Everyday History
Photo of the Enrile ambush at Wack-Wack village.
Daily History Marcos Administration Martial Law Philippine History

Enrile ambush was staged: Sept. 22, 1972

On this day in 1972, at around 8 p.m., several unidentified assailants ambushed Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile at Wack-Wack Village, Mandaluyong. He had just left Camp Aguinaldo and was on his way home to Dasmariñas Village in Makati when the ambush happened.

Several eyewitnesses such as Wack-Wack village resident Oscar Lopez, Lopez’s driver, former Marcos propagandist Primitivo Mijares, and Enrile himself later revealed that the ambush was staged as a pretext for President Ferdinand Marcos’ imposition of Martial Law throughout the country.

In Lopez’ account of the event, he stated that he had heard a lot of shooting on the night of the incident. When he went outside, he saw only an empty car riddled with bullets. Lopez’ driver who witnessed the event stated that “there was a car that came and stopped beside a MERALCO post. Some people exited the car, and another car came by to shoot at the car, to make it look like it was ambushed.”

Enrile revealed that the ambush was staged during a press conference held when he and Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief-of-Staff Fidel Ramos defected from the government on Feb. 23, 1986 in coup attempt which led to the EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos.

Nevertheless, Marcos, in his diary entry for Sept. 22, 1972, wrote, “Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed near Wack-Wack at about 8:00 p.m. It was a good thing he was riding in his security car as a protective measure… This makes the martial law proclamation a necessity.”

Enrile was one of Marcos’ close confidants and proteges. As early as December 1969, Marcos gave Enrile the task of studying the 1935 Constitution to explore justifications for declaring Martial Law throughout the country and its ramifications. By January 1970, Enrile, with the assistance Efren Plana and Minerva Gonzaga Reyes, gave Marcos a report detailing the nature and extent of Martial Law and its potential implications.


Enrile, Juan Ponce. Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir. Quezon City: ABS-CBN Publishing Inc. 2012. pp. 275-276.

Mijares, Primitivo. The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. New York: Union Square Publications. 1986. p. 166

Rodrigo, Raul. Phoenix: The Saga of the Lopez Family Volume 1: 1800 – 1972. Manila: Eugenio Lopez Foundation, Inc., 2000.

Lopez, Oscar. “Oscar Lopez’s speech at Enrile book launch.” ABS-CBN News. September 27, 2012.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office. “Special Feature: Declaration of Martial Law. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.

Trivia question:

According to Enrile’s 2012 memoir, what did the would-be dictator say when he reported the ambush to the President in Malacañang?

Yesteray’s answer: Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor and Maj. Jose Almonte

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