Wake Up, Philippines!

Enrile explains hurt over EDSA I rites

Posted in Edsa, People Power, Politics by Erineus on February 24, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—Twenty-three years after the 1986 People Power Revolution, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Sunday gave those who cared to listen a peek at what had been hurting him, why he had been snubbing official celebrations of the historic uprising.

The anniversary of EDSA I is officially observed every Feb. 25, the day the dictator Ferdinand Marcos fled Malacañang and Corazon “Cory” Aquino was sworn in as President.

But Enrile, the defense minister of Marcos, and members of the Reform the AFP Movement, which was renamed Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM)—the once shadowy unit that sparked the revolt—have stayed away from those festivities.

Instead, they have been quietly commemorating EDSA I on Feb. 22, the day they withdrew their support from the Marcos regime.

But that may be changing. Malacañang officials said Enrile was expected to be at Wednesday’s official commemoration rites at the EDSA Shrine in Quezon City marking the 23rd anniversary of the four-day revolt.

Sounding humble and mellowed when he spoke at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) on Sunday, Enrile said that Feb. 25 “deserves the nation’s remembrance.”

He also noted that the previous Feb. 25 festivities had seemingly “glossed over” the role of the soldiers at EDSA I.

“I have long nursed a certain discomfiture at being paraded as an EDSA hero, while those who bravely dared to fight the hard battle with us seemed to have been forgotten, their idealism ignored, and even their heroic contribution belittled,” Enrile said.

He said the political landscape today would have been different “if not for the courage and the commitment of men behind RAM, like Col. Tirso Gador, who gambled their lives to redeem the freedom of our countrymen.”

Final judge

History would be the final judge, Enrile said.

“To recall what transpired since Feb. 22, 1986, to put the blame where the blame lies, and to place credit where much credit has not been acknowledged, will simply make one a sour grape,” he said.

“Whatever pain I went through, whatever form of prejudice and injustice I may have been a victim (of), is best left in my heart and for history to judge beyond my time,” he said.

“But this I need to say: Those soldiers who were really with us in EDSA never asked for any reward, recognition, much less power. All they asked from the new leaders then was real reform and good government.”

Enrile said Feb. 22, 1986, was “a day for difficult decisions to be made and for personal sacrifices to be offered for the greater good.”

Plot uncovered

Early that morning, Enrile said he went to the Atrium building in Makati City with his daughter Katrina, primarily to rebut a newspaper headline that he had left the country with his family.

At the Atrium, Enrile received a call from then Finance Minister Bobby Ongpin whose security men—all members of the RAM—were being arrested.

Enrile said his military aide, then Capt. Noe Wong, also arrived with the chilling information that the RAM plot to oust Marcos had been discovered.

Wong also told him that RAM members Allen Querubin, Lt. Col. Marcelino “Jake” Malajacan, Maj. Saulito “Lito” Aromin, Capt. Ricardo “Dick” Morales and two others had been arrested and detained at the Presidential Security Command in Malacañang.

“I fully grasped the significance of the unfolding event. And so I went home hurriedly with my daughter to take my lunch,” Enrile recalled.

2 options

After lunch, Wong arrived with Colonels Gregorio Honasan and Red Kapunan. “They informed me that all RAM and political opposition leaders would be arrested and detained at the Caraballo Island,” Enrile said.

He said Honasan, who was his chief for security, offered two options: Launch a guerrilla war in the countryside or take a stand in the city.

Enrile said he opted to take a stand at the Department of National Defense building in Camp Aguinaldo.

“Before I left my house, I asked Cristina, my wife, to inform the late Jaime Cardinal Sin what I was about to do.”

Enrile also made a call to then Constabulary chief Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos. “I asked him if he could join us. He said he would.”

From the DND building, Enrile said he called US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, Japanese Ambassador Kiyoshi Sumiya and Rafael Salas, the Filipino executive director of the United Nations Population Fund.

Calls from Sin, Cory

At about 3:30 p.m., Enrile gave an interview over Radio Veritas to confirm reports that he was abandoning the Marcos regime.

He also informed Brig. Gen. Pedro Balbanero, head of the Military Police, about his plan. Then Postmaster General Roilo Golez, Brig. Gen. Ramon Farolan, former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Espino and Col. Rolando Abadilla also came to see him.

A little after 4 o’clock, Enrile received a call from Sin.

“He asked me the same thing as the others did. I gave him the same story. He said, ‘I will pray for you,’” Enrile said.

An hour later, Enrile received a call from Cory Aquino from Cebu. “She asked me if what she heard was true … I said, ‘Yes, Madam,’” Enrile said.

Finally, sleep comes

Abadilla returned with a message to Enrile that Gen. Fabian Ver, the AFP chief of staff, wanted to talk to him.

“General Ver asked me why I was withdrawing my support for the President. I told him it was too late to discuss the matter. He asked me if we could talk. I said yes, but not on that night … (but) the following morning, I was stalling to gain time for the remaining RAM men to reach the city,” Enrile said.

“After all these were done, I attended to the throng of visitors flooding my room in Camp Aguinaldo. Thereafter, I went to sleep.”

About 72 hours later, Marcos, bereft of all power, was on his way to Hawaii (where he died several years later)—and Cory Aquino on her way to Malacañang.

February 23, 2009 02:13:00
Fe Zamora
Philippine Daily Inquirer


The day Cory called the shots at Edsa

Posted in Edsa, Edsa Revolution, People Power, Politics by Erineus on February 24, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—It was a wheel within a wheel, a crucial pivot within the larger hinge of Philippine history that was Edsa 1.

The decision of Corazon Aquino to address the crowds on Edsa and expose herself to possible assassins, instead of waiting it out in safety until victory was complete, is a barely acknowledged ”turning point” in the People Power Revolution of 1986.

This was according to a member of her inner circle and eyewitness to Aquino’s course of action—much of it happening away from press coverage—during the tense four-day standoff between military defectors and loyalist troops of strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Then human rights lawyer, Aquino election campaign leader, and now Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay was referring to Aquino’s brief remarks delivered at the lobby of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) building on Edsa corner Ortigas Avenue.

Aquino then showed up on a makeshift stage at the POEA at around 4:30 p.m. of Feb. 24, Day 3 of the revolt. The talk was over in minutes, but for Binay and the others privy to the events leading to that brief exposure, it was enough to send a powerful message.

Asserting her leadership

“That was a turn in history. That was Cory asserting her leadership,” Binay said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday.

To explain why there was a need for her to make that “assertion,” Binay had to retrace the earlier events of the day.

Since the standoff began, he and fellow human rights lawyer Joker Arroyo were already leading Aquino forces in their Edsa vigil, but that particular morning of Feb. 24 they were inside one of the buildings in Camp Crame for a “meeting” with the rebel forces.

(Binay vividly remembered that it was the same morning an Air Force helicopter wing led by Col. Antonio Sotelo defected from Marcos and landed at Camp Crame to join the rebels.)

Out of the loop

“Joker was in the [meeting] room and I was waiting outside talking to [folk singer and anti-Marcos activist] Freddie Aguilar,” he recalled. “When Joker finally came out, he told me: ‘Mukhang malayo na tayo rito. Mukhang malayo na rin si Cory (We seem to be out of the loop already. So is Cory).”’

“Ang nagmamando na sina Ramos, kasi wala si Cory dito physically (It’s Fidel Ramos and company calling the shots because Cory is not here physically). They were calling the [foreign] embassies, the press; they were calling the shots,” Binay recalled Joker telling him.

Leaving the camp, the two lawyers walked all the way to a colleague’s house on Horseshoe Drive in Quezon City and from there, contacted Aquino by phone. The day before (Feb. 23), Aquino had quietly returned from Cebu and was staying at a sister’s house in Wack Wack subdivision in Mandaluyong.

Coming out

By 10 a.m. that morning, Arroyo, Binay, other key Aquino supporters were gathered for a meeting at Greenhills, San Juan. Aquino was personally briefed by Joker about his earlier meeting in Camp Crame and about his sense of alarm over who’s “calling the shots,” Binay said.

“The long and short of it is that Cory told us: “Lalabas tayo (We’re coming out),” Binay told the Inquirer.

But someone butted in: “Cory, panalo na tayo. Baka madisgrasya ka pa (We’ve already won. You might only put yourself in danger).”

Aquino’s stand

Aquino then replied, as Binay put it: “Akala ko ba ang usapan natin dito ay kung kailangan magbuwis ng buhay, magbuwis ng buhay? Bakit naman nag-iiba na tayo (I thought it was agreed that we would sacrifice our lives if we need to? Why the change)?”

The duly elected President of the February 1986 snap elections had given her stand, and “nobody dared to disagree with her (wala nang kumontra),” Binay said.

Aquino then asked his younger brother Jose “Peping” Cojuangco—who in that meeting affectionately addressed her as “Ate (elder sister)”—to look for a spot on Edsa where she could address the crowd.

Coverage against snipers

Why was the POEA building chosen? For one, its lobby allowed a wide view of the spectators but still provided ample overhead coverage against “snipers,” Binay explained.

Asked how Edsa I would have turned out had Aquino not “come out” that day, Binay said the initial sense of his group was that a “troika” or a “collective leadership”—rather than the Aquino presidency as Filipinos now know it—could have risen to power.

The following day, Feb. 25, at 10:45 a.m., Corazon Aquino took her oath as President at Club Filipino.

Last-minute glitch

But Binay recalled that even that climactic moment of Edsa I encountered a last-minute glitch—though not because of factors traceable to the renegade military machinery holding fort at Camp Crame.

It was because of a breakdown of another piece of machinery: the vehicle that was supposed to take Aquino from Wack Wack to Club Filipino that morning simply wouldn’t start and had to be fixed first, delaying the oath-taking ceremony by about half-an-hour, Binay said, smiling.

February 22, 2009 04:18:00
Volt Contreras
Philippine Daily Inquirer


Arroyo hit over ‘self-serving’ statement

Posted in Edsa, People Power, Politics, Uncategorized by Erineus on February 24, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s statement about how the world does not need another EDSA is “self-serving” and that Filipinos will always have a reason for a popular revolt for as long as she stays in power, her critics in and our of government said Monday.

Arroyo was quoted as saying that the world would not forgive another EDSA revolution because it would show the Philippines as being politically unstable.

The first EDSA revolution was in Feb. 25, 1986, three years after former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was assassinated at the then Manila International Airport and his widow, Corazon, led the military-backed popular uprising that toppled 20-year dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The second was in January 2001 when then president Joseph Estrada, after a three-year stay in office, was ousted by another military-backed and bloodless uprising that installed Arroyo, then vice president, in power.

“That’s a self-serving statement when in fact the world at that time honored us. She [Arroyo] is the one who besmirched EDSA,” said Leah Navarro, a convenor of the Black and White movement.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said Arroyo’s statement would only show that she was an ingrate.

“After benefiting from people power, she now condemns it as a political aberration. She has in fact attempted to quash it every chance she gets. Such an insecure president,” said Reyes, referring to several protests that called for Arroyo’s resignation.

Navarro said Arroyo’s “holiday economics” or order to move the holiday from Wednesday to Monday was also not good because it did not show the true meaning of EDSA.

“I wish they would have thought of something else…who is she trying to avoid?” said Navarro. She added that Arroyo also never paid attention to the EDSA 2 anniversary last January.

Bayan Muna partylist Representative Teodoro Casiño said in a text message said people power was an “antidote to corrupt leaders like her who undermine democracy, violate human rights, and abuse state power. No wonder she is so paranoid.”

Casiño said that contrary to the President’s statements, the world would be more unforgiving if the Filipinos abandon people power and allow the rule of another tyrant.

Another partylist lawmaker, Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, said “Filipinos will always have just reasons to protest and oppose Arroyo’s brand of corrupt and repressive leadership.”

“What would be highly unacceptable to the people all over the world is another Gloria. It is Ms Arroyo who never learned from the lessons of people power,” Mariano said, stressing that “the political and economic bases for another people’s uprising exist.”

“Ms Arroyo’s perpetuation of unabated and large-scale corruption, gross human rights violations, desperate clinging to power to the extent of declaring a state of emergency in 2006 and the planned Charter change, and subservience to US dictates fuels people’s resistance and highly condemnable to the world’s people,” Mariano said.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Aquino will not participate in any activity to commemorate the people power revolution because she will undergo chemotherapy this week for her colon cancer, according to her spokesperson Deedee Sytangco.

Navarro said there were would be no rallies because they were also considering the current financial crisis.

Speaking Sunday at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Taguig City to mark the start of a four-day commemoration of the 1986 People Power Revolution that toppled the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Arroyo said that another upheaval would earn “condemnation” from the rest of the world.

“The world embraced EDSA I in 1986. The world tolerated EDSA II in 2001. The world will not forgive an EDSA III, but it will instead condemn the Philippines as a country whose political system is hopelessly unstable,” she said.

By Thea Alberto, Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 13:03:00 02/23/2009