day two of EDSA, the 23rd of february, was the day we surprised ourselves, and the world, with People Power.
that sunday morning the people came streaming in to edsa in the tens of thousands, prepared to stay the whole day or longer, prepared to act as human shields and protect the small rebel forces from the military might of marcos. the enrile-ramos campaign had worked, the people were offering support, except that it was obviously a conditional kind, as they were wearing cory’s yellow colors and chanting cory’s name.
earlier that morning general ramos, who had moved back to camp crame headquarters across the highway (his turf as chief of the pc and integrated national police) had jogged to aguinaldo. because defections were not pouring in, he suggested that enrile and his reformists consolidate forces with him in crame, which was smaller and easier to defend. but the reformists were not hot about it; anyway there was no immediate threat. or, why not the other way around, that is, ramos could move his forces to aguinaldo.
but as the sun rose to its zenith things started coming to a head. in cebu cory faced the press and called for marcos to resign, before flying back to manila. in fort bonifacio the marines who had to be pulled out of the palace were finally gathering and preparing for the assault on the edsa camps under the command of general artemio tadiar.
at 12 noon marcos was on tv again, scoffing at demands that he resign. he also presented two more soldiers who confessed to being part of the coup plot led by the reformist forces of enrile and ramos.
at 1:30 p.m. while marcos was still facing the press, saying that the presence of a large number of civilians outside the camps did not bother him at all, ver finally ordered the marines to move out and head for edsa.
at 2:00 p.m. enrile prepared to move out of the defense ministry in camp aguinaldo.
at 2:15 p.m. the 1st Marine Provisional Division finally jumped off fort bonifacio with tadiar in the lead vehicle. it was a formidable column, spearheaded by armor. witnesses counted 6 (others say 7) tanks, 10 APC’s, 8 jeeps, and 13 six-by-six trucks. the column rolled through forbes road and turned right into EDSA.
at 2:20 p.m. cory’s plane landed in manila.
at 2:24 p.m. enrile and his men moved out of camp aguinaldo in tight formation. the sea of people parted to let them pass, linked arms to create a protective wall to shield them from snipers.
at 2:47 tanks were sighted along guadalupe rolling towards the camps. cory saw them, too. she was on edsa on the way to wackwack; her car moved alongside the tanks.
the crowds outside the rebel camps had grown from 500 at dawn (a lot of people had gone home to get some sleep) to over 500,000 by mid-afternoon.
as enrile crossed the highway to camp crame, the people were stopping tadiar’s tanks at the ortigas intersection. the high point of the uprising – synchronously significant events.
by abandoning aguinaldo and joining forces with ramos in crame, enrile betrayed the weakness of his position. it was an admission that he needed ramos more than ramos needed him, and, worse, it put him in no position to further pursue the presidency, which point must have been painfully driven home when he saw for himself how yellow the crowds were.
when the unarmed crowds stopped the tanks in that awesome display of people power, it sent the message loud and clear that the marcos regime was moribund and it was time for cory and enrile to get their act together and finish marcos off. easier said than done. cory was cold to the prospect of reconciliation — enrile was ninoy’s jailer. for his part, enrile considered himself more qualified for the presidency than an ordinary housewife.
that evening, doy laurel, just back from a meeting with enrile and ramos in crame, told cory of their proposal to set up a military-civilian junta. cory would be among the civilians along with cecilia munoz palma and senator lorenzo tananda. cory was cold to the idea. a junta arrangement presupposed military leadership. why should she allow herself to be sidelined when she had won the votes of ten million pinoys and enrile had not.
cory did not go public with any of this; rather, she continued to express support for the rebels on the airwaves. but behind the scenes, she sent a message, summoning enrile and ramos to wackwack. feeling and acting president na siya.
siyempre hindi magkasabay dumating ang dalawang bandido. they couldn’t both be gone from crame while there was a threat of an impending attack.
clearly, cory and enrile could behave no less grandly than the people who had risked and continued to risk life and limb to protect enrile in the name of cory. the two simply had to rise to the occasion and transcend personal interests. andso they did, if temporarily. cory rose above her resentment of the military, enrile rose above his ambition to become president, and space was created where the two could face each other without rancor, work out a deal acceptable to both, and join hands in a higher, common, cause.
in short, cory and enrile reconciled their differences for the sake of the nation, and not by butting heads but through creative negotiation. no doubt enrile came to the table with certain demands in exchange for his support. such as, surely, an end to the boycott of crony businesses, and, i’d bet, immunity from suit.
as for ramos, who knows what he asked for. possibly, cory’s annointment in the ’92 presidential elections.
check out www.stuartxchange.com [publications] for sources/documentation.