22 feb 2012. day 22. at the end of questions for the prosecution, senator alan peter cayetano reminded of feb 22 1986 and thanked the presiding judge juan ponce enrile “for what he did” then, or something like that. enrile brushed him off: “that’s all in the past…” and at once went back to the task at hand.
it’s quite ironic that of all the highlights in his political life, it is EDSA — the one that made him a people power hero — that enrile does not really like to remember or celebrate. very disappointed in the cory administration, he supported coup attempts post-EDSA and openly expressed regret about giving way to cory in ’86.
but, really, in feb ’86, given people power’s clear clamor for cory to replace marcos, enrile had no choice but to stand aside and let cory take her oath as president. the people would have settled for no one else; besides, they had no idea, didn’t have a clue, that enrile considered himself better qualified to run a government. and because he had denied marcos’s accusation of a failed coup plot, and people had bought into cardinal sin’s assurance that the military rebels were “our friends”, it was easy for the people to wax romantic and think that he and ramos had defected to support cory’s cause. like knights in shining armor.
what if enrile had not denied the coup plot. what if he had told the truth at the feb 22 presscon — that the plan was to install a revolutionary council that would include cory and cardinal sin. how would that have changed the outcome? i guess it would have meant a divided people: cory would have rejected all talk of power-sharing with the military that arrested and jailed her husband for 7 years. and a people divided would have been to marcos’s advantage.
it bears pointing out that in EDSA the conflict was no longer between marcos and cory — panalo na si cory by the 7th day of the crony boycott, marcos would have folded, EDSA or no EDSA. the conflict was between cory and enrile. cory who wanted nothing to do with enrile; enrile who didn’t think much of cory’s leadership skills, if any. but it was out of their hands. it was the people — by their sheer presence, in huge numbers, stopping tanks and braving death, unarmed — who were in control, and they wanted cory in the place of marcos, and they wanted enrile and ramos and RAM in the place of ver and the generals, and that decided the matter. cory and enrile were simply forced to negotiate and to reconcile their differences.
unfortunately the reconciliation was short-lived. too soon the people dispersed, the power dissipated, and the differences re-surfaced and proved irreconcileable. perhaps if the people had been aware, informed, of the dynamics and issues between the two, and if they had remained vigilant and on people-power mode post-EDSA, maybe then, cory and enrile would have gotten the hang of reconciliation over time, and the nation would probably be in a better place.
still and all, EDSA was fantastic, an extraordinary event, a timeless lesson on how to effect change non-violently. enrile should not regret EDSA. if he had not given way to cory, if he had contested cory’s claim to the presidency instead, he would probably not be senate president and presiding judge of the senate impeachment court today.