By Val Villanueva
[NOTE: I have asked Val’s permission to repost this on my blog. I know Val. We once worked together in Philippine Star – he as assistant business editor and me as investigative reporter (reporting directly to the late Betty Go-Belmonte). I did not know until recently that Val had married one of my schoolmates, Millette Barin. I salute Val for coming out with this post, which I know will earn him a lot of flak.]
It’s no secret that I’ve been one of Enrile’s backroom boys in his 1992 presidential bid. Along with Teddyboy Locsin, Kit Tatad, Yen Macabenta and Roly Eclevia, we formulated his campaign strategy with cohesion and precision.
I was recruited by his then trusted finance manager, Nora Bitong, who was then responsible for multiplying his millions. Nora arranged for me a one-on-one dinner with Enrile at her posh Dasmariñas Village home for me to get to know him better.
Nora knew that I was a Martial Law victim and the dinner was meant to ‘set the record’ straight. “You can ask him anything, no holds barred,” she told me. I was the Business Editor of the then Gokongwei-owned Manila Times and Nora told me Enrile was impressed by my business insights, “he reads you, and we need your kind of writing to amplify his business policies to the electorate.”
Our discussion centered on Enrile’s role in Martial Law. He confirmed to me that that there was a fake attempt to kill him by an ambush (one of the reasons for ML declaration), that Cory was the real winner in the Feb., 1986 presidential snap elections, that there was massive cheating in almost all areas that was perpetuated by Marcos forces in that exercise and that he recognized Cory as the duly-elected president. He also said he was humbled by Cory’s decision not to seek re-election and he ate humble pie when he wrongly wagered that Cory would cling to power. I resigned from the Times. I was convinced or should I say now, I was taken for a ride.
The team had tried to project him as a statesman. When we realized that it was impossible for him to win the election, we advised him to back out of the race which he did. Candidates of the opposition slate – Imelda Marcos, Danding Cojuangco and himself would divide the votes among themselves and there was no way that one of them would win.
No doubt that Enrile was an excellent boss. We maintained our correspondence long after that professional engagement I had with him.
But hearing him now makes me cringe. Now, it’s my time to set the record straight.