MANILA (UPDATED) - Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday morning posted a cryptic message outlining his "unsolicited friendly warning," as he likened the country's situation now to martial law before it was declared in 1972.
Enrile, who was defense minister during martial law before launching a coup to end the Marcos regime, wrote the message a day after Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, announced his 2022 presidential bid.
Enrile claimed there are some "vested interests" who are prepared to take advantage of the division among Filipinos as the election season intensifies.
Vote-buying and the proliferation of fake news are expected to worsen in the 2022 national and local elections against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, a political science expert said earlier this year.
"I hope my friends are aware that there are vested interests ready to fan the fire to gain tremendous advantage and benefit from an escalation of the discord," the 97-year-old Enrile said.
"It seems to me that the national political situation in the country is nearly like to what happened before President Marcos declared Martial Law 49 years ago in 1972."
He said the welfare of the public should be prioritized above all else, as they are "helpless, innocent pawns at the center of the looming power confrontation."
He did not elaborate.
"I hope you, my friends, use your brilliant minds to analyze the political situation and avoid the eruption of an unintended and unwanted civil strife in the land. Remember the situation is not to be taken lightly," Enrile claimed.
"Once it is launched, there is no turning back."
Enrile also did not mention what was going to be "launched."
Marcos had justified imposing martial law due to increasing lawlessness, fueled by alleged communist attacks.
Before this, the campaign rally of the Liberal Party at Plaza Miranda in front of Quiapo Church on Aug. 21, 1971 was bombed, killing 9 and injuring 95 others. Marcos also used this as a justification for martial rule.
"Marcos was going to use a series of bombings in Metro Manila... as a justification for his takeover and subsequent authoritarian rule," an entry from the Official Gazette reads.
On Tuesday, the younger Marcos said he wanted to bring back "unifying leadership" as the country faced the COVID-19 crisis, which he dubbed "one of the greatest tests in its history."
Marcos and his family has been trying to rebuild its image, which was tainted by human rights violations and corruption during the Marcos dictatorship.
The government has recovered P174 billion so far in Marcos ill-gotten wealth, according to the Presidential Commission on Good Government.
— with a report from Agence France-Presse