-staff, General Fabian Ver had all the trimmings of becoming one.

In the hindsight, the characters who played the roles in the 1986 people power revolt, Enrile and Ramos were on the one side of the equation while the Marcoses and Ver were on the other.



The Marcos Dynasty. 1988. Sterling Seagrave. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 10 E 53rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10022


On March 8, 2009 at 7:41 PM , Dr. Lauren said...

Wow, this was very fascinating, and I'm not familiar with the subject, so thanks for the history lesson.

On March 9, 2009 at 1:12 PM , Ron Centeno said...

Thanks you for visiting and reading Dr. Lauren.

On March 9, 2009 at 8:35 PM , Lisa said...

What's odd is that I can't read about Imelda Marcos without being reminded of the one important detail that the media seemed to go nuts about at the time, that being her obsession with shoes.

On March 10, 2009 at 4:45 AM , Roy said...


Never knew of all this... you're too young to know this, you're one heck of a resourceful person!

not I have to backread ;)

On March 10, 2009 at 1:58 PM , shydub said...

So nice to know some of our history here in your blog which we never learned at school. I read a little about this when I was teaching 6th grade but I didn't like teaching it though, because only less information I gotlol. Do you plan of being in a politics someday?You are are very resourceful and knowlegeable about this kind of stuff

On March 12, 2009 at 6:20 AM , Dina said...

What's up 3M just checking on your Marcos updates.

On March 12, 2009 at 7:52 AM , HalfCrazy said...

Very good, I love it, looking forward to more of your posts and more of the history behind it. My school term just finished, I took Philippine POlitics and Governance class so I became kinda interested with issues, the constitution and the works. And I actually learned to care for our country than ever before. So it's interesting to know all these.

Isn't General Fabian Ver the one who wanted to wreak havoc during the People Power Revolution? Like he was the one who wants to run down the people and shoot them tanks? Or my memory is failing me?

On March 12, 2009 at 7:53 AM , HalfCrazy said...

I mean order the tanks to shoot lol.

On November 16, 2009 at 5:57 PM , Anonymous said...


On November 20, 2009 at 9:33 PM , prashant said...

I'm not familiar with the subject, so thanks for the history lesson.

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