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During the latter years of his second elected term, Marcos conspired with various leaders of the military and Philippine Constabulary. The goal was for Marcos to gain full authoritarian control of the country during his declaration of martial law in 1972. Marcos gave the military leadership powers during martial law, taking over from democratically elected officials and court judges.
The twelve were responsible for many human rights atrocities, although the extent of their responsibility is still being investigated. These atrocities include torture, murder, seizures of property, displacement from homes, and arrest and detention without due process.
The origin of the name Rolex 12 came from a widespread story and some sources that each associate received a Rolex watch from Marcos himself, although this remains unverified. Some contend that the gifts were actually Omega watches, but despite this confusion, the name Rolex 12 stuck and is still used to refer to these twelve Marcos associates. Some of them fled with Marcos when he and his family left the Philippines in 1986, while others like Enrile and Ramos were instrumental in the coup against him.
Members of the "Rolex 12"
- Tomas Diaz, PMA-Cl '51 - Vice Chief of the Philippine Constabulary
- Juan Ponce Enrile - Minister of National Defense
- Romeo Espino UP-ROTC - Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
- Romeo Gatan - Chief of the Philippine Constabulary in Rizal Province
- Alfredo Montoya, PMA Cl-'51 -Chief of the Philippine Constabulary Metropolitan Command (METROCOM)
- Ignacio Paz, PMA Cl-'51 - Chief of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP)
- Fidel Ramos, USMA Cl-'50; Honorary PMA Cl-51 -Chief of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), future President (1992–1998)
- Jose Rancudo - Chief of the Philippine Air Force (PAF)
- Hilario Ruiz -Chief of the Philippine Navy (PN)
- Rafael Zagala -Chief of the Philippine Army (PA)
- Fabian Ver, Honorary-PMA Cl '51 - Chief of National Intelligence Security Authority (NISA) 
- Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, Jr., Honorary PMA Cl-'51 - present Chairman of San Miguel Corporation.
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