Category: fvr

the dacer whodunit 2

kadarating pa lang ni michael ray aquino, pinawalang-sala na niya sina erap at ping in the dacer-corbito murders.  at wala daw siyang alam tungkol sa kaso.  of course no one believes him, least of all the dacer sisters.

read too:
Dacer-Corbito case will not be closed without Tan Testimony
and for timeless links and a host of unanswered questions:
the dacer whodunit and why ping

untrue story, unsung heroes, of EDSA

25 years later and mainstream media still have to get straight the (hi)story of marcos in the time of EDSA.   it’s almost like the bad old days are back and envelopes are going around in aid of reinventing the marcos image.   or maybe it’s just pure ignorance, no time to read, no time for critical thinking?

i was half-listening to anc yesterday afternoon, pia hontiveros and coco alcuaz were annotating from studio the video from the edsa 25 show, i was multi-tasking, checking out fb and twitter, when i heard pia say something like, buti na lang marcos did not give the order to shoot, otherwise it would not have been a bloodless revolution (correct me if i heard wrong) and my ears ears perked up.   of course they started talking of that tv footage when marcos denied ver permission to bomb the rebel camp, kesyo siyempre how could marcos have given permission with the world watching.  buti na lang na at some point coco wondered if that marcos-ver exchange was “to some extent staged” — good for him — except that pia had nothing to say to that, and it ended there.

just a half hour or so later, i had moved to teleradyo‘s dos por dos, and omg gerry baja and anthony taberna were rattling off the same story, na according to taberna ay kinonfirm pa raw ni senator honasan?   really?   when?   say it isn’t so, senator.

kalokah.   do these people read at all?   if not my edsa books, then the daily broadsheets man lang?  the inquirer had a story on it yesterday mismo: How revolt was won: Turning points by Alexander Aguirre, chief of operations of the Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police during the EDSA revolt.

on day 3, the same early morning that col. antonio sotelo defected to the rebel side, his squad landing some 7 sikorksy gunships in crame, over at the libis end of camp aguinaldo the crowds were tear-gassed by anti-riot and dispersal police.  which was mentioned in pia’s vox populi tuesday night, but they only went as far as the story of the wind suddenly shifting and blowing the tear gas fumes back into the faces of the anti-riot troopers (laughter), as in miracle daw talaga.   what nobody told was that the troopers were wearing gas masks and that they were able to clear the way for the marines led by col. braulio balbas who broke through the east wall of Camp Aguinaldo and took up positions facing the rebel Camp Crame.

aguirre’s version:

… Marcos forces were able to move into Camp Aguinaldo by employing the First Provincial Tactical Marine Regiment under Balbas. The still sleepy people manning the barricades at Santolan Road were caught by surprise as the column was preceded and assisted by a CDC battalion that dispersed the crowd.

By 8:30 a.m., the unit of Balbas, armed with cannons and mortars, had established their positions at the vicinity of the KKK building in Camp Aguinaldo just opposite the rebel headquarters.

Looking down from the high ground of Aguinaldo’s golf course, Balbas had awesome firepower “boresighted” on the rebel headquarters only 200 meters away: 3 howitzers, 28 mortars, 6 rocket launchers, 6 machine guns, and 1000 rifles. [Alfred McCoy et al, Veritas Extra October 1986]

Order to open fire

At about 9:10 a.m., (Marine commander) Tadiar received an order from the Army Operations Center to direct Balbas to open fire on Crame. The center said the order came from Malacañang. This was a grave order. Tadiar tried to call up Malacañang for confirmation, but he could not get through by phone or radio. So, he went to Malacañang to personally verify it and Gen. Fabian Ver confirmed the order.

He relayed the confirmation to Balbas, but the latter said that if he fired his cannons and mortars many people could get killed. Tadiar then told him to use his discretion. Accordingly, as the Marines would not like the innocent civilians killed, they never fired their weapons.

in fact, marcos did not cancel the kill-order until 3:30 a.m. of day 4, according to cecilio arillo in Breakaway (1986, page 108).

FORT BONIFACIO, 3:30 AM ► The Marines were jubilant over the news that Marcos had just cancelled his order for them to attack Camp Crame using mortars.

as for that marcos-ver exchange on live tv that same morning of day 3, and marcos’s alleged heroism, which i first read about in America’s Boy by James Hamilton Paterson, here’s an excerpt from my book review published in the inquirer in 1999:

In defense of his view that Ferdinand Marcos was a heroic, if tragic, figure in the time of EDSA, Paterson cites the “extraordinary” moment on live television when Marcos denied Fabian Ver permission to bomb the rebel camp that was then surrounded by human barricades. “To many of those who knew and worked with him,” Paterson writes, “this is still regarded as Marcos’s finest hour. It was the moment when, no matter what orders he might have given in the past in the name of expediency, he refused to give the instinctive datu’s command that would have translated into wholesale slaughter.”

How romantic of Paterson, and how naïve, to fall for Marcos’s palabas. In fact, that extraordinary exchange was pure sarsuela, a (failed) ploy to scare the people away from EDSA, and, incidentally, a response to Pope John Paul II’s plea for a non-violent resolution of the conflict, and to the US Congress’s threat to cut off all economic and military aid to the Philippines should violence break out.

In fact, Marcos and Ver had long gone ballistic and given the kill-order but the Marines, led by General Artemio Tadiar (at EDSA/Ortigas on Day 2) and Colonel Braulio Balbas (in Camp Aguinaldo on Day 3), kept defying these orders. When Marcos had that exchange with Ver on nationwide TV, he was just being his wily old self, making the best of a bad situation by pretending to be the good guy (look, ma, no bloodshed), hoping to fool Washington D.C. and the Vatican, if not the Filipino people, a little while longer.

i have no doubt that if balbas had followed orders and bombed camp crame, marcos would have blamed it on him and tadiar, using that televised exchange with ver as proof that he had given no orders to shoot.

fvr himself, in a 2006 blogpost by ellen tordesillas, can’t seem to decide whether or not marcos gave orders to fire.  first he says

Even Mr. Marcos, I think, had some pangs of conscience because he did not give order to fire or to attack in spite of the insistence of Gen. Ver.”

in the next breath he tells of  balbas being given orders to fire at crame from aguinaldo.

In the case of Balbas, he got so many orders to fire, fire, fire. He kept delaying. He said, ‘Sir, there are so many many civilians. Sir, we do not have enough ammunition. He did not give the order to fire the artillery.”

balbas and tadiar were the unsung heroes of EDSA.   every year i wonder why the media have never sought them out to tell their story.  maybe because they were nevertheless regarded as loyalists, because they never defected to the rebel side and continued to protect, but not follow the orders of, the president? [Breakaway 89]

but wasn’t that infinitely more heroic than defecting and then hiding behind the skirts of nuns and other civilians?

when enrile crossed edsa to join ramos in crame

“The military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr., said the 2,000 soldiers and two tanks will take part in reenacting the salubong or the welcome given by the crowds gathered at EDSA to military forces who turned against then dictator Ferdinand Marcos.”

how romantic the spin on enrile leaving camp aguinaldo and crossing edsa on day 2, feb 23.   indeed it was quite a dramatic event because it was the first time the people saw enrile, and ramos, who met him at the crame gate, whom they’d been shielding from marcos, and of course they went crazy, chanting johnny johnny johnny, lauding the defense minister who had dared defy the dictator to support cory aquino, or so they thought.

The people linked arms, creating a protective wall for the reformist troops. Col. Honasan forged ahead to shield Minister Enrile as they crossed the street. Honasan was very scared when they started out. But when they hit the first row of people, and the people started to wipe the soldiers’ brow, give them food, and thank them, Honasan knew they had won. “All my fears disappeared. The worst scenario, for me, was not that we would have been bombed but that the people might turn against us.”

enrile had decided to join ramos in crame to consolidate forces, camp crame being smaller, easier to defend.   but in fact ramos had suggested the move early that morning when he jogged over to aguinaldo, and enrile and honasan had said no.

Sonny Razon: General Ramos had been asking them to move to Crame since morning pa. But at that point, they weren’t convinced yet of the need to consolidate forces. In fact, they would have preferred it if General Ramos moved to Aguinaldo instead.

i think that enrile was loathe to move in with ramos because he suspected that ramos was a coryista.   day one, when enrile asked him to join them in aguinaldo, ramos was having a dialogue with coryistas picketing his house in alabang, urging him to resign and join cory’s camp, like his sister leticia shahani had done in december 85.   ramos had given every indication that he was just waiting for the right time to make such a move.   and he took his time making chika with the coryistas, so that enrile’s men had to call several times, asking him to come, now na.

enrile may have been uncertain where ramos’s sympathies really lay.   but when news came of tadiar’s convoy of tanks and apcs leaving fort bonifacio and making its way to edsa, for real, kinabahan na rin siguro siya and moving to crame was the wisest thing to do, never mind his dream of becoming president.

Synchronous events: the people stopping tanks in Ortigas, and Enrile crossing Edsa to join Ramos. The coincidence of the people’s peak experience with Enrile’s move indicates that there was more to the crossing than a simple consolidation of forces. Ramos had earlier urged them to move but Enrile and RAM were reluctant to give up Aguinaldo and, perhaps more so, to give in to Ramos, who was by then perceived to be for Cory.

In a sense the dramatic crossing signified Enrile’s surrender to forces other than RAM, and it was as critical and momentous as the people’s encounter with tanks.

in EDSA, the crucial conflict was not between cory and marcos anymore — marcos was a goner; it was only a matter of time before he either stepped down voluntarily or was forced out, given the boycott, and later, given the ortigas stand-off, when the people stopped the tanks and the marines defied his orders.

in EDSA, the crucial conflict was between cory and enrile.   they had the same objective, to oust marcos and take over, and neither had any intention of giving way to the other, much less of joining forces.

that fateful EDSA weekend derailed both cory and enrile from their separate paths.   the people, taking matters into their own hands and demonstrating their awesome power to render marcos powerless, gave cory and enrile no choice but to reconcile their differences and submit to the people’s will.

cory had no choice but to reconcile with the same military that had caused her and ninoy so much pain and suffering (enrile was ninoy’s jailer).   enrile had no choice but to submit to cory, a civilian housewife without experience in state and military affairs.   EDSA was just too dramatic and decisive to ignore.

when he crossed edsa, leaving his own turf for safer ground, it was like enrile was bowing to the will of the people and taking the first step towards reconciliation.

so it wasn’t just a salubong, which romantic notion depoliticizes, even trivializes, that high point of the revolution.   i wonder whose idea it was.  the edsa commission has been doing a reenactment year after year after year.   and year after year after year it is played up by a gullible, uncritical, and unwittingly complicit mainstream media.

why coryistas marched to EDSA in 1986

everytime february comes around i check out the first-person accounts, sifting for details that would further flesh out my chronology and / or that would either confirm or dispute my reading of the four-day event as essayed in Himagsikan.

this from rafael alunan III‘s feb 21 business world column is a great find:

In the afternoon of Feb. 22, 1986, Manindigan! held an emergency meeting in Benguet, at the corner of J. Vargas and ADB Ave., to assess its options, in case the Marcos regime cracked down on the pro-Aquino protest movement. Cory Aquino’s political rallies and ” miting de avance” that produced huge crowds before and after the snap elections had the Marcos regime worried. With allegations of election cheating that triggered a mass walkout of computerencoders, the air was rife with rumors about a possible military strike by reform-minded elements in the military.

Jimmy Ongpin, Benguet boss and M! chair, presided. Unknown to many members, he was also secretly linked to RAM — the Reform the Armed Forces Movement. Many members, through their own sources, had been receiving more or less the same subtle signals that something was afoot, and to be prepared for any exventuality at any time. A handful were aware that Jimmy’s brother, Bobby, Marcos’s business czar,was divested of his RAM-supplied bodyguards earlier that morning on orders of Gen. Fabian Ver.

So that meeting (it was Saturday) processed information, aligned thoughts, and explored survival options. It broke up amidst high anxiety at around 4:30. On my way home, while traveling down EDSA, I spotted a helicopter over Camp Aguinaldo on a steep dive, climb out of it and dive again. It was intriguing to say the least and I wondered if it was somehow related to what was discussed earlier.

As I walked into my house, the phone rang. A cousin called to say, “We finally have an army, open your TV, quick!” The first image I saw was Defense Minister Johnny Ponce-Enrile, in a military jacket with an Uzi slung over his shoulder, declaring his breakaway from the Marcos regime. Beside him was Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, vice chief of staff of the AFP.

we finally have an army! exactly my thought that Saturday afternoon in 1986 when my father phoned to make sure i was listening to radio veritas, enrile and ramos were about to hold a presscon!   and when i heard them say they were resigning their posts, enrile admitting there was cheating in cagayan, ramos declaring that marcos was not the same president they had pledged to serve, my heart jumped in excitement and my first thoughts were of cory:  sinusuwerte talaga!   it was like a military force had landed on her lap!

remember, we were in the midst of a crony boycott and bank runs, and really feeling giddy and audacious and radical, convinced that the business community would have no choice but to compel marcos to step down before the economy collapsed.   a rebel military force was like a hulog ng langit, just what cory needed, panalo na!

but unlike alunan et al, ordinary coryistas had no idea what was going on behind the scenes.   they had no idea that the defection was plan b, following a foiled coup plot.   the thinking was simple: they must be supporting cory, or else why would enrile admit helping cheat in cagayan?   and so when they heard butz aquino and then cardinal sin calling on them to go to EDSA and shield the soldiers from marcos’s military to prevent bloodshed, it all sounded good.

however, it was a relatively small crowd that went to EDSA that night.   most people refused to be rushed, lalo na’t there was no word from cory.   they wanted to be sure they were doing the right thing.   and what convinced them later that long night was the marcos presscon on tv when the president accused the two of a coup aborted (the people laughed, he had lost all credibility) and enrile’s fearless reply via veritas: enough is enough, mr. president. your time is up.   that was it.   having no inkling that enrile had hopes of preempting cory, the people just assumed he was out there to support cory vs. marcos.   the next day they marched to EDSA.