Category: tadiar & balbas

post EDSA: what happened to gen. tadiar

last feb 28, after reading doronila’s and de quiros’s inquirer columns of the day, i wrote a letter to the editor saying that they were only partly right, attributing EDSA to the courage of the people on the streets; the same with former president fvr who attributed it to the split military.   i pointed out that they neglected to give credit to the loyalist marines general artemio tadiar and colonel braulio balbas who were given the kill-order but defied their superiors.   i said they were the unsung heroes of EDSA and they were more heroic than the soldiers who defected and then hid behind the skirts of nuns and other civilians.

inquirer published it eight days later with the title Edsa I’s unsung heroes more heroic than defectors.   three days later i got an email from glenn tadiar, son of gen. tadiar, thanking me for the kind words and relating what happened to his father post-EDSA.   i asked if i could post his response in my blog and he said yes, but on second thought i suggested he send it first to the inquirer, they just might publish it, and i would post it then.   it’s been 16 days, and inquirer might never publish it – medyo di na uli uso ang EDSA stories — so here it is.   thanks again, glenn.

Dear Ms. Stuart-Santiago,

I would like to thank you for your kind words regarding my father”s actions in your letter that appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 09, 2011. Twenty five years ago on this date, my father was at our assigned quarters in Fort Bonifacio on the tenth or eleventh day of his house arrest, ordered by then General Ramos. His decision to not follow the orders given to him on the second day of the Edsa Revolution, the decision to not throw in his lot with the rebels, the decision to continue serving President Marcos in a defensive manner, the decision to order Col. Balbas back to Fort Bonifacio on the third day all must have sat heavily in his mind as he contemplated what appeared to be the end of his professional military career.

For me, it was heartbreaking to see him so but what solace or comfort could a 17 year old son offer him during those dark times? What followed was eight months of house arrest punctuated by investigations by the PCGG hatchet men due to my father’s perceived close ties with President Marcos. Did they find anything out of the ordinary? Apparently not for he was later on given a new posting as the Deputy Commander, Subic Naval Base Command in October. He knew deep down that his career was essentially over since this posting was a dead end in the AFP. One thing I love about him was, despite being given a basket of lemons, instead of being sour or bitter about it, he went on to make lemonade and enjoyed his six years at this post interacting with his counterparts in the US Armed Forces, playing regular golf games many times a week at the world class golf course in Binictican and looking out for the welfare of all those assigned to his command.

When he was promoted to Brigadier General in 1984, he was one of the youngest Generals in the AFP. By the time of his retirement in December 1992, he was one of the oldest Brigadier Generals having served the longest time “in grade”. If he had any bitterness or disappointment that many officers junior to him went on to higher positions and rank than himself, he did not show it but what man would not have a little something in his heart? One thing he could be proud of was that he was the only officer of flag rank promoted by Marcos to have survived the purges of the Aquino administration. They could find nothing.

Thank you again for pointing out something that most have already forgotten. My dad was a hero.

God bless you and yours.

Respectfully yours,

Glenn Tadiar

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?