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Retired officer recalls EDSA Revolution

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Retired Police Gen. Rey Velasco, the first commander of the famed Special Action Force, made public his memoirs as one of the co-authors of a book recounting the untold heroism of SAF troopers.

These were the troopers who risked their lives during the People Power Revolution in February 1986.

“To tell the story of EDSA and the Armed Forces and Police Special Action Force not from a spectator’s point of view, but from the key players themselves, the unsung heroes, the ones often unheard of,” Velasco wrote in the book “Silver Linings: The Continuing Saga of the 1986 People Power Revolution.”

Then Philippine Constabulary Gen. Fidel Ramos (right) gives instructions to then Col. Rey Velasco, commanding officer of  the Special Action Force who risked their lives during the People Power revolution in February 1986.

As co-author, Velasco wrote an elaborate detail of what the 500-man SAF troopers did to protect and defend Camp Crame, the headquarters of the defunct Philippine Constabulary and Integrated National Police or PC/INP, the predecessor of the Philippine National Police.

That was where the key players of the revolution—then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, and then Army Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan established the headquarters of rebel soldiers against the forces loyal to then President Ferdinand Marcos during the critical four-day peaceful revolution that ousted Marcos from power.

The four-day revolt that occurred on Feb. 22 to 25, 1986, mesmerized the world.

The other co-authors of the book are former Local Government Secretary Rafael M. Alunan III and Melandrew T. Velasco, a veteran journalist-publisher.

In the book Velasco, who now serves as MWSS Chairman, relates his story of the revolution that was covered live by the media, both local and foreign, and beamed throughout the world.

Velasco said the book “tells the story of EDSA and the Armed Forces and Police Action Force not from a spectator’s point of view but from the key players themselves, the unsung heroes, the ones often unheard of.

“I pride myself in being one of those often unseen, unrecognized good guys,” Velasco said.

“Being the first SAF commander was not easy. And with our baptism of fire being the 1986 EDSA evolution and the coup attempts that came after, being in my shoes was something that one would really think about for it was really a matter of life and death.”

Velasco cited former President Fidel V. Ramos for organizing the SAF when he was still the PC/INP chief.

It was also Ramos who formed the Special Forces of the Philippine Army and was its first commander.

The SAF and Special Forces are trained in urban and jungle fighting techniques, respectively.

One incident Velasco could not forget was when he and other SAF troopers were proceeding to Metro Manila from Cavite after Ramos told them to report to Camp Crame shortly before the EDSA revolt started on Feb. 22, 1986.

Velasco said they were riding aboard military vehicles and had to obey the traffic lights along the way, although they were in a hurry.

However, it was lucky that they managed to proceed smoothly as they passed many signal lights with the green light on, except when they were about to enter Camp Crame in Quezon City when they had to stop for a while because of the red signal.

Velasco said they arrived on time.

“I’m sure all of the other key players of EDSA and The members of the SAF in the earlier days feel as I do, in the same way that their accounts contributed in this book speak best of what we have experienced first-hand in our battles together,” Velasco said.

He was thankful to be given the opportunity to be the co-author of the book since “it’s not every day that one sees a book that digs deep into the very soul of a Filipino soldier like myself.

“I feel sheer joy that through Silver Linings, which spanks more than 50 years of Philippine history and governance, people can come to understand what it is that uniformed men like us really yearn for—it is not violence, not a country in ruins because of futile warfare.”


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