Enrile admits military abuse, arrests under martial law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — Martial law architect Juan Ponce Enrile admitted that there were arrests and abuses under the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos' regime on Monday.

"There were arrests... There were abuses, just like abuses in other countries if you're conducting a counter-insurgency or law enforcement. You cannot control all the people under you," Enrile told CNN Philippines' The Source.

He even added, "I was the one who signed the arrest warrants."

The statement goes against Enrile's earlier remarks in a video with Marcos' son and former senator Bongbong Marcos. He challenged his critics then to name people who were unlawfully arrested during martial law, prompting martial law survivors like Nene Pimentel and Etta Rosales to speak up. Enrile now denies he made the comment at all.

"I did not say that. What I said was that we never adopted a policy to kill people with impunity," Enrile said.

Enrile claimed anyone who was arrested was only "inconvenienced for a while," one of at least eight false claims made in the video about the Marcos regime.

RELATED: 8 things Juan Ponce Enrile, Bongbong Marcos got wrong about martial law

The then-defense minister later turned on the Marcos regime, throwing his support behind late opposition senator Ninoy Aquino's widow Cory in the 1986 People Power Revolution. At the time, he attributed the turnaround to a discrepancy in the snap elections, in which Marcos declared victory.

"I know it is for a fact, that there had been some anomalies committed during the [snap] elections," Enrile said, according to a 1986 press conference transcript. "I search my conscience; and I felt that I could not serve a government that is not expressive of the sovereign will."

However, Enrile now claims that it was because of a rising military junta that he made the move — not because he was out to double-cross Marcos.

"I was the target of assassination," Enrile told The Source. "I knew there was a junta that was already established. I do not know whether President Marcos knew about that."

However, when asked whether he stood by whether Marcos cheated in the snap elections, he did not respond.

"In my own area of Cagayan Valley, Pres. Marcos asked me if the canvas was already over. And I said yes. But somehow, they wanted to review the canvas," Enrile recalled.

When asked why, he answered, "I don't know, I cannot surmise."

Enrile went on to say that he was "not disputing" the story of martial law victims — but he also accused them of orchestrating the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing, which left nine people dead.

"I'm sorry that some of them got hurt, but they started it," said Enrile. "They wanted to topple the government installed by the people, elected by the people, installed by the Constitution."

In his video with the younger Marcos, Enrile claimed there was a "working coalition" between opposition lawmakers in the Liberal Party and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Enrile's critics said he was being self-contradictory, and they would not bomb their own gathering if the allegations of a coalition were true.

The 94-year-old former senator also said he was sorry if he had hurt anyone in the past.

"Well I'm sorry if I hurt people. I never intended to hurt people. But that is what I know," he said. "If they can provide me with contradictory proof that I was wrong, I will accept [it]."