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The fake news behind EDSA (1)

"The Aquino family has been the biggest beneficiary of People Power.  They were awarded two presidencies totaling 12 and a half years."


For the third year in a row, President Duterte has boycotted the celebration of EDSA People Power (EDSA for short). I think he hates People Power—or the artificiality of it. 

For the first time since 1987, Fidel V. Ramos did not show up at the EDSA celebration and make the ceremonial victory jump.   He was quite ill to come.

For the first time since 1987, Lt. Col Gringo Honasan, now a perennial senator, made a bitter remark about EDSA.  On Sunday, Feb. 24,2019, he asserted it was of the utmost importance to tell the true story of the February 1986 Revolution “to our most precious children, the next generation of citizens, why it happened and what it was for and against.” 

“We in the breakaway Reformist RAM, accelerators of historical events, the crucial  Military component of People Power, already spoke with decisive action 33 years ago,” the once-dashing rebellious army colonel said.  “We will not compete for attention with those who continue to distort facts and history, continue to claim credit and propriety ownership over what rightfully belongs to the Filipino People.”

One family that has usurped EDSA is the Cory Cojuangco Aquino family.  She proclaimed herself the revolutionary president of the Philippines after failing to defeat the strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the February 1986 snap election.  Then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and his RAM boys made the strategic mistake of declaring Cory the winner.  What followed were six and a half years of unprecedentedly incompetent rule (from February 1986 to June 30, 1992).  Cory died in August 2009.  By May 2010, a grieving nation elected Cory’s only son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, as president.  What a disaster Noynoy was as president.

Disgraced, former president BS Aquino tried during the 33rd anniversary of EDSA this year to spin the EDSA legacy to push for his Otso Diretso senatorial candidates.  

The irony is because the eight otherwise qualified senatorial aspirants, none of them, except for Mar Roxas, have a chance to win, thanks to Noynoy’s forgettable presidency.   Noynoy destroyed the Aquino brand in politics.  So damaged is the brand that an otherwise decent and purposeful senator, his cousin, Bam Aquino, won’t probably be reelected.

The Cojuangco-Aquino family of BS Aquino III had appropriated Edsa People Power as if it were their brand, their franchise, their business. Truth to tell, Cory had very little role, if any, at EDSA.  She was so afraid of snipers that there is no known photograph of her waving at the crowds at EDSA.

Cory was in Cebu hiding in a convent during the first and most dangerous night of People Power, on Feb. 22, 1986.   Her son, Noynoy,  was too engrossed with many other things to have participated, too.  I was at People Power I as a foreign correspondent.

The Aquino family has been the biggest beneficiary of People Power.  They were awarded two presidencies totaling 12 and a half years, more than enough compensation for what opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. did in his political lifetime, which was to heckle and needle Marcos during 17 of his 20-year presidency.  Ninoy died from a military bullet in August 1983.  And what did the people get for having two Aquino presidents? It was a bad deal.

The Aquino-Cojuangco family has no more right to claim Edsa as theirs than every Filipino, you and I. Their Edsa failed us, the people.

On the first day of Edsa I, Feb. 22, 1986, I was lucky to be both in Cebu, for Cory’s civil disobedience afternoon rally, and Manila, for the first night of Enrile’s breakaway coup. Enrile had no troops, just about two dozen RAM soldiers.  His shock troops were us, foreign correspondents, numbering about 40.

Not many people know it but Edsa I was triggered by greed and was won by a lie. The crowds that massed on Edsa on Feb. 24, 1986, Monday, and Feb. 25, Tuesday, were there not to stage a revolt but to hold a picnic. 

June Keithley had announced on radio at 7 a.m. of Feb. 24, 1986  that the Marcoses had left. It was a lie. In their glee and feeling that finally it was all over, people trooped to Edsa to celebrate.

The greed arose from a Chinese forex trader who violated the peso-dollar trading band imposed by the then unofficial central bank, the Binondo Central Bank managed and headed by then Trade and Industry Secretary Roberto V. Ongpin. 

Ongpin had the erring trader arrested and loaded into a van.  

Unfortunately, the forex trader died. Unfortunately again, the trader happened to be a man of then-Armed Forces chief Fabian C. Ver. Angered, the dreaded military chief had 22 of Ongpin’s security men arrested.  They were marching in full battle gear and dressed in SWAT uniform at about 4 a.m. inside Fort Bonifacio when arrested on Feb. 22, 1986, a Saturday.

At 11 a.m., at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ongpin went looking for his security men.  He called up then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile who was with the Club 365 at the Atrium in Makati.  Enrile thought the arrest of the 22 Ongpin security men, who turned out to be RAM Boys of Colonel Honasan, was part of the crackdown against the plot to oust Marcos.

The putsch was being planned by Enrile and his RAM Boys.  The defense chief had grown disenchanted with Marcos, who was very ill following a botched kidney transplant three years earlier.  

JPE had become wary of the palace cabal led by Ver and the First Lady, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

Enrile summoned his boys to his house on Morado Street, Dasmariñas Village.   There they plotted their next moves.  They decided to make a last stand at the armed forces headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. 

At 2 p.m., Enrile called then Vice Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos.  “Are you with us?” JPE asked Eddie. “I am with you all the way,” FVR assured.

More tomorrow.

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Topics: Tony Lopez , EDSA People Power
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