gringo and joe al, birds of the same feather?

i must confess to some surprise that, like juan ponce enrile’s, joe almonte’s memoir (february 2015) has turned out to be contentious, at least re EDSA, given senator gringo honasan’s instant “it’s a lie!” plus a two-part retort in the inquirer co-authored by fellow-RAM originals felix turingan and rex robles.

i haven’t read almonte’s, not having received a free copy, i’m obviously not on the list, lol, so what else is new.

but i did read enrile’s (september 2012), spent a thousand six hundred something bucks, only because i needed to check out his EDSA story asap, in case he had said anything new, para ihabol sa EDSA Uno the book (2013) na patapos ko na noon.  at buti na lang, dahil tinira niya ako, at si eggie apostol, nang bonggang bongga, at nakasagot ako.  si eggie naman ay ipinagtanggol ni butch hernandez (direktor ng worldwide foundation for people power noon, ng eggie apostol foundation ngayon) sa inquirer, in a 3-part rejoinder.  read resetting the record straight #edsa and eggie apostol laughed #enrilememoir.

siyempre noong mag-react si gringo, binalikan ko ang chronology ko.  ano na nga ba ang sabi ni alfred w. mccoy, the historian, tungkol sa planong pag-atake ng RAM sa palasyo?

Enrile would proclaim himself head of a ruling junta, the National Reconciliation Council, just after rebel troops assaulted the Palace at 2:00 AM February 23, capturing or killing Marcos.

capturing OR killing.  and, just as i remembered, it was about ver that the desired outcome was unequivocal.

At 2:00 AM of the 23rd of February, Sunday, Col. Honasan and his commandos, guided by carefully prepared maps and rebels in the Palace guard, would break into the presidential bedrooms of Malacañang Palace to arrest Marcos and his First Lady, Imelda. Simultaneously, Col. Kapunan’s force would set off a series of massive explosions near the Malacañang armories, signalling three rebel battalions to move in with reinforcements. The first and largest explosion was intended to assassinate General Fabian Ver who would be sleeping inside his home in nearby Malacañang Park.

so yes, kung RAM ako, ma-o-offend din ako.  at magugulat din kay marites danguilan vitug, almonte’s co-author, just as nagulat ako noon kay nelson navarro na nag-edit ng enrile memoir, kasi puwede namang mag-fact-check.  credibility can’t hinge on just who is making kuwento, lalo na kung may edad na, kahit pa kabilib-bilib siya.   kapag pa-historically-significant ang drama, at hindi sensational lang, serious research naman sana, kahit pang-endnotes lang, para significant talaga.

na-interview ko si general joe almonte back in 1991 when FVR was interested in my yet-unpublished chronology to buttress his first-ever account of the four days for his ED SA ’92 campaign.  that’s how i got to interview then defense secretary ramos, first in camp aguinaldo, then in alabang along with his wife ming and three of the kids and some neighbors, then back to camp aguinaldo for interviews with almonte and sonny razon.  natapos ko, at ihinahanda na ni nonoy marcelo ang cover at artwork for an early 1992 launch, ngunit subalit datapwat hindi natuloy, biglang di na type ni FVR.  hinala ko, nagalboroto ang kampo ni enrile.  but that’s another story.

two things i learned from that almonte interview.  one, that the core group of RAM wasn’t all enrile boys, there were ramos boys too, and ramos knew all about the  aborted coup plot set for feb 23, 2:00 a.m. (not feb 22, 12 midnight).  but saturday afternoon, he didn’t rush to  camp aguinaldo to join enrile right away only because, well,  he was busy, dialogue-ing, flirting, with coryistas who wanted to know why he hadn’t resigned yet, like sis letty, from the marcos government.

two, that almonte  wasn’t daw surprised by people power.

Jose Almonte: One of my principal assignments with Vic Batac concerned people power. We reviewed the many social movements in various countries in various periods, in particular, Ghandi’s work and peoples’ experiences in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. At one point I told Tingting Cojuangco na ang strategy against the soldiers of Marcos is to climb the tanks, kiss the soldiers, give them flowers. day1.htm

yes, ghandi.  even ninoy’s last message quoted ghandi on non-violence.  but in the almonte memoir, according to an inquirer editorial, Who owns EDSA, almonte cites his vietnam experience as the inspiration for people power.

He directly claims that his experience in Vietnam led to a no-casualty outcome in Edsa 1986. “The same principle eventually worked in People Power ’86, where we used it to ensure that there would be no casualties.” In fact, Edsa 1986 is best described as largely peaceful, because several died in the takeover of the government television station. And the animating spirit of active nonviolence behind People Power was definitely not learned from the Vietcong, but from the example of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

Above all, he revises history to claim that he knew exactly that People Power would be needed. “It was thus ideal for [Jaime] Cardinal Sin to immediately tell the people to converge where we were to show support.” But in fact the reason the people needed to support the breakaway military faction was because Marcos had found out about the plan, and arrested key participants. The RAM repaired first to Camp Aguinaldo and then to the much more defensible Camp Crame because it was making a last stand.

hay naku.  na kay cardinal sin pa rin.  how about credit where credit is due, like to butz aquino of the august twenty-one movement (ATOM) na unang nagtawag ng people to EDSA to shield the rebel military from marcos’s military might.  cardinal sin hemmed and hawed a while.  people were already marching by the time he got around to asking them, no ifs or buts, to support the rebels.  nothing immediate about it.  read EDSA Uno the book, pages 86, 88-89, 101.

as for gringo et al, i’m only glad they’re now talking about the coup plot that he and enrile denied all through the four days of EDSA and a long time after — enrile admitted to it only in 2000, honasan and kapunan only in 2011.  RAM should really write an EDSA book na, and do it better than enrile and almonte.


  1. Like the renegade Col Victor Corpuz who was a hachet man of Marcos in the left movement
    . Col Gringo and Gen. Almonte were the hatchet man of FVR in the military.. They can all be classified As social engineers with the same idealogues to counter anti-establishment/military activity..

    • gringo was always identified with enrile, not ramos. almonte with FVR, not enrile. nagkaisa ang dalawang kampo vs. marcos, but in cory’s time, they went their separate ways. enrile and gringo kept trying to take over from cory via coup, FVR took the conventional path and got to succeed cory.