LET'S HOPE HISTORY WILL BE KINDER TO US THAN THE PHILIPPINES
Calls for electionOn November 23, 1985, after pressures from Washington, Marcos suddenly announced that a presidential snap election would take place the following year, one year ahead of the regular presidential election schedule, to legitimize his control over the country. The snap election was legalized with the passage of Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 (National Law No. 883) by the Marcos-controlled unicameral congress called the Regular Batasang Pambansa. The growing opposition movement encouraged Ninoy Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, to run for the presidency with Salvador Laurel as running mate for vice-president. Marcos ran for re-election, with Arturo Tolentino as his running mate. The Aquino-Laurel tandem ran under the United Opposition (UNIDO) party, while the Marcos-Tolentino ticket ran under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) party.
Snap electionThe elections were held on February 7, 1986. The official election canvasser, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), declared Marcos the winner. The final tally of the COMELEC had Marcos winning with 10,807,197 votes against Aquino's 9,291,761 votes. On the other hand, the final tally of the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), an accredited poll watcher, had Aquino winning with 7,835,070 votes against Marcos' 7,053,068 points. This electoral exercise was marred by widespread reports of violence and tampering of election results, culminating in the walkout of 29 COMELEC computer technicians to protest the deliberate manipulation of the official election results to favor Ferdinand Marcos. The walkout was considered as one of the early "sparks" of the People Power Revolution. The walkout also served as an affirmation to allegations of vote-buying, fraud, and tampering of election results by the KBL.
Because of reports of alleged fraud, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a statement condemning the elections. The United States Senate also passed a resolution stating the same condemnation. US president Ronald Reagan issued a statement calling the fraud reports as "disturbing". In response to the protests, COMELEC claimed that Marcos with 53 percent won over Aquino. However, NAMFREL countered that the latter won over Marcos with 52 percent of votes.
On February 15, Marcos was proclaimed by COMELEC and Batasang Pambansa as the winner amidst the controversy. All 50 opposition members of the Parliament walked out in protest. The Filipino people refused to accept the results, however, asserting that Aquino was the real victor. Both "winners" took their oath of office in two different places, with Aquino gaining greater mass support. Aquino also called for coordinated strikes and mass boycott of the media and businesses owned by Marcos's cronies. As a result, the crony banks, corporations, and media were hit hard, and their shares in the stock market plummeted to record levels.
Events of the revolution
Appalled by the bold and apparent election irregularities, the Reform the Armed Forces Movement set into motion a coup attempt against Marcos. The initial plan was for a team to assault Malacañang Palace and arrest Ferdinand Marcos. Other military units will be taking over key strategic facilities, such as the airport, military bases, TV and radio stations, the GHQAFP in Camp Aguinaldo, and major highway junctions to restrict counteroffensive by Marcos-loyal troops.
Lt.Col Gregorio Honasan was to lead the team that was going to assault Malacañang Palace.
However, after Marcos learned about the plot, he ordered their leaders' arrest, and presented to the international and local press some of the captured plotters, Maj. Saulito Aromin and Maj. Edgardo Doromal.
Threatened with their impending imprisonment, Enrile and his fellow coup plotters decided to ask for help from then AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Fidel Ramos, who was also the chief of the Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police). Ramos agreed to resign from his position and support the plotters. Enrile also contacted the highly influential Cardinal Archbishop of Manila Jaime Sin for his support.
At about 6:30pm, February 22, Enrile and Ramos held a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo, where they announced that they had resigned from their positions in Marcos's cabinet and were withdrawing support from his government. Marcos himself later conducted his own news conference calling on Enrile and Ramos to surrender, urging them to "stop this stupidity."
At about 9 p.m., in a message aired over Radio Veritas, Cardinal Sin exhorted Filipinos to come to the aid of the rebel leaders by going to EDSA between Camp Crame and Aguinaldoand giving emotional support, food and other supplies. For many, this seemed an unwise decision since civilians would not stand a chance against a dispersal by government troops. Nevertheless, many people, especially priests and nuns, trooped to EDSA.Rising mass support
Radio Veritas played a critical role during the mass uprising. Former University of the Philippines president Francisco Nemenzo stated that: "Without Radio Veritas, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to mobilize millions of people in a matter of hours." Similarly, a certain account in the event said that: "Radio Veritas, in fact, was our umbilical cord to whatever else was going on."[
At dawn, Sunday, government troops arrived to knock down the main transmitter of Radio Veritas, cutting off broadcasts to people in the provinces. The station switched to a standby transmitter with a limited range of broadcast. The station was targeted because it had proven to be a valuable communications tool for the people supporting the rebels, keeping them informed of government troop movements and relaying requests for food, medicine, and supplies.
Still, people came to EDSA until it swelled to hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians. The mood in the street was actually very festive, with many bringing whole families. Performers entertained the crowds, nuns and priests led prayer vigils, and people set up barricades and makeshift sandbags, trees, and vehicles in several places along EDSA and intersecting streets such as Santolan and Ortigas Avenue. Everywhere, people listened to Radio Veritas on their radios. Several groups sang Bayan Ko (My Homeland), which, since 1980, had become a patriotic anthem of the opposition. People frequently flashed the LABAN (fight) sign, which is an "L" formed with their thumb and index finger.
In the mid-afternoon, Radio Veritas relayed reports of Marines massing near the camps in the east and LVT-5 tanks approaching from the north and south. A contingent of Marines with tanks and armored vans, led by Brigadier General Artemio Tadiar, was stopped along Ortigas Avenue, about two kilometers from the camps, by tens of thousands of people. Nuns holding rosaries knelt in front of the tanks and men and women linked arms together to block the troops. Tadiar asked the crowds to make a clearing for them, but they did not budge. In the end, the troops retreated with no shots fired.
By evening, the standby transmitter of Radio Veritas failed. Shortly after midnight, the staff were able to go to another station to begin broadcasting from a secret location under the moniker "Radyo Bandido" (Bandit Radio). June Keithley, with Angelo Castro, was the radio broadcaster who continued Radio Veritas' program throughout the night and in the remaining days.
At dawn on Monday, February 24, the first serious encounter with government troops occurred. Marines marching from Libis, in the east, lobbed tear gas at the demonstrators, who quickly dispersed. Some 3,000 Marines then entered and held the east side of Camp Aguinaldo.
Later, helicopters manned by the 15th Strike Wing of the Philippine Air Force, led by Colonel Antonio Sotelo, were ordered from Sangley Point in Cavite (South of Manila) to head to Camp Crame. Secretly, the squadron had already defected and instead of attacking Camp Crame, landed in it, with the crowds cheering and hugging the pilots and crew members. ABell 214 helicopter piloted by Major Deo Cruz of the 205th Helicopter Wing and Sikorsky S-76 gunships piloted by Colonel Charles Hotchkiss of the 20th Air Commando Squadron joined the rebel squadron earlier in the air. The presence of the helicopters boosted the morale of Enrile and Ramos who had been continually encouraging their fellow soldiers to join the opposition movement. In the afternoon, Aquino arrived at the base where Enrile, Ramos, RAM officers and a throng were waiting.
The capture of Channel 4
At around that time, June Keithley received reports that Marcos had left Malacañang Palace and broadcast this to the people at EDSA. The crowd celebrated and even Ramos and Enrile came out from Crame to appear to the crowds. The jubilation was however short-lived as Marcos later appeared on television on the government-controlled Channel 4, (using the foreclosed ABS-CBN facilities, transmitter and compound) declaring that he would not step down. It was thereafter speculated that the false report was a calculated move against Marcos to encourage more defections.
During this broadcast, Channel 4 suddenly went off the air. A contingent of rebels, under Colonel Mariano Santiago, had captured the station. Channel 4 was put back on line shortly after noon, with Orly Punzalan announcing, "Channel 4 is on the air again to serve the people." By this time, the crowds at EDSA had swollen to over a million. (Some estimates placed them at two million.) This broadcast was considered the "return" of ABS-CBN on air because this was the time when former employees of ABS-CBN were inside the complex after 14 years of closure since Marcos took it over during the Martial law of 1972. The people who were manning this broadcast were the likes of June Keithley, Fr. Aris Sison, Fr. Efren Datu, Fr. Bong Bongayan, Jose Mari Velez, Orly Punzalan and were directed by Johnny Manahan with former ABS employees. Also this was the first time when the late Eugenio "Geny" Lopez Jr.'s cousin Augusto "Jake" Lopez stepped into ABS-CBN after it had been closed.
In the late afternoon, rebel helicopters attacked Villamor Airbase, destroying presidential air assets. Another helicopter went to Malacañang, fired a rocket and caused minor damage. Later, most of the officers who had graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) defected. The majority of the Armed Forces had already changed sides.
AFP holds fireThe actual dialogue on TV between Marcos and then AFP Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver went as follows:
Fabian Ver: We have to immobilize the helicopters they've got. We have two fighter planes flying now to strike at any time, sir.
Ferdinand Marcos: My order is not to attack.
Ver: They are massing civilians near our troops and we cannot keep on withdrawing. You asked me to withdraw yesterday....
Marcos (interrupting): My order is to disperse [them] without shooting them.
Ver: We cannot withdraw all the time...
Marcos:' No, no, no! Hold on. You disperse the crowds without shooting them. You may use any other weapon...
On the morning of Tuesday, February 25, at around 7 a.m., a minor clash occurred between loyal government troops and the reformists. Snipers stationed atop the government-owned Channel 9 tower, near Channel 4, began shooting at the reformists. Many rebel soldiers surged to the station.
Later in the morning, Corazon Aquino was inaugurated as President of the Philippines in a simple ceremony at Club Filipino in Greenhills, about a kilometer from Camp Crame. She was sworn in as President by Senior Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee, and Laurel as Vice-President by Justice Vicente Abad Santos. The Bible on which Aquino swore her oath was held by Aurora Aquino, the mother of Ninoy Aquino. Attending the ceremonies were Ramos, who was then promoted to General, Enrile, and many politicians. Outside Club Filipino, all the way to EDSA, hundreds of people cheered and celebrated. Bayan Ko (My Country, a popular folk song and the unofficial National Anthem of protest) was sung after Aquino's oath-taking. Many people wore yellow, the color of Aquino's campaign for presidency.
An hour later, Marcos conducted the inauguration at Malacañang. Loyalist civilians attended the ceremony, shouting "Marcos, Marcos, Marcos pa rin! (Marcos, Marcos, still Marcos!)". On the Palace balcony, Marcos took his oath as the President of the Philippines, broadcast by IBC-13 and GMA-7. None of the invited foreign dignitaries attended the ceremony for security reasons. The couple finally stepped out in the balcony of the palace in front of the 3000 KBL loyalists who were shouting to Marcos: "Capture the snakes!" First Lady Imelda Marcos sang one more rendition of "Dahil Sa Iyo" (Because of You), the couple's theme song, rather tearfully, chanting her trademark Tagalog entreaties:
Because of you I attained happiness
I offer you my love
If it is true that you shall enslave me
All of this is because of you.
After the inauguration, the Marcos family and their close associates hurriedly rushed to leave the Palace. The broadcast of the event was also cut off as rebel troops successfully captured the other stations.
By this time, hundreds of people had amassed at the barricades along Mendiola, only a hundred meters away from Malacañang. They were prevented from storming the Palace by loyal government troops securing the area. The angry demonstrators were pacified by priests who warned them not to be violent.