Oplan Sagittarius is the Master Plan of a multi-faceted operation for the declaration of martial law: the apparatus, the scheme, the mechanism of martial law itself. Sagittarius also provided the legal basis for Proclamation 1081 by enumerating the conditions and situations that made martial law necessary. It contained the detailed account of the places targeted for a military take-over (such as airports, shipping ports, communication networks, transportation networks, the mass media, the guns and ammunition, the loose firearms of the citizenry…) [and it] also named special units that were to implement the initial takeover, with the backing of the entire armed forces in the Philippines, if ever the need arose.1
In the Senate, using information leaked to him by friends of friends in the military, Senator Benigno S. Aquino revealed the existence of “Oplan Sagittarius.” During a September 13, 1972 privilege speech in the Senate floor, thus exposed what was known as “Operation Sagittarius”. The Senator said he had received a top-secret military plan given by Marcos himself to place Metro Manila and outlying areas under the control of the Philippine Constabulary as a prelude to Martial Law. Marcos was going to use the bombings, which includes the Plaza Miranda Bombing, in Metro Manila as a justification for his takeover and subsequent authoritarian rule.2
It was alleged that a plan of action had existed as early as 1965. Even with Aquino’s revelation, no one opposed the plan because no one was certain that the plan would be carried out. As for identifying the person who leaked the plan, Primitivo Mijares gave a hint. He said that when the plan for imposing martial law was finalized, he distributed copies to various high-ranking officials in the military and the intelligence network. The names of the recipients of the distributed copies were zodiac signs corresponding to the first letter or initial of the surname of the person who received the plan. The copy code “Sagittarius” went to General Marcos Soliman; thus, when the plan did not know of the existence of “Oplan Sagittarius.” They knew of a plan with a different zodiac name.Marcos had carefully planned the project so that if someone turned on him, he would be able to take immediate action.3
Excerpts from the book “The Conjugal Dictatorship” by Primitivo Mijares4
“One of the best kept secrets of the martial law planning of Marcos was that, when he had finalized the plan and he had come to a decision to impose it, he distributed the copies of the plan in sealed envelopes to the military officials and leaders of the intelligence community. He took great care and caution to assign different Zodiac code-names to the copies he handed out to the would-be martial law enforcers. The first letter of each code-name corresponded to the first letter of the surname of the recipient. The copy that code-named “Sagittarius” went to Gen. Marcos Soliman, a Pampango who was the chief of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA). It was so easy and convenient then to pinpoint Soliman as the source of Aquino. Thus, ranking officers of the armed forces did not have to commit mental dishonesty when they denied the existence of “Oplan Sagittarius.” They were not aware of any game plan by that code-name. However, they did acknowledge to newsmen that the contingency plan was the martial law plan itself.
There was a tragic postscript to the leakage of Soliman’s copy to Aquino. A few days after the declaration of martial law, Soliman, a relative of Mayor Villegas, was reported in the press to have died of a heart attack. The truth is that he was shot dead by Metrocom troopers personally dispatched by President Marcos to arrest and detain him at Camp Crame for “tactical interrogation” for the leakage of “Oplan Sagittarius.” The general public noted, however, that the President did not issue a message of condolence to the general’s family. Last honors due a departed general denied Soliman by the armed forces; the Manila police department, which Soliman headed for some time during the incumbency of President Macapagal, was not allowed to render him honors.”
This was how Oplan Sagittarius came known to be as the Master Plan for the implementation of Martial Law (Proclamation 1081) in the Republic of the Philippines under the Marcos Regime.
1Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism by Albert F. Celoza page 31-32 – http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=Sp3U1oCNKlgC&pg=PA31&lpg=PA31&dq=oplan+sagittarius&source=bl&ots=wNV-IlHEL7&sig=OxC_owirQXDo4KAqMQeiV1Jecfk&hl=tl&sa=X&ei=CwquT4TKHuiHmQXiq-mKCQ&sqi=2&ved=0CHQQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=oplan%20sagittarius&f=false
2 Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines – http://www.gov.ph/featured/declaration-of-martial-law/
3 Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism by Albert F. Celoza page 31-32 – http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=Sp3U1oCNKlgC&pg=PA31&lpg=PA31&dq=oplan+sagittarius&source=bl&ots=wNV-IlHEL7&sig=OxC_owirQXDo4KAqMQeiV1Jecfk&hl=tl&sa=X&ei=CwquT4TKHuiHmQXiq-mKCQ&sqi=2&ved=0CHQQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=oplan%20sagittarius&f=false
4 The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos by Primitivo Mijares – page 143
5 Autobiography of Gen. Marcos Soliman – http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~camiling/bio/solimanm.htm