INTERNATIONAL                              AFFAIRS                                                 .i i                   ...
Y;{:,:it-                                                                                                                 ...
-TET-l-i:l;r-                                             INTERNATIONAL                                  AFFAIRSI         ...
INTERNATIONAL                                   AFFAIRS                                                         idown.    ...
INTERNATIONAL                                 AFFAIRSprinted were not enough for "an endless    fire at their fellow men, ...
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Why people came to EDSA in 1986 to save Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos from getting killed


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Four days that ended an era from my personal archives - article from asiaweek, march 9, 1986

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Why people came to EDSA in 1986 to save Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos from getting killed

  1. 1. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS .i i ilt:iliTroops loyal to Ramos keeping vigil at Camp Aguinaldo: "Join us in this crusade for better government"REVOLTSFour Days that Ended an Era Throughout the as- the details of that afternoon to Asiaweek. reform-minded officers in the "We Be- tonishing four doys "So I called my office. [Ongpins guards] long" movement. that led to the down- had been found in a restricted marine Enrile had to move fast. He was him- fall of Ferdinand Mar- brigade area with firearms and were ar- self a principal instigator of the move- cos and the accession rested." But by quizzing his intelligence ment. He returned to his luxurious home of Corazon Aquino, men, Enrile also learned that the swoop nearby, where soon afterwards his own Asiaweek Correspon- had been staged to provide phoney evi- security officers arrived in something of a dents Antonio Lopez, dence of a coup and justify the arrest of fluster. "Were getting constant inforrrra-Lisa Beyer and Luningning Salazar kept up tion that theres an order to round up all24-hour coverage of the fasl-breaking Preparing to attack Crame: No go members of the movement," said Col.evenls. Their report: Gregorio ("Gringo") Honasan. Enrile put on a bullet-proof assessed the odds, The Atrium is a fashionable Makati vest, took up his Uzi sub-machine gun andcoffee-shop, one of the capitals most ir- threw a few essentials in a bag. Then herepressible hubs of political gossip, news reached for the phone. "Eddy," he said inleaks, rumour and intrigue. It was there on a strained voice, "I have this problem andSaturday morning, Feb. 22, that Juan Id like to know if youll help." After thePonce Enrile, for many years one of Presi- brieiest moment, Lt.-Gen. Fidel Ramosdent Marcoss most loyal subordinates, replied: "Ill be with you a hundred per-Defence Minister and an architect of mar- cent . tial law, got word that Marcos men were Thus was set the stage for the mostcoming to get him. Over a cup of coffee dramatic weekend in recent Philippinewith Deputy Prime Minister Jos6 Rono, history. In that moment was sealed,Enrile was defending the beleaguered though he did not know it and would notpresident. A call came from a third cabinet have believed it, the fate of President Fer-colleague, Trade & Industry Minister dinand Marcos. The rebellion of EnrileRoberto Ongpin: "Johnny, can you do and Ramos, at least initially, had less to dosomething about my security men? with democracy and authoritarianism thanTheyve all been rounded up." Ongpin with their own long-smouldering griev-had l9 bodyguards. Enrile later recounted ances. As Enrile tells it, the key element in ASIAWEEK, MARCH 9, 1986
  2. 2. Y;{:,:it- t- .l INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Ramoss decision was the secret reinstate- pened a long time ago because of discrimi- tion leaders. Ver, they said, had discussed ment of General Fabian Ver as armed nation in promotions, assignments, the seizure and murder of Ramon Mitra, forces chief of staff. Ver immediately put schooling privileges. I think it was in- Aquilino Pimentel, Neptali Gonzales, his own men in key military posi- evitable that this should come to pass," Homobono Adaza, Luis Villaluerte and Honasans men, in full combat gear Rene Saguisag as well as business leaders tions "without consulting the minister of defence, without consulting Gen. Ramos. and trained for just such an eventuality, Dante Santos, Jose ConcePcion Jr., The junior officers were terribly upset. " were speedily deployed. By nightfall lights Vicente Paterno and Vicente Jayme and The defence minister also called the glowed onlyin the lobby, the hall, Enriles some clergymen including Jesuit lawyer Archbishop. Redoubtable, voluble Jaime office and the press room. Across the Joaquin Bernas, president of the Ateneo twelve-lane E. De Los Santos Avenue at University well as Enrile and Ramos. as Cardinal Sin wields immense moral sua- sion in the Philippines, and Enrile begged Camp Crame, headquarters of the inte- "The - plan was to kill us all and blame him to use it to intensify anti-government grated national police and the Philippine it on the communists," says Mitra, "then action and rally support to the Enrile- -onstabulary, there was equal vigilance. Marcos would have used that as an excuse Ramos bid to overthrow the president and Half the reformers were PC men The to declare a state of emergency, equivalent his loyal general. In the days that followed conspirators said they had learned of a to martial law." "As far back as 1982," the Catholic church played a pivotal role Malacanairg plot to assassinate top opposi- said Enrile, "we were getting persistent in bringing Marcos down, with priests and nuns out in force and the propagandaII machinery of the archdiocese fully harnessed for the effort. Sin was more concerned with installing Corazon Aquino as president and the military revolt was the answer to his prayers. The orchestration of ecclesiastical and civilian opposition gave birth to "people power." (l ^L n arrival at his office in the Defence H|"".TI J,ill*.:f T3*::1,1,$i1; guards break out brand-new M-16 Ar- malites, still wrapped in plastic, and an arsenal of mortars and Israel-made Uzis ;! and Galils. He ordered his information of- I ficer, lawyer Jose Flores, to call a press conference in the social hall. At around 6:45, Enrile and Ramos met 1 reporters. The defence minister was dress- ed for a siege: latigue jacket, blue denim trousers, sports shoes. Ramos, in a grey bush jacket and chomping a cigar, looked very much at ease for a man committed to Loyalist Marines armed insurrection against his chief . Enrile prepare 6sult, disclosed that he had been the man behind MANDALUYONG Feb.23 "We Belong" since its formation in 1982. "I caused [it to be] organised because ... there was an attempt to eliminate us and as &- PASG a matter of self defence we had to [have] a group that wanted to reform the armed forces. " Ramos, too, had been involved. When the reform movement was em- ;f fn& a boldened to make a public stand at the r) Military Academy in Baguio on Mar. 21, 1985, "I was encouraged" and openly told k""-": _{"& eoni the president to "be conscious of the aspira- ,o,-0". tions of our young people in the armed forces," he said. "But we got no real ef- 6do" fort to effect reforms." Marcos, said Ramos, ignored reports submitted by gen- erals 4nd colonels. "He had plenty of time to put the proper men in the right jobs, to stop graft and corruption in the armed forces, to stop political patronage ... and utilise efficiency." An irrevocable rift widened between professional soldiers, of Villamor Airbase whom Gen. Ramos saw himself as the epitomy, and those under Gen Ver, whose only merit was loyalty to Mar- cos. Added Enrile: "This division hap-
  3. 3. -TET-l-i:l;r- INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRSI K. Chua - Asiaweek "An endless stream of supporters" Confronted by a determined crowd, an armoured personnel carrier retreats: this crusade for better government." But later it was corrupted. We do not have reports that there were efforts to eliminate Enrile also revealed for the first time real democracy here. Its a democracy of us. The information was that elements manufactured votes." from Mindanao were to be brought in to that the assassination attempt on him on the eve of martial law in 1972 was a set-up Saturday evening after the press con- do the job. It was at that point we decided to justify it. "[This] is an act of contri- ference, Enrile talked by phone with Cor- as u g.oup to protect ourselves, and this is tion, to atone. Had I known that it would azon Aquino in Cebu, where she had just whai is now known as the AFP reform finished speaking before some 50000 at movement." Enrile himself was at another be used to repress our people, I would not have agreed. It was to be for a noble pur- the citys Fuente Osmefra, the third in a meeting in the palace a fortnight ago. series of nationwide rallies she had promis- "Geneials were present. There was a plan pose to stabilise a situation in our land. - ed if cheated out of the presidency. She to arrest all the leaders of the opposition asked Enrile: "What can I do for you?" and some members of the parliament. I "Nothing, just pray for us," the defence talked to one [regional unified com- minister replied. Enrile also informed the manderl from the south and I understand American and Japanese ambassadors and certain hit men or hit lists directed against opposition leaders about his rebellion. UNIDO leaders have been prepared." C-aidinat Sin urged Manilans to take food On cheating in the elections, Enrile Camp Aguinaldo, offer prayers and admitted "I am bothered by my consci- to keep vigil. Broadcasting, Sin called on the ence that we have done this to our people. people ito show solidarity and support in In my own region [Cagayan Valley in the this very crucial period, when our two northl we cheated to the extent of 350000 good friends have shown their idealism. votes. I believe the president did not win Help them by your Presence." I cannot in conscience recognise him as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed I n Cebu, Aquinos aides, worried about Forces." He went on: "lm appealing to I assassination. hid her in a monastery. my brother-members of the cabinet to I rn. U.S. consul oflered an American heed the will of the people expressed in naval ship docked in readiness to evacuate the election." Gen: Ramos added: "The American citizens. Aquinos aides rejected president of 1986 is not the same president io whom we pledged our loyalty. It is clear the gesture. One told Asiaweek: "h wouldnt look nice if our president is seen hes no longer the able and capable com- seeking refuge in an American vessel." MP mander-in-chief because he has put his Ramon Mitras offer of sanctuary in his personal and family interests above the in- native Palawan was also declined. Aquino ierests of the people. The general appeal- ed to "fair-minded, dedicated, people- decided to fly to Manila the following afternoon in a private Cessna plane despite oriented members of the armed forces and Marcos and Ver confer: Argument fears that it could be intercepted and shot the integrated national police to join us in ASIAWEEK, MARCH 9. 1986
  4. 4. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS idown. the people." Added Enrile: "l hope the Its my way of helping." Confessed Ping After 10:00 p.m. Saturday night, man who has led this country for 20 years Makalintal, 19, an accounting student: "l i.Enrile, interviewed on the Catholic radio will perform one noble act, prevent blood- was afraid to go out last night, but I feltstation Veritas, revealed that Ver had shed and recognise the winds of change." guilty staying home, so here I am."agreed "not to attack us. I hope they By early Sunday morning, the crowd, At 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Ramos andrespect that. If not, there might be blood- now 40,000, was swelling and becoming Enrile held their second press conference.shed and Marcos will answer to the world restive. Food was pouring in. "l probably Enrile revealed he had spoken to Marcos... [as] butcher of his own soldiers and gained weight," joked Enrile. "For the by phone, telling him "the matter is nocountrymen. He cannot scare us any first time, the people are with the military. longer negotiable." Ramos told newsmenmore." He refused Marcoss offer of Before, we were viewed as enemies of the "so many oflicers of all four commands asclemency. "We are not alone in this people. This is the resurrection of the arm- well as enlisted men have joined us, but wefight," Enrile reminded the president. ed forces as the true guardian of the peo- do not know of any single man who has"We are ready to die for our country. ple. People out there are protecting us in- joined them [Marcos and Ver]." MilitaryEnough is enough, Mr. President, your stead of we therh." About 3:30 that after- commanders of 40 provinces in all twelvetime is up." noon Enrile transferred his men from GHQ regions and the four districts of Metro- The first general to defect was Brig.- to join Ramos across the highway in Camp Manila had pledged loyalty. "I think thatsGen, Ramon Farolan, Marcoss cus- Crame. "We abandoned Aguinaldo be- an indication of the popular support of thistoms commissioner, who arrived in battle cause it was too large to handle," he later movement. The new armed forces are beingfatigues. Then came Postmaster General explained. One of his lieutenants, how- supported by people power." Ramos saidJ. Roilo Golez, a navy man. He told ever, told Asiaweek: "Some marines arriv- he had l7 armoured tanks and two helicop-Asiaweek he was disturbed by election ters ready if Marcos-Ver troops attacked.fraud and intimidation, and the walkout Enrile expected the situation "to getby Comelecs computer tabulators. He lively" by nightfall. "We are not runningsuggested "a compromise transition away," Ramos declared, though he ac-government." General Romeo Espino, knowledged two battalions of Vers scoutVers predecessor as chief of staff, arrived, rangers and one marine battalion underas did Brig.-Gen. Manuel Salientes and Brig.-Gen. Artemio Tadiar were ready toeven movie & TV star Nora Aunor. advance lrom Camp Aguinaldo across the highway and a column of armoured per- fter midnight, Marcos summoned sonnel carriers from Fort Bonifacio was on the media. "I call upon the its way down Ortigas Avenue on the right. minister of national defence and Salvador Laurel arrived, just in fromthe vice chief of staff to stop this stupidity Cebu. Unperturbed, he had come to "con-and surrender." No warrant of arrest had gratulate Minister Enrile and Gen. Ramosbeen issued, said Marcos, but they were for their great act of courage." The threeacting "as if they were part of an aborted then retired to Ramoss curtained office.coup and assassination plot against the Venerable opposition leader Lorenzopresident and First Lady supposed to take Tanada, 87. came to promise mass actions,place tonight." The president claimed saying "we wont stop until we get"our men captured officers in thepresi- through that barricade at Mendiola [thedential command, who revealed the con- bridge in front of Malacafrangl." Renespiracy and we were able to neutralise Saguisag and Teodoro Locsin conferredthree-fourths of the force without blood- with Ramos and Enrile and decided to askshed ... about two battalions." He said Aquino to go on the air later in the eveningcommanders had organised troops to to plead for non-violence. Ramos orderedeliminate the [Enrile-Ramosl forces, which col. Honasan: A "round-ujt;fr:)Y""-"" leaflets dropped to Marcos loyalists:"can easily be wiped out with artillery and "What good is killing each other now? Lettank fire." He presented the First Ladys ed at eight this morning and were not sure us join hands and together build a betterformer escort officer, a certain Ricardo theyre friendly." Aguinaldos open ter- tomorrow ... be heroes without having toMorales, who confessed: "I am a partici- rain would have been harder to defend. die ... show the world we believe in Godpant in a plot to attack Malacanang and Mid-afternoon, Enrile and Ramos made and we are a truly Christian country."secure the president." He named as leader formal demands that Marcos transfer theEnriles aide Col. Gregorio Honasan. The government to Corazon Aquino in an unday at 8:30 p.m., APCs advanc-conspiracy "was encouraged and sup- orderly and peaceful manner. ing from Fort Bonifacio were stop-ported, perhaps financially, by the opposi- Among the people-power thousands Y ped by civilians, who embracedtion. I cannot believe that Minister Ponce was Freddie Aguilar, a well-known pop soldiers. But negotiations with Gen.Enrile or Gen. Ramos are in this plot. I singer, who told Asiaweek "The minister Tadiar broke down and he issued anwant to talk to them." and the general united us all in a non- ultimatum: his battalions would hit the Countered Enrile: "The people want violent way." Movie star Aunor, 32, a rebels stronghold in 30 minutes if they didchange of leadership. There are ways he former KBL campaigner who donated not surrender. Ramos had earlier told[Marcos] can depart peacefully and quietly shirts and cigarettes to the soldiers, said: Asiaweek he and Enrile had sent "a high-and enjoy his remaining years in retire- "I believe in what they are doing." Retired level emissary to negotiate with Tadiar."ment. It can be done in a civilised doctor Hector Tagle, 70, volunteered his Ramos, however, slept two hours - themanner." Manilas ambassador to Thai- services, "the least I can do to help my first time in three days, an aide saidland, retired Lt.-Gen. Rafael lleto, offered countrymen." Said social worker Fernan- while Enrile had a bite to eat. More -to mediate. Ramos told Ileto: "It is not do Cruz, 39: "Most of us cant take up soldiers were pinning to their uniforms theabout the reformist movement, the army, arms. I came out of gratitude to Gen. reform movements symbol: a small na-but ryhether we, claiming to be a democra- Ramos." Betty Yucon, 23, a pretty in- tional flag with the red uppermost. A col-tic republic, recognise the manifest will of surance clerk, "baked cassava cookies. onel told Asiaweek the two thousandASIAWEEK, MARCH 9, 1986 fl
  5. 5. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRSprinted were not enough for "an endless fire at their fellow men, their parents, ences," said Col. Antonio Sotelo of thestream of supporters lrom everywhere." wives and children, whose only fault is to Air Forces l5th Strike Wing. Meanwhile, Downstiirs, white-robed nuns, told stand up for what they think is right" however, loyalist marines in three trucksof the ultimatum, began saying the rosary. By radio Ramos told Marcoss and five amphibious jeeps had capturedBy the statue of old soldier Gen. Rafael soldiers: "You are being abused to pro- the logistics command inside Camp Aguin-Crame, a group of privates swapped war long the Marcos r6gime which is now in its aldo and were crossing E. De Los Santosstories of Mindanao. Said Lt.-Col Virgilio dying days." If you join us, he said, "you Avenue to close in on Camp Crame. AtBio: "Without the people out there we can be sure of a life of decency ... ade- 5.45 a.m., marines fired teargas canistersmight have been killed last night." At quate opportunities for your children and at the crowd.Gate U, the crowds sang "Bayan Ko" (My loved ones." He disclosed that some Mar- At 6.27 a.m. on rebel radio DZRB, TVCountry), while at Gate I a noise barrage cos cabinet members "are being placed celebrity June Keithley announced thatreverberated with the opposition signal of under house arrest and we are very con- "Mr. Marcos and Bongbong have justtwo auto-horn honks. At a makeshift cerned about their fate." There was no taken off from the Manila International way his accusations could be verified but Airport." She added also falsely - thatmedical station doctors and nurses handed they helped break morale of government - Vers wife and Imelda Marcos had left at 3out aspirin and nuns and priests passedaround biscuits. At Ortigas and EDSA men and loyalist troops. p.m. Monday afternoon and Marcospeople lay down in front of two armoured The crucial moment was before dawn daughters Imee and Irene the night before,vehicles. Marcos loyalists on them joked Monday, Feb. 23. Gen. Ramos had set leaving Gen. Ver "alone in Malacaiang."with youngsters who plied them with food up a clandestine back-up radio station Keithley told loyalist troops: "You are notand flowers. after saboteurs destroyed the 50-kw trans- fighting for anything or anyone any more." The report was replayed for fif- teen minutes and is credited with breaking the determination of the attacking marines. Corazon Aquino called the station to thank the people for support "given not only to me and Doy Laurel but to Gen. Ramos and Minister Enrile," and to urge them to continue "peaceful, non-violent moves." Quipped anchorwoman Keithley: "At least we know we are no longer in the bedroom" (a reference to a sedst cam- paign remark by Marcos). Before nine Monday morning, Enrile and Ramos em- erged to greet the crowds outside. Enrile announced that "democracy has been re- stored to us. Henceforth, the armed forces will not be loyal to any one man but to the people, the nation, the constitution, the flag." A roar went up: "Johnny, Johnny, Johnny!" Added Enrile: "Let us pro- secute the killers of Ninoy Aquino." The people scre€rmed: "Ninoy, Ninoy, Ninoy!" ut at 9.10 a.m. Monday Marcos appeared on Channel 4 to denyCol. Santiago talking to marines loyal to Marcos: "Let us ioinhands" he had fled. "I am taking the oath tomorrow and I intend to stay as presi- At midnight Gen. Ramos took a jog mitter of church-owned Radio Veritas in dent." With him was Imelda Marcos,around the perimeter with two guards but Malolos, north of Manila. His foresight daughters Imee and Irene and grand-no sidearm. Back at headquarters at 2.03 proved critical in turning the tide to the children. Gen. Ver argued on air with hisa.m., he lit up a cigar and reported that a rebels. At 5.10 a.m. Ramos reported "an commander-in-chief. "The air force isHuey helicopter had been flown in bY overwhelming military force has been as- ready to mount an attack. Fighters are fly.defecting air force Pilots. On his sembled and directed to move against us" ing now." Marcos dismissed him with amahogany table were a book by Dr. Fred He warned "it will be blood on his [Mar- salute. Asked in the televised press confer-Schwarz entitled You Can Trust the Com cossl hands if he does not do anything .. ence if he would declare an emergency, themunists (to be Communists), a bible to reverse the situation.... Please tell the president replied: "Now that you mentionopen at Psalm 9l and a back issue of ,4sla- world it is Mr. Marcos who is now about it, Ihereby declare a curlew fromsixweek with himself on the cover. At 3:00 to inflict violence, terror and vengeance tonight." That elicited howls of laughtera.m. in the war room, he told huddled against our people here in Camp Crame." from watching rebel soldiers. Marcos saidjournalists it would be "completely honor- At around 6.20 a.m. seven Sikorskys he was authorising loyalist troops to seizeable on your part to move down to the bristling with rockets and cannon landed all televiqion and radio stations. Of the first floor. This building is not artillery- on the parade ground. The rebels braced Crame crowds, he scoffed: "lf you are go-proof." He said an attack was expected by themselves for a bloody attack. But the 17 ing to be frightened by 2,000 civilians thendaybreak (Monday morning) from loyalist pilots and gunners, sent by Marcos and lets not talk about running atroops two km away on Santolan Road. Ver to destroy the PC-INP headquarters government." Suddenly, the TV screensOn radio, he appealed to the people "to building housing Enrile, Ramos and their went blank. Rebel soldiers led by the forces organised by Marcos and troops, got out and saluted. Wild jubila- Mariano Santiago had overrun the broad-Ver. But we dont expect Marcos troops to tion ensued. "We followed our consci- casting station after a three-hour fight. ASIAWEEK, MARCH 9. 1986