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The Anatomy of Loyalty
By Edward R. Kiunisala
August 27, 1988–WHEN word reached them that Malacañang was under attack, they both jumped out of bed, made a few quick phone calls and, assured of the President’s safety, decided to report to the besieged Palace in that unholy pre-dawn hour. Bound by a common commitment and loyalty, two different persons, acting independently of each other, came up with the identical response and decision at a time of grave national crisis.
On their separate routes, unmindful of the risks involved, each went out to check up on government facilities and to monitor what was going on. Before daybreak, they were at their respective desks in Malacañang, carrying out the orders of the President.
Beyond the Call of Duty
They could have opted to play it safe, to discharge their duties by remote control: they chose to be where their leader was. Their response to the national emergency was above and beyond the call of duty. It was no gung-ho, derring-do feat; they acted simply from an unwavering sense of duty.
Of the 24 Cabinet members, only Joker Arroyo and Teodoro Locsin, Jr., were at the side of the embattled President during the most crucial moments of the bloody August 28 Honasan mutiny. National Defense Secretary Rafael Ileto could not be reached during the early hours of the coup. Other Cabinet members, called to an emergency meeting at 5:00 a.m., could not come.
“We die at our post,” said Arroyo.
Worse, the hotline to the Armed Forces chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos, who had earlier rushed to Camp Crame, was dead. Meanwhile, rebel forces had already penetrated Camp Aguinaldo and Villamor Airbase and taken over two television stations, Channels 9 and 13, while surrounding Channels 2 and 4. Rebels were reported to have also taken over the military camps in Pampanga, Legaspi City and Cebu.
In Metro Manila CAPCOM forces simply remained in their barracks, awaiting orders from high military command which had been immobilized by Honasan forces in Camp Aguinaldo. But for the timely arrival in Malacañang of a combat-ready brigade of marines and the prompt mobilization of the Manila police under General Alfredo Lim, the situation in the capital region looked bleak. The rebel forces seemed to have the upper hand.
Although the President had gone on the air early on to assure everyone that the government was on top of the situation, the people remained worried, especially when Channels 2 and 4 suddenly went off the air. The people’s apprehension heightened when Honasan himself cockily fielded questions from media even as the rebel-held Channel 13 telecast rebels’ claims of sure victory.
Some radio broadcasters readily sided with Honasan as they painted a grim picture of the government under siege.
Crush the Coup!
Another would have already capitulated or fled. But in her 18-month-old regime, Cory had seen enough of military mutinies and coup attempts—four, to be exact,—to be easily intimidated by another one. Determined to stay in Malacañang at all cost she assumed total command with only Arroyo and Locsin serving as her adjutants. Her iron will surfaced in the decision to crush the coup at once.
It was no impulsive judgement, but she had learned from the lessons of the February Revolution. Cory wanted to avoid the two big mistakes that led to the quick downfall of Marcos: loss of will to act immediately; and desertion of his post. The so-called “most decorated Filipino soldier of World War II” lost the biggest battle of his life because of failure of nerve.
President Aquino’s nerve didn’t fail her in the bloodiest ordeal of her 18-month-old administration. She knew that protracted negotiation could touch off an avalanche of defection. Her strategy was to bring the situation to a head, knowing as she did that the main bulk of the military, by training and tradition, would remain loyal to the flag unless forced by circumstances to defect.
Thus when Locsin motored to the “battle zone” to establish a direct line between Camp Aguinaldo and Malacañang, he knew exactly what to do: convey to the Chief-of-Staff the President’s orders as clearly and emphatically as possible. The rebels, led by Colonel Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, in Camp Aguinaldo, were to be crushed pronto! The President herself, in a telephone connection arranged by Locsin, verbally confirmed the order to General Ramos.
When the execution of the Malacañang order got delayed, Locsin minced no words: time was of the essence! A professional soldier, Ramos probably didn’t want to go half-cocked, knowing he didn’t have sufficient back-up troops to sustain an all-out attack. He might have even doubted that the soldiers around him would obey his order to attack the rebels they considered their brothers-in-arms.
But Locsin was only too well aware of the consequences of inaction and delay. Time was on the side of the rebels. Inaction could be taken as weakness, a situation that could trigger mass defection to the side perceived to be winning. He feared that if the government military forces held their fire longer, Honasan would gain more adherents—even from Camp Crame itself. Smelling defection, Locsin could only shake his head, muttering aloud to himself, “Somebody is going to get demoted for this.”
There were other instances that caused Locsin’s blood pressure to shoot up. One such case concerned five Metro Manila radio stations which aired materials that, in Locsin’s view, constituted a clear case of treasonous disinformation. The presidential counsel contacted the National Telecommunications Commission to get those stations off the air. The commission immediately complied, except in the case of DZRH, which it allowed to continue operating upon the intercession allegedly of Sen. Agapito “Butz” Aquino and National Press Club president Art Borjal.
But what really raised Locsin’s hackles was the case of Channel 13, which had been seized by rebel forces, along with Channel 9. Locsin wanted the military to retake both stations or knock off their transmitters to prevent the rebels from telecasting anti-government stuff. What the military did was cut off the Meralco power supply of those two channels—forgetting that they had back-up generators.
What Locsin feared, happened. Channel 13 went on the air, showing in portrait fashion a group of rebels in full battle gear, with their spokesman, a certain Lieutenant Mendoza, claiming widespread military support and predicting final victory before the end of that day. Worse, Channel 7, left unmolested by the rebels, took it upon itself to tape the rebel telecast and to replay it immediately, giving the impression that the Honasan forces were in control.
The presidential counsel hit the roof. He picked up a telephone and asked for the Presidential Security Group. Within earshot of General Ramos and other high-ranking military officers, he told the other end of the line to get “some of your people” to bomb Channel 13 “because nothing is moving from this end.” That form of reverse psychology worked. The military eventually managed to put Channel 13 off the air—without having to bomb it.
If Channel 13 remained in rebel hands and continued to air pro-Honasan propaganda, the government would have found itself in great trouble. It would have caused more confusion not only in the military but also among the public, and created a bandwagon effect in favor of the Honasan mutiny. During the February Revolution, control of television stations by the anti-Marcos forces was vital in demoralizing the Marcos camp, loosening his grip on power.
Key Word: Action
In this light, Locsin’s publicly perceived impetuosity vis-à-vis the Channel 13 case was only a logical reaction to a clear and present danger to the Republic. Although it meant sailing too close to the wind, it helped preserve the integrity of the State. It would be plain stupid just to wait and be clobbered by one’s enemies without hitting back.
If the nation is to survive, it must be ready to use all means available to protect itself. It cannot afford to be negligent, squeamish or wishy-washy. That is the natural law of survival and those who ignore it will live to regret it, if they live at all. The iron rule in emergency situations, according to Henry Kissinger, is: “Whatever must happen ultimately should happen immediately.” The key word is action.
That is the message of the Locsin behavior, which some media practitioners and professional critics completely missed. It is the message that Arroyo wanted to underscore when he wondered aloud why it took the military about 16 hours to quell the mutiny of a small band of rebels. Like Locsin, Arroyo was bothered by the military’s hesitation to obey the Commander-in-Chief’s order to attack.
The roles that Arroyo and Locsin played that August 28 became Metro Manila’s liveliest conversation piece for quite some time. While they eventually reaped more praise than criticism, their detractors obtained more mileage, coming as they did from the more influential and vociferous gentry, which included prelates, politicians, press people, businessmen and some members of the military. It was a masterfully orchestrated propaganda blitz to discredit the two whose no-nonsense, abrasive style had kept the hyenas, jackals and wolves away from the doors of Malacañang.
Arroyo and Locsin, who had stuck it out with the President, were being made to appear like heels, while the rebels who wanted to grab power, killing and wounding hundreds, were hailed as heroes. For obeying the President, they were charged with interfering in military operations, as if the Commander-in-Chief had no right to tell the military what to do.
Lamented Arroyo: “We should have rejoiced after winning, but suddenly, Teddyboy and myself were being treated like Gringo, as if we did the damage.”
In an appearance before a jampacked Congress, Arroyo brilliantly defended his and Locsin’s action during the Honasan coup as he put his critics to shame for wanting “to make decisions for us.” Then he started dropping bombs. To an overwhelmingly appreciative gallery, Arroyo and Locsin were heroes of the hour. It was Arroyo’s finest hour as he scored the greatest political performance of his life.
The first targets were three businessmen linked with the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference. Arroyo charged the trio with “treason of the highest order,” as he damned businessmen who wanted to take advantage of the country’s financial conditions to gain more economic power.
Arroyo then went on to deal with Vice President Salvador Laurel, Finance Secretary Jaime Ongpin and AFP spokesman Col. Honesto Isleta. He accused Laurel of “fomenting” trouble in the military, blamed Ongpin for the Planters Products fiasco, and dubbed Isleta as the Goebbels of the military establishment. Arroyo minced no words.
During interpellation, Arroyo took on a number of congressmen who wanted to test his mettle. One by one they fell as he demolished them by sheer force of logic. But that was to be Arroyo’s valedictory. The President accepted his resignation, along with Locsin’s, Ongpin’s and Laurel’s. Like a good soldier, Arroyo was ready to go.
But while the President accepted the resignations of Laurel and Ongpin with no more than a courtesy “regret,” she praised Arroyo to the skies and retained the services of Locsin as consultant, not to mention chief speechwriter. To let go of a long-time friend and defender must have been extremely difficult decision for the President to make but it had to be made in the interest of unity of the Cabinet.
The Green-eyed Monster
The enemies of Arroyo and Locsin did not surface all at one time. Some had been friends and allies in the struggle against the dictatorship. But somehow things changed right after Cory Aquino assumed power, especially after Arroyo and Locsin emerged as her closest advisers. But what really got some people angry with Arroyo and Locsin was that they were beyond manipulation or corruption.
There were other reasons that fueled the antagonism of their enemies: 1) envy; 2) differences in political perceptions; 3) variance in ethical principles; 4) contrast in styles. While some of the causes were peripheral, others were too fundamental to be glossed over. They touched the very basic issue of quality in the public service.
But first, let’s discuss cause number one: envy, the most common wrecker of human relations. Envy is the resentment one feels because someone else possesses or has achieved what one wishes to possess to have achieved.
In the case of Arroyo and Locsin, they were perceived to posses, or to have achieved, something enviable: the President’s respect and admiration and the distinction of being considered her closest advisers. No other Cabinet member enjoyed such rapport with the President.
More than rapport, Arroyo and Locsin also had the full trust and confidence of the President, who reportedly gave more weight to their counsel than to that of others. What’s more, they wielded not only the powers inherent in their offices but also those delegated by the President. In her foreign travels, she would bring Locsin along with her to top-level conferences not accessible to other Cabinet members, while leaving Arroyo behind to take charge of the government in her absence.
One of the saddest things about envy, says Karl Olsson, a noted thinker, is its smallness. To be envious, he points out, is to turn eternally like a caged rat within the tight radius of malice, an evil intent to injure others. Olsson believes that the biggest obstruction to a successful team effort is envy.
Now to the basic differences in political perceptions. Arroyo and Locsin, though highly politicized, are non-politicians. They owed no allegiance to any political party and entertained no ambitions to any elective office. They seemed obsessed with the idea of restoring politics as the science of good government, not as an art of plotting and scheming and wheeling and dealing for personal power, glory and fortune.
While Arroyo, a human rights lawyer, is considered a leftist, and Locsin, a corporate lawyer, is believed to be a rightist, they are really both within the centrist fold.
They are intense believers in republicanism, while harboring deep-seated distrust of militarism, a condition that led many to suspect that they were anti-military. As technocrats, they were drawn to problems and issues rather than to rankings and personalities. They belonged to that rare breed of public servants who go about their tasks without fear, favor or fanfare. Playing ball with power brokers, influence peddlers and get-rich-quick schemers violated their sense of honor.
They were, therefore, both an enigma and an obstruction to traditional politicians.
Then there is the variance of ethical principles. The norms of political conduct of Arroyo and Locsin vary from those of traditional politicians. The duo embrace an ethic founded on the Fourth Commandment: Thou shalt not steal. With emphasis on the value of honesty, probity and integrity, they eschew the politics of accommodation as demonstrated in the common practice of scratching one another’s back.
Despite tremendous temptations that came with their territory, they remained upright and incorruptible in office. No one could accuse them of hanky-panky in the 18 months that they held power. While graft and corruption continued to bedevil the Aquino administration, they succeeded in keeping their noses clean. Honesty is the best policy; it is also, a dangerous policy. It is discouraging to think, says Noel Coward, how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. So rare a commodity is honesty that people don’t easily believe it even if it’s staring them in the face.
At work, such people as Arroyo and Locsin are not usually fun to be with. They look for perfection in others as they demand it from themselves. Worse, they are not likely to hide their feelings or sweeten their language. Popularity means little to them. Consequently, they are often perceived as arrogant, discourteous, belligerent.
Thus, when Senator Ernesto Maceda and Congressman Emigdio Tanjuatco took the Cabinet to task, making a dig at Arroyo and Locsin, the latter promptly countered by telling the two solons “to keep their sticky fingers to themselves.” Arroyo hit back by describing some congressmen as “the best argument for birth control.”
To demagogues, such a style is outrageous because it leaves very little room for bargaining, the principal source of political power. The politician is powerful because of his role as patron of his bailiwick, the dispenser of largesse, like contracts, jobs, franchises, permits, grants, etc. If he loses his bargaining power, he loses his hold on his followers.
Honest officials are naturally on a collision course with some traditional politicians. Honesty, sincerity and uprightness in public service pose a real threat to demagoguery. But honest public officials, of course, constitute only a small minority in the government.
Said Shakespeare: “To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one picked out of ten thousand.”
Although they had done their duty as best they could, Arroyo and Locsin knew that “as this world goes,” their services were expendable, that in the business of running a government, choices are not limited to black and white, but include many shades of color in-between. Their loyalty to the President was unequivocal: They trusted her as much as she trusted them. When the President finally made her decision, Arroyo and Locsin understood.
What’s with Doy?
Only a heartbeat away from the Presidency, the Vice-President is disliked if not despised by the press which either damns him outright or damns itself by silence over his questionable acts. Worse, even his friends . . .
October 3, 1987–YET he had yielded in favor of Cory as presidential candidate of the opposition then and agreed to be second to her. The Presidency had been Doy’s life ambition. His father was President, albeit only by appointment by the Japanese invaders in World War II, and faced trial for treasonable collaboration with the enemy after the war. (Together with Claro M. Recto, who had served as secretary of foreign affairs, and Benigno Aquino, Sr., who was Speaker in the made-in-Japan government.) Lorenzo Tañada headed the People’s Court that would have tried them — but for the grant of amnesty by then Pres. Manuel Roxas. Laurel Sr. went on to run for President against then Pres. Elpidio Quirino and would have won and been a truly elected President of the Republic if he had not been so grossly cheated in that 1949 election by the First Great Ilocano’s political gang.
What his father was cheated of, Doy would win and be President — despite the predictable resort by the Worst Ilocano to mass vote-buying (with billions from the Jobo-headed Central Bank) plus fraud (with his Commission on Fake Elections) and, of course, plain terrorism — as events bloodily proved. He, Doy, should be the opposition’s presidential candidate, not Cory, a “mere housewife”. Didn’t his UNIDO pit candidates for the Batasan against the Dictator’s candidates and win — yes, not many seats but at least some? Pit a politician against a politician.
But all but Doy — at least initially—could see that he could not win against Marcos. He was the “ideal” candidate of the opposition as far as the Dictator was concerned. He could lick Doy—even in a clean election, he was assured — by his cohorts and himself. In the end, sense prevailed and Doy agreed to run for Vice-President to Cory’s President. And won with her.
Or, to be precise, lost with her. Marcos was proclaimed duly reelected President and his runningmate, Arturo Tolentino, elected Vice President, after a scandalously false count of votes by his Commission on Fake Elections, by the bats (political birds that flew in the night) in his Batasan. Marcos was still President — under his fake Constitution. (One never approved by the people in a plebiscite as it provides before it could become The Law.) Under that charter — under which Cory and Doy had run — they had both lost.
But they won just the same after the People Revolution of Cory’s faithful proclaimed her the truly elected President of the Philippines — and Doy the Vice-President. It was not by virtue of Marcos’s Constitution that Cory assumed the Presidency and Doy the Vice-Presidency but by the Will of the People. As expressed in an unprecedented revolution — one not stained by blood.
And that Will was expressed again in the February plebiscite that ratified her Constitution—replacing the Freedom Constitution which was also hers. More than two-thirds of the electorate voted for the charter, not because they had read it — most did not bother — but because it was hers. And the Will was reaffirmed in the May congressional election in which 22 out of 24 senatorial candidates came out as winners — mainly because they were her candidates. Most of the voters did not know most of the winning senatorial candidates administration from Adam. One won despite what people knew or thought of him — because he was Cory’s candidate.
Corazon C. Aquino is the elected President of the Philippines and Salvador Laurel the Vice President — by the Will of the Filipino People, not by virtue of the Marcos fake Constitution but by the People Power revolution and the overwhelming reaffirmation of confidence in her presidency in the February plebiscite and May election this year.
For his political collaboration with Cory, Doy was rewarded with the position of premier, which went out of existence with the Batasan under the Freedom Constitution, and secretary of foreign affairs. Under the American system, the Vice-President is just a spare tire. He’s nobody until the President dies, naturally or by assassination, or becomes incompetent to discharge the duties of his office—or impeached, as Nixon nearly was because of Watergate, saving himself from that shameful rejection through resignation. Leaving with his tail between his hind legs, as then American President Johnson said the United States would never do in Vietnam. A terrific musical comedy of Pre-World War II vintage, Of Thee I Sing, with words and music by George and Ira Gershwin, had a bewildered man as Vice-President of the United States or candidate for that position. He didn’t want it. Maybe he was a nobody, but he did not want it to be made official. As it was, nobody could remember his name.
“Of thee I sing, baby . . .” went the song, but how could anybody sing the Vice-Presidential bet’s name if nobody knew it? Who he?
To compensate the American Vice-President for his sorry but expectant position in political life, he is designated presiding officer of the Senate, rescuing him from total anonymity. Such is George Bush, who has proven his fitness for removal from public memory by hailing Marcos’s “devotion to democratic principles” or such bull as that.
Not Made in Heaven
In the case of Doy, what now? That his political union with Cory was not made in heaven — of political ideas and principles — was made clear soon enough with his demand to be “parallel” President with her. He was elected as substitute if she died or was incapacitated, not co-equal. But Doy wanted to be President, of only on a half-and-half basis. Nothing doing, Cory soon made it clear to Doy.
Must Doy then wait for five years, until the 1992 presidential election, before he could be President? Sure, Cory has said she did not want reelection, and the new Constitution appears to ban that, but what if a million or more signatures were gathered calling for amendment of the charter to allow her to run for reelection? Even if she retired wearily into private life, could Doy be certain he would have her support in the presidential election? Would he be her candidate? How about the other presidential hopefuls in the ruling party she might like more than Doy? Does she like him more than any of the others? Why like him — after all the trouble or problem he has been causing her.
If Doy ran for President five years from now, how many would vote for him? The political field would be divided how many ways? Doy’s UNIDO would just be “one of those things” — those political things. And if Cory were to come out in support of a candidate other than Doy . . .
Cory has said nothing in the least derogatory to Doy. But the press has been giving him hell, not only righteously but with enjoyment, one gets the feeling. It is having fun with him — as he goes on making, in its opinion, a fool of himself.
When Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo was invited to speak before the House of Representatives on the political situation after the August 28 attack by AFP renegades on the government — a nearly successful one — Malaya headlined the Arroyo address thus:
“ARROYO HITS LAUREL, 3 TOP BUSINESSMEN
“Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo yesterday accused Vice-President Salvador H. Laurel and three prominent businessmen of destabilizing the Aquino government as he denied charges that he and Presidential Counsel Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. meddled in military operations during the failed Aug. 28 coup.”
How was Doy destabilizing, or trying to destabilize, the Aquino government? What would he have gained by it if he had succeeded?
Business World’s Ninez Cacho-Olivares, whose Cup of Tea has never been Doy, not even before the 1986 presidential and vice-presidential election, recalling then the long past services to Marcos of Doy and his brother Pepito and his father who got Marcos off the hook when he was tried for murder of his father’s political rival — Doy’s most dedicated nemesis in the press had this to say about Doy’s latest act:
“Irresponsibility at Its Height
“Vice-President Salvador ‘Doy’ Laurel has belly-ached many a time to the media that he is being bypassed or that he is being ignored by Malacañang. The general perception is that he is ‘out’ of the decision-making process in the Guest House.
“And, indeed, in many instances, it does seem — as far as media reports go — that the President generally ignores her Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“But I know of no one who disapproves of the attitude the Palace officials have displayed towards Mr. Laurel. One even appreciates that Palace attitude, for Mr. Laurel has proven, through his recent actuations, to be an utterly irresponsible public official.
“Mr. Laurel was highly visible after the aborted coup, and has engaged in dialogs with officers and men of the AFP. He told all and sundry that he has been authorized by the President to hold dealings with the military to assess the soldiers’ grievances and complaints. Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo confirmed this, however, he pointed out that Mr. Laurel has not been authorized by the President to create a wedge between the military and the civilian government.
“And that is precisely what Mr. Laurel has done through the set of questions he posed before the soldiers. He added fuel to the fire when he asked the soldiers whether they wanted Arroyo and Locsin out of the Cabinet. He displays the height of irresponsibility when he, as the second highest official in the land, asks soldiers the question, ‘Should we remove the Communists in the government?’
“And for all his outrageous actuation, he reportedly said, ‘It is better to allow them to shout than to shoot,’ adding his dealings are very positive steps in addressing the grievances of soldiers. ‘It has helped to defuse an otherwise tense situation. This is because our soldiers have been made to feel that the Government is willing to listen to their grievances and to act on those that are legitimate and reasonable.’
“With a Vice-President like that, I dread the thought of his ever succeeding the President. What he had done, in my opinion, was to allow the soldiers who have been fed the disinformation that there are Communists in the Aquino Government to call the shots on the matter. The question presupposes that there are Communists in the Aquino Government and this smacks not only of irresponsibility but of malice. He has done the Aquino Government a disservice and really should be shown the door for his misdeed. It is evident that he wants certain Cabinet officials out, and he used that opportunity to boost the demand to oust these Cabinet officials and in the process, he succeeded in driving a deeper wedge between the military and the civilian government.
“Obviously, Vice-President Laurel was playing up to the soldiers and engaging in the same game Juan Ponce-Enrile played. He wanted to add fire to the anti-Communist hysteria being fanned by the mutineers and, at the same time, be identified as the soldiers’ defender and ally. But at whose expense? The President’s? The Government’s?
“The Vice-President was given a job to do by the President. He botched it, and he deserves to be out.”
And here is a Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial — with cartoon yet:
“What is Laurel Really Up To?
“On Aug. 27 ranking officials of the so-called defense establishment and Vice-President Laurel met behind closed doors for two hours at the latter’s office. When they emerged out from that gathering, Defense Secretary Rafael Ileto, AFP chief of Staff Gen. Fidel Ramos, vice-chief of staff Lt. Gen. Renato de Villa and an official of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, refused to answer questions raised by reporters at the scene. For his part, the Vice-President said that he had merely been given a briefing on the peace and order situation.
“The day before that closed-door meeting, a widely successful protest against raised fuel prices had been staged. On that Thursday itself, the mass arrest of leaders of militant union and transport workers was underway. Conservative politicians and their reactionary spokesmen in media were agitating for even more draconian measures and a more thorough crackdown on ‘leftists.’ Reporters who caught the defense officials emerging out of Mr. Laurel’s office could not help suspect that something was afoot. Several hours later, Gregorio Honasan launched his bloody venture to unseat, if not actually murder, President Aquino.
“As the mutiny was in progress, nothing was heard from Mr. Laurel — highly uncharacteristic of a public figure who almost always has something to say about anything. Throughout that Friday morning foreigners, presumably Americans, were seen going in and out of his house. It was only in the afternoon, when the tide had turned clearly in the favor of the government, that the Vice-President became accessible and joined the indignant chorus of ruling-coalition politicians condemning the military rebellion. In the days that followed, Mr. Laurel would also join other conservatives both in and out of government in pressing Malacañang to look into the ‘causes’ of the rebellion. And as far as they were concerned these causes were the low pay of the soldiery and allegedly Communist advisers surrounding Mrs. Aquino. Strangely few of them demanded justice for the innocent victims of the rebellion. What in effect these conservatives were demanding was for the Aquino administration to give in to the mutineers’ demands — the very same demands that were delivered through the barrel of the gun.
“Over the past few days, Mr. Laurel has been making the rounds of military camps throughout the islands on a purported mission of ‘dialog’ (a much abused term, which as currently used, has no exact definition) with AFP servicemen. But from what we have been able to gather, the Vice-President has in fact only succeeded in agitating further the already restive soldiers. So what is Mr. Laurel really up to?
“Evidently, the Vice-President has some serious explaining to do, not only to his immediate superior, the President, but also to the people. His puzzling behavior immediately before, during and after the Aug. 28 mutiny has led observers to suspect that he is more involved in recent developments than he would care to make the public believe. Moreover, Mr. Laurel’s much-publicized links to an ultra-rightist international organization of modern-day witch hunters has not allayed the growing misgivings about him.”
And here is Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Hilarion M. Henares, Jr., who claims to be a friend of Doy’s, with the most searing indictment of his “friend”, making the enemies almost friendly:
“Sadly, Sadly . . . What Are We to Do With You, Doy?
“What’s wrong with this guy Doy Laurel?
“Volunteering to ‘survey’ the feelings of the Armed Forces, he harangues them with pointed leading questions—Do you want Cory to fire Joker? Teddyboy? Noel Soriano? Do you favor amnesty for Honasan?
“He never asked: Do you want Cory to fire Doy?
“He did this once before, you know, riding in on people’s pent-up emotions to promote his obvious ambitions for the presidency.
“Last year, in the reconciliation meeting between President Cory and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Doy Laurel spoke out of turn, saying that the only way to achieve reconciliation is to acquiesce in a ‘previous top level meeting’ — get rid of three Cabinet members, Aquilino Pimentel, Bobbit Sanchez and Joker Arroyo.
“Cardinal Sin denied he ever made such demands, and went into his chapel to pray for the soul of a fool.
“Ambassador Bosworth maintained a pained and stony silence, and wished he could stuff his shoes into the mouth of a fool.
“Doy Laurel just felt foolish.
“These days, the fool is ever the fool, a louse as he ever was.
“I have mutual friends with Doy than most people I know. I genuinely respect his father and brothers. In La Salle, he was the classmate of Ronnie Velasco, my brother, and many others—a class of machos where Doy is acknowledged to be the fastest with the mostest.
“If brother Teddy, the meanest cock in the Henares coop, takes his hat off to Doy, then Doy is IT, better than that high-spending tourist Tony Gonzalez.
“I asked our mutual friends, most of whom grew up with Doy, Will you vote for Doy? Silence and a vigorous shaking of the head.
“Why not? Silence and a shrug of the shoulder.
“Is Doy a thief, a crook? No . . .
“Is he ugly, repugnant, abominable? No . . .
“Is Doy an unmitigated liar? Not really . . .
“Is Doy a hypocrite, a scoundrel, a con-man? No . . .
“His smile that looks halfway between a snarl and a smirk? No, that’s the problem of his dentures . . .
“Then why wouldn’t you vote for him? I do not know . . . but I will be damned if I will vote for him.
“Now that is the eternal dilemma of Doy. If he only knew why his friends won’t vote for him, then perhaps he can do something about it.
“But he does not know, nobody knows, and that’s his problem.
“Well, I know the reason why, Doy. You have been a special study of mine for the last two years, and I know. And being your friend, I will tell you.
“I ran for the Senate at the same time you and Ninoy Aquino did. I lost while you and Ninoy won. Our mutual friends voted for you then, even if you were on the side of Marcos. You were terrific in the Senate, Doy, you were nationalistic . . . you exposed the secret protocols Carlos Romulo signed with the American ambassador.
“When I was chairman of the National Economic Council, I was approving all proposals of American firms for US guarantees against political risk in the Philippines. Imagine my chagrin when you exposed a secret agreement that bound the Philippine government to compensate the US government for losses arising from political risk! That Romulo!
“I admired you for that, Doy. You were okay, just like your papa and cuyas.
“Even during martial law, still allied with Marcos, at least you and your brothers maintained an independent posture, and in the end severed your connection with the dictator.
“You were still OK then, especially during the time of troubles after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino.
“I think you started to change when you entertained the notion of being nominated for president. That’s no sin, but when you began to kowtow to embassy officials and make pro-American noises in order to get the support of the CIA and neanderthal Americans, you took the fatal step to perdition.
“But you gloried in it — you hired an American Steve Thomas as security guard, and our friend Roger Davis as your publicity man, so people would think you were favored by the CIA.
“The change from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde occurred I believe when you announced during the crucial time we expected to be presented a Cory-Doy ticket, that the deal was off, and that come what may, you’d be a candidate for the presidency.
“You were never a viable candidate. You were being used by the Americans to extract a commitment from Cory on the American Bases, so Cory had to backtrack from ‘Bases out in 1992!’ to ‘I want to keep my options open.’ You were the cat’s paw, Doy, and you knew it.
“After the revolution, Doy, you became not only vice-president, but also prime minister and minister of foreign affairs—three powerful positions, Doy—while your colleagues in the Unido got nothing, except Orly Mercado who was appointed Rizal Park attendant. Your faithful Rene Espina gritted his teeth, acquired a couple more bags under his eyes, and bolted to the opposition.
“Then you came up with the idea of a Parallel Presidency, to have your own official line organization all the way down to the barangay level, that will allow you to exercise the powers of the presidency. Admit it, that was the idea of Bosworth and Kaplan, right?
“In effect you and your American friends implied that Cory as a housewife is not competent to be president, that you Salvador Laurel should take over the reins of government and assure the Americans of their bases and business monopolies.
“Fortunately, Cory Aquino is no fool, and her advisers no pushovers for the neanderthals.
“You struck out on that one, Doy.
“Poor Doy, even the lowest embassy employees do not respect you as foreign secretary. They totally bypass your office and directly deal with our highest officials, against all rules of protocol.
“Sadly, sadly, we ask Cory to relieve you of the foreign affairs portfolio.
“What are we to do with you, Doy?”
Even the Communists, whom one might think consider him a good argument for communism, don’t like Doy. Here goes a Malaya report:
“LAUREL ACCUSED OF ‘FOMENTING’ UNREST IN AFP
“Former rebel peace negotiator Satur Ocampo accused Vice-President Salvador Laurel of political grandstanding and fanning unrest within the already divided military . . .
“Commenting on Laurel’s visits to military camps last week, Ocampo, who went into hiding early this year following the collapse of peace negotiations with the Aquino government, said the Vice-President has been more concerned with projecting his political image than looking into the causes of unrest within the military.
“’What he is doing now is projecting himself, but at the same time creating unrest within the military.’”
But why should Doy be doing that?
Divide the AFP — so the Communists will win?
Make more AFP rebels against the Aquino government if their demands, as proclaimed by Doy, are not granted?
Among the demands of the officers and soldiers with whom Doy cuddled up during his military camp visits, is amnesty for Gringo Honasan and his followers in the attack against the government. This demand the government has made clear is totally unacceptable. Not only to the government but to the AFP top command. But Doy played it up — for all it was worth to him.
So, if the impossible demand and others of the same category are rejected, more of the AFP would defect to the rebel camp?
And help mount another attempt at a coup to overthrow the Aquino government?
Turning Cory into a ceremonial President if not killing her?
But who will head that government? That military junta? Enrile? If not Enrile, then Gringo? Why not Gringo — who laid his life on the line to seize power?
BUT SURE AS HELL, NOT DOY!
He just has to wait until Cory drops dead or becomes incompetent to discharge her duties as President. In which latter case, there might well be another attempt at a military coup and the next head of state would be anybody but Doy.
Doy will just have to wait until Cory dies—of natural death.
Last week, Doy tendered his irrevocable resignation as secretary of foreign affairs from the Aquino cabinet.
The President accepted it.
“Good!” many sighed in relief.
C’est la vie — political wise.
“THEY WERE OUT TO KILL ME!”—Pres. Corazon C. Aquino
September 19, 1987–THE mutiny staged by the Reform Armed Forces Movement (RAM) headed by Lt. Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, former chief of the security group of about 600 men assigned to then Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile, was the fifth coup attempt in the 18 months that President Corazon C. Aquino has been in office. It was the same group behind the failed coup attempt against then President Marcos last year. Only Cory’s People Power Revolution saved the leaders of the “revolt” from the guns of the dictator. Anyway, Gen. Fidel Ramos cited Honasan as “hero” of the Revolution.
The first coup attempt was in July 1986, when Arturo M. Tolentino, who was Marcos’ s running mate in the February 7 snap election which they lost, declared the existence of a rebel government with himself as Acting President. About 400 Marcos loyalist troops, led by four generals, took over the Manila Hotel to serve as Tolentino’s “Malacañang”, only to be washed up within two days, along with Tolentino’s fantasy, after all its telephone lines and electric and water supply were cut off. As punishment for all the military personnel involved, Gen. Ramos ordered 30 pushups for the “rebels”.
The second attempt, set in November last year when President Aquino was visiting Japan, fizzled out after General Ramos called the plot leaders and engaged them in a bull session that lasted all night.
The third coup attempt took place in February this year, timed with the announced return of deposed President Marcos — which did not materialize. Rebel soldiers numbering about 300, most of them coming from military camps in Central Luzon and led by officers assigned to the area, took over GMA 7, the television station along EDSA in Diliman, Quezon City, and occupied it for two days.
The fourth coup attempt took place last April, when rebellious troops from a military camp in Central Luzon forced their way into Fort Bonifacio in the early hours of Easter Sunday and freed the soldiers involved in the GMA 7 takeover who were being detained in the stockade near the headquarters of the Philippine Army. Both rescuers and those whom they rescued from detention were rounded up.
Nothing serious. Petty misadventures and nothing more.
But this fifth coup attempt is something that cannot just be shrugged off. If it succeeded, a military junta was to be set up after killing Aquino and ousting General Ramos as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff. The military junta would be headed by Honasan.
And for a time it did look like the RAM mutiny would succeed.
The surprising, nay, puzzling thing about this RAM mutiny was that it was known well in advance that a putsch was brewing but nothing effective was done to abort it.
Key officers in scattered military camps in various parts of Metro Manila, the regional command areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao were in frequent radio contact with the key plotters. These communications were monitored. Except to hide their identities under flimsy guise of NPA commanders operating somewhere in Quezon, the plotters transmitted their messages seemingly without any care for secrecy on police frequency radios.
One such radio transmission was intercepted by the lady radio operator at the Pasig, Metro Manila headquarters of the Eastern Police District, Metropolitan Police Force. The radio message, intercepted at five o’clock in the morning of August 27, spelled out the grim terms of the plan and the timetable for its execution:
ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT AQUINO BEFORE THE END OF THE MONTH (AUGUST).
Informed of the interception of the radio message, the command duty officer of the Integrated National Police (INP) circulated the intelligence information among higher armed forces and police authorities. A Metro Manila-wide red alert was issued.
Malacañang and the commanders of the major armed services were alerted Thursday afternoon, August 27, to an impending mutiny from the direction of Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija. Why was no counter-effort made?
Between eleven o’clock and midnight of Thursday, August 27, the movement of troops from Nueva Ecija on board commandeered passenger buses as well as Army trucks bound for Metro Manila was already known to some civilian officials. They did try to alert GHQ, AFP to this grim development but there was no one around to receive their frantic calls although the electronic alert system was functioning.
Metro Manila Governor Jejomar Binay at midnight hied to the home of Executive Secretary Joker P. Arroyo in Dasmariñas Village in Makati to confer with the Malacañang official on the upsetting report of unauthorized troop movements he had received earlier in the night. There they were joined by the President’s only son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who had also received similar reports.
It was 1:30 a.m., Friday morning, August 28, when the report came in that shooting had begun at Malacañang. Noynoy, accompanied by his security escort of three soldiers belonging to the Presidential Security Group (PSG), all in a back-up car, and a civilian agent who sat beside him in his white Mercedez Benz car which he himself drove, rushed back to Malacañang to “link up” with his family. Driving down Nagtahan Bridge, they saw civilians milling about the rotunda and thought that the troops they saw there were friendly forces. Approaching Arlegui Street (where President Aquino stays in a government guest house) across Jose P. Laurel, Sr. Street from the Malacañang compound, they saw heavily armed soldiers in combat position, and Noynoy, still thinking that they were friendly forces, introduced himself. They fired at him and his companions, killing the three PSG men on the spot and seriously wounding the civilian agent who shielded Noynoy’s body with his own. Though also wounded, Noynoy managed to call for help on his car’s two-way radio.
At that very moment. Col. Voltaire Gazmin, commander of the PSG, was maneuvering the tanks to the Malacañang defense perimeter. He dispatched two armored vehicles to rescue Noynoy’s group. The attackers hurriedly left the area but not before collecting the firearms of the slain PSG men and that of the civilian agent and divesting Noynoy of his wallet which contained some P4,000.
The shooting at Malacañang, which started at about 1:30 that Friday morning, lasted up to three o’clock in the pre-dawn hours. Though greatly outnumbered by rebel troops at the start of the battle, Gazmin’s PSG force succeeded in repelling the attack. About one-fourth of the PSG force had left Manila the day before for four Central Luzon provinces (Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales and Bulacan) to secure President Aquino who was scheduled to go on a consultation tour of the four provinces and meet with local officials and development officers. The PSG men deployed in these four provinces were to serve as the President’s advance parties. They were immediately recalled to Malacañang.
Marines to the Rescue
It was the Marines who saved the morning for the PSG. They responded with lightning speed to the PSG’s SOS call and effectively helped in repelling the rebel troops’ attack on Malacañang. After a while, past three o’clock, when it was clear that the rebel troops were not mounting a counterattack, Brig. Gen. Rodolfo Biazon, commandant of the Marines, got the order from President Aquino to send his men after the rebel troops who had moved to Camp Aguinaldo.
“Hit them!” the President ordered General Biazon. “I don’t care how you do it, but do it!”
About that same time, quarter of an hour past three o’clock, the main body of rebel troops that came from Central Luzon divided into two groups — one converging at Camp Aguinaldo, and the other at the ABS-CBN compound at Bohol Avenue, both in Quezon City. The rebel troops converging at Camp Aguinaldo were directly led by Honasan, those converging at the ABS-CBN compound by Col. Eduardo Matellano, PC provincial commander of Nueva Ecija.
In the glowing skylight of the pre-dawn hours, the rebel troops displayed their mutinous sign of the RAM: the inverted Philippine flag with patch of red above the color blue. They flew this sign of the RAM on their armored vehicles or wore the miniature flag above the breast pockets of their combat uniform.
Earlier that morning, the inverted flag flew over Camp Olivas in San Fernando, Pampanga, where renegade Col. Reynaldo Berroya and renegade Maj. Manuel Divina, former PC provincial commander and assistant provincial commander, respectively, had taken Brig. Gen. Eduardo Taduran, chief of PC Regional Command (Recom) 3, along with his six senior staff officers, hostage. The takeover of Camp Olivas by the rebel troops was effected at one o’clock, Friday morning. Basa Air Base in nearby Floridablanca, home of the Philippine Air Force’s fighter planes, also fell under rebel control.
Held hostage by the rebel troops along with Gen. Taduran were Col. Miguel Fontanilla, deputy Recom 3 commander for operations; Col. Wilfred Nicolas, Recom 3 chief-of-staff; Police Lt. Col. Agusto Cuyugan, deputy Recom 3 commander for police matters; Major Enrique Galang, chief of the civil relations service; Maj. Abdul Rahaman Abdulla, commander, Headquarters Service Co.; Maj. Vidal Querol, Recom 3 assistant chief of staff for operations; and Lt. Rufino Mendoza, aide-de-camp.
They were held hostage while meeting in the office of General Taduran for an emergency staff conference on reports of unauthorized troop movements from Nueva Ecija to Metro Manila. The hour was 2:30 a.m. when the renegade officers confronted them. It was only then that they learned that Camp Olivas had been under rebel control as of 1:00 a.m. that morning. Colonel Berroya and Major Divina had been AWOL (absent without official leave) since their involvement in the February take-over by Marcos loyalist troops of GMA 7 in Quezon City.
At 1:30 a.m. that Friday morning, in Villamor Air Base, headquarters of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), negotiations started between Maj. Gen. Antonio E. Sotelo, PAF chief, and Brig. Gen. Federico Pasion, Jr., PAF vice commander and camp commander of the base, for General Sotelo to yield command to the other. Sotelo, a true soldier and authentic hero of the February 1986 EDSA Revolution, bluntly told Pasion that only President Aquino could relieve him of his post. The negotiations lasted for five hours.
Later in the day, taking the fire escape route after leaving his office on the third floor of the PAF headquarters building through a window, along with a group of officers loyal to the government, General Sotelo reached the office behind the headquarters building of Col. Leopoldo Acot, A-2 (Air Intelligence) chief. And whom would he find there but General Pasion, holding an Uzi machine pistol in one hand and a .45 caliber service pistol in the other? General Sotelo disarmed him easily.
It was 3:15 in the pre-dawn hours of that Friday morning when Honasan entered Camp Aguinaldo with some 800 heavily armed men, mostly from the Special Forces training camp, of which he was the commander, in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. He had wanted to enter Camp Aguinaldo through Gate I but was not allowed by Col. Emiliano Templo, commander of the National Capital Region Defense Command (NCRDC) which was tasked with the defense of the camp.
The two had a long argument at Gate I, which infuriated Honasan. He told Colonel Templo that he did not want any further argument. To avoid a bloody showdown, Colonel Templo relented but would allow Honasan and his men, along with their equipment, to enter the camp only through Gate 5.
The idea was to let them into Camp Aguinaldo but to isolate them at a certain section while a defense perimeter was established to prevent them from overrunning the whole camp. Col. Honesto Isleta, AFP spokesman, also explained over the radio later in the morning that the plan was to confine the mutiny inside the camp to avert or at least minimize civilian casualties in case a shooting war broke out between Honasan’s men and the pro-government troops.
Initially, Honasan chose a spot under the trees in a section of the Camp Aguinaldo golf course as a kind of command post where he was joined by his deputy, Col. Melchor Acosta, commander of the 14th Infantry Battalion; a Colonel Erfe and Commander Jimmy Lucas of the Philippine Navy who later led the rebel troops in the occupation of the General Headquarters building; and Lt. Gabby Dizon, aide of Defense Secretary Rafael Ileto and a son of Brig. Gen. Benjamin Dizon, commander of the Constabulary Highway Patrol Group (CHPG), among many others.
At 4:45 a.m. that Friday morning, roused from her sleep three hours earlier by the sounds of gunfire during the firefight at Malacañang, President Aquino went on the air to announce that the attack on Malacañang by mutinous soldiers had been repulsed and that she was safe and well. She urged the people to stay indoors until the rebellion was quelled. She announced the suspension of classes in all schools in Metro Manila and for her own scheduled trip to Central Luzon that morning. Hers was a reassuring voice, unhurried and unemotional.
In Legazpi City, it was not until six o’clock that Friday morning that the rebel troops made their move. Led by Capt. Ludovico Dioneda, commanding officer of the PC company in Albay’s first district, Lt. Diosdado Balleros, CO of the PC company in the second, and Capt. Reynaldo Rafal, CO of the PC company in the third, the rebel soldiers, numbering about 80, sought official permission from Brig. Gen. Luis San Andres, chief of PC Recom 5 based at Camp Bagong Ibalon, to secure the Legazpi airport, only to hoist the inverted Philippine flag upon their arrival there. It turned out that the troops were promised a transport plane that would arrive from Villamor Air Base to ferry them to Metro Manila to augment Honasan’s forces. Four truckloads of soldiers from Camp Bagong Ibalon left that same hour bound for Manila. Nothing was heard of them afterwards.
Gen. San Andres sometime later in the day sent emissaries to the mutineers at the Legazpi airport to urge them to return to camp. As the day wore on and the promised Air Force cargo plane did not arrive, the weary mutineers returned to camp only to find nobody to welcome them back. Captain Dioneda spoke over the radio owning full responsibility for their mutinous act.
At Broadcast City, which was occupied briefly by Honasan’s boys, Honasan’s message explaining the coup attempt was read at midmorning. The message said:
“We the young officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines wish to inform our countrymen that this is not a loyalist, leftist, or rightist move. This is a move of young officers led by Col. Gregorio Honasan, Col. Red Kapunan, Col. Tito Legaspi, Navy Capt. Felix Turingan, Maj. Noe Wong, and majority of idealist young officers of the AFP.
“We have taken it upon ourselves to initiate the fight for justice, equality, and freedom which our senior officers failed to do or refused to undertake.
“We wish to inform our countrymen that we are now in control of Camp Aguinaldo, Villamor Air Base, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, the entire Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, and that the entire Philippine Military Academy cadet corps has already withdrawn their allegiance to the government. They are now on their way to Manila under Colonel Kapunan.
“We are also in control of the Broadcast City and we are committed to die for our country and fellowmen. We are inviting other professional and freedom-loving officers and enlisted men to join us and let us have a new direction.”
President Aquino would later mock Honasan for his unabashed reference to his group of mutineers as “idealist young officers fighting for justice, equality and freedom.” In a brief speech at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio on Sunday, August 30, during the observance of National Heroes Day, she said:
“Let not idealism be used to cover the darkest crimes and ambitions of men whose actions only showed their hatred of democracy and their contempt for the lives of the people. One cannot be idealistic and a liar. They dishonor that name. They dishonor the word.”
The capture of PTV-4 was a priority objective of the mutineers. This task fell on Col. Eduardo Matellano, PC provincial commander of Nueva Ecija, who had a glamorous record in soldiering. PTV-4 had earlier been placed under heavy security, following intelligence reports of the impending coup, and Col. Warlito Sayam, who the month before captured renegade Col. Rolando Abadilla, directed its defense. About 85 young regular soldiers took positions inside the ABS-CBN compound at Bohol Avenue in Quezon City, where the government tv station is housed.
The attack came at 1:45 that Friday morning. This followed closely the attack on Malacañang which was repulsed and involved the same rebel troops at Malacañang who had retreated to Quezon City. They came on two trucks led by a police jeep. The exchange of heavy gunfire lasted throughout the morning. The station went off the air.
President Aquino, roused from sleep by the sound of gunfire at about 1:30 that Friday morning, was determined to crush the mutiny at the earliest possible time. From the start she was resolved that there would be no negotiations, no prisoners. At 4:30 that morning she had gone on the air, yet at seven o’clock there was still that eerie absence of contact with Gen. Ramos, her Armed Forces’ chief-of-staff. She wanted an attack launched against the rebel forces immediately. She had even taken the risk of having an inadequate secrity force in Malacañang by releasing the Marines, telling General Biazon, the Marines commandant, to “hit them, no matter how you do it, but hit them!”
The Malacañang hot lines to the office of the Secretary of Defense and to the office of the chief of staff at the AFP general headquarters, both in Camp Aguinaldo, had been cut.
“What was going on?” the President asked impatiently. “When is the attack?”
Presidential Special Counsel Teddy Boy Locsin volunteered to go to Camp Crame to personally deliver to General Ramos or to his deputies, Gen. Renato de Villa, PC chief, or Gen. Eduardo Ermita, AFP vice chief of staff, the President’s order to attack. It was eight o’clock and the weather had turned balmy, but Locsin found it stifling hot inside General Ramos’s command post in Camp Crame. General Ramos was there all right. But at ten o’clock the attack ordered by the Commander-in-Chief had still not been launched.
President Aquino called Governor Binay and through him got Gen. Alfredo S. Lim, superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Force’s Western Police District General Lim’s mission:
“Retake Channel 4!”
General Lim’s original order was actually to “reinforce” the beleaguered defenders of Channel 4. Brig. Gen. Rene Cruz, deputy director of the Integrated National Police (INP), told General Lim to take his men to Camp Crame for their high-powered weapons and ammunition. General Lim had gathered about 70 uniformed cops and plainclothes men for the task assigned to him. When they were ready to move out, their number had been swelled to 139.
A block away from Channel 4, General Lim and his men saw a pathetic sight: the young regular soldiers who were defending Channel 4 were staggering out of the ABS-CBN compound, their guns left behind in abject surrender to Colonel Matellano’s forces entrenched at nearby Camelot Hotel which they had used as their fortress in attacking Channel 4. The defenders told General Lim that they had run out of ammunition and even when they had they could not match the superior fire-power of the rebel troops. They had been on the line for 10 hours and they had not received any reinforcement or resupply of ammunition.
As it turned out, according to General Lim later, this was a tactical advantage. He said: “Had the pro-government troops remained inside Channel 4, we would have been on the defensive side, and the rebel troops mostly encamped at the Camelot Hotel, would have been on the offensive. And we scored psychologically against the rebel soldiers. We retook Channel 4. This demoralized the rebel soldiers who had briefly occupied Channels 9 and 13 at the Broadcast City into surrendering.”
Turning the Tide
The tide turned against the rebel troops of Honasan as the afternoon of that Friday began. With the retaking of Channel 4, at no bloody cost to the government side except for one policeman killed and two wounded, a psychological momentum toward an early victory began to swing the tide of battle for the government side. Government troops arrived at the scene to mount an attack against the rebel troops that had taken positions inside the Camelot Hotel. It was now clear to the curious onlookers at the Channel 4 area, many of whom had earlier in the day flashed the Marcos loyalist V sign as they provided cover to retreating and wounded rebel troops, and to those following the situation reports on the radio, that the government was on top of the situation.
The decisive phase of the battle that bleak Friday, August 28, came around two o’clock in the afternoon when Colonel Templo, who was in command of the defending forces in Camp Aguinaldo, together with Colonel Sayam, made a final effort to convince Honasan’s men at the Department of National Defense building to surrender. But Honasan’s boys there, Colonel Erfe and Navy Commander Lucas, stood pat. They had already made known their position, they said, and that was that. Their position was for President Aquino to step down and for General Ramos to resign.
General Ermita and Gen. Ramon Montaño maintained their position on the third floor of the GHQ building where the offices of the AFP general staff were located, but now, as the afternoon dragged on, they wanted to get out. The first and second floors of the building, however, were in the hands of the rebel troops. Colonel Templo received a Capcom radio message that Capcom reinforcements would enter Camp Aguinaldo through Gate 2.
The final battle was about to begin. Honasan’s side refused to negotiate so cockeyed sure of victory were the mutineers. President Aquino had declared there would be “no terms”.
At 4:15 p.m. that Friday afternoon, as she spoke on a nationwide radio-tv hook-up, two Tora-Tora dive bombers of World War II vintage from the Sangley Point Air Station attacked me rebel troops’ positions inside Camp Aguinaldo. Tanks crashed through the walls of the camp to enable the Marines led by Col. Braullio Balbas, Jr. to link up with the NCRDC forces under Colonel Templo. A helicopter gunship strafed rebel troops’ positions in die Camelot Hotel area.
The left wing of the GHQ building billowed with heavy smoke after retreating rebel troops set it afire by pouring gasoline all around and firing smoke grenades at it. The day after, against the bright morning sun, die gutted ruins of die building’s left wing presented a stark reminder to all who viewed it of what the madness of Honasan and his group had done.
As for Honasan, reports said he was flown out of Camp Aguinaldo as the Friday afternoon battle raged on. The latest report was that he had formed a provisional government under a junta composed of himself and his fellow renegade officers who had founded RAM.
The shoot-to-kill order issued on him has been lifted “to allow Honasan to surrender peacefully.”
Does this mean that President Aquino had softened on the mutineers? Would that not invite another coup attempt?
At the solemn rites held last August 30 at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, during the observance of the National Heroes Day, President Aquino dared rebellious troops still in the armed services to attempt another coup:
“They should expect once again to be crushed!”
The Friday, August 28 uprising of Honasan’s RAM boys, she said, “taught them the most bitter lesson and we will teach them again if they want it.”
The Friday Coup, They Almost Won!
By Teodoro M. Locsin
September 19, 1987–THE most bizarre thing about the Friday coup was not that it took place, or that it was defeated, but that so many are blaming each other for what should be a joyful victory and a reason to reflect on why we continue to be threatened by mutinies and attempted coups.
Cowardly cabinet members complained to the President why decision-making was left in the hands of Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo and Presidential Counsel Teddy Boy Locsin, although both Arroyo and Locsin did not discuss what kind of response the Government should make to the coup but simply received orders from her to communicate her toughline to the Police and the AFP.
Terrified Cabinet Members Complain Why They Were Not Allowed to Quarterback Long Distance
One Cabinet member, who had recommended that Enrile be called in to GHQ Crame so he could talk Gringo into laying down his arms and forgive and forget, complained why the Cabinet Crisis Committee was preempted by Presidential Counsel Teddy Boy Locsin. He was told that the members of the Crisis Committee had been called by the President. But, this Cabinet member said, one could not expect the Committee members to show up in Malacañang with all the firing going on. This was at 5 in the morning, 2 ½ hours after the firefight when little children were playing in the streets, picking up empty shells.
62-Year-Old Protocol Officer Walks Calmly Into a Killing Field
Another Cabinet member wryly commented that Protocol Officer Miguel Perez Rubio and his secretary Medy Dia had driven over to Malacañang at 2:30 a.m., while the firefight was going and, ordered by unidentified soldiers to get out of their cars, blithely walked the whole length from the foot of Ayala Bridge all the way to Gate 4 which was strewn with bodies and sticky with blood. Miguel and Medy merely got toilet paper to wipe their shoes and promptly arrogated to themselves the task of manning the telephones and preparing the stale bread sandwiches and rancid coffee.
Joker Arroyo and Secretary Locsin were in the Guesthouse after patrolling the city alone in their respective cars.
Cory’s Hardline Endangers Cabinet Members’ Lives and Wealth
Many members of the Cabinet were appalled that the hardline policy of Cory Aquino, which was not diluted by Arroyo and Locsin, might have gotten the AFP mad at all of them, and they might have been arrested or hurt by military men in the event of a junta was established.
These Cabinet members said that Locsin especially is unfit to be in government if he is so willing to risk their lives.
Locsin had ordered the closure of DZRH at 4 a.m. because the station was being used by the rebels, unknown to the station people, to send their signals out to the various rebel units, this according to General Ramos’s report to the Cabinet.
Moronic Senator of Moro Fame
And yet, one Senator, whose only claim to fame is the revival of Nur Misuari and the Muslim secessionist movement after Marcos had brilliantly divided the Muslims and crushed the secession at the cost of 600,000 civilian lives, 10,000 AFP soldiers (who fought some of the most brilliant campaigns in military annals, especially Gringo Honasan) and 2 million refugees and billions of pesos in damage, stopped the closure of DZRH in the name of press freedom.
Gringo Honasan had long wanted to shoot this Senator as a service to the Republic and as recompense for all the wasted soldier dead in the Muslim Wars, but thought the fellow’s life was not worth the bullet.
Joker Caused the Coup?
The complaining Cabinet members surfaced late in the day to say that the coup was caused by Joker Arroyo, whose inefficiency (meaning, stopping their business colleagues from stealing from the government and using government power to wrest privileges for themselves) had angered the military. They spoke of Locsin’s violation of the peaceful spirit of the EDSA Revolution in calling for air strikes against the TV stations whose broadcast of the rebel announcements were causing AFP troops and officers throughout the country to waver if not outright defect.
Psychological Testing Proper Response to Coup?
What was needed, these critics said, was an in-depth analysis of the basic sub-structural flaws and subterranean tendencies in the typical soldier and officer that caused him to ally himself with Gringo Honasan and other hardliners. A deeper and more sympathetic understanding of the soldier’s “unconscious” (sic) was what the situation called for, rather than Arroyo and Locsin, two lawyers totally ignorant of psychology and religion, calling for immediate military response on the dubious premise that time was on the rebel side.
Philosophy Another Solution?
“What is time?” one Crisis Committee member asked? “Two thousand years of philosophy had not resolved that enigma. Who are these two to presume?”
Crippled and Fat Logic in the Media
In the face of all the bickering, and all the columns written by a mental cripple and a fat coward, whose gun collection is a cover for his medically certified impotence, and whose gun collection was the reason he objected in his columns to the checkpoints called for by President Aquino and the Chief-of-Staff, the President decided to go on the air.
“Let me set the record straight.
“Intelligence did not fail me on this occasion. We anticipated a coup attempt led by these specific officers for some time now. Certainly, 2 weeks before last Friday, Col. Gazmin of the Presidential Security Group was warning me that there would be another coup. General Ramos on August 24 had also told me that there were again disturbing reports of restlessness in the military. General De Villa’s intelligence corroborated the report I received.
“I was scheduled to go on a Regional Consultation on Friday, August 28. The PSG was therefore reduced by the number of officers and men that had to be deployed to the 3 provinces I would visit the next day. Nonetheless, Colonel Gazmin was ready:
“All PSG units were put on RED ALERT-STAND TO status in anticipation of an attack any time. They were prepositioned well in front of all approaches to Arlegui.
“Armored vehicles were prepositioned in strategic locations.
“At half past midnight, there was confirmed report of enemy sighting. The PSG braced themselves for the attack that came 1:45.
“I had gone to bed at midnight. I woke up to the sound of gunfire. I called General Ramos at his residence but they said he was in Camp Crame.
“I called Joker Arroyo in his residence but it was Jojo Binay I spoke to and who told me that Noynoy had been with him but had left for Arlegui.
“The rebel forces numbering about 200 led by Colonel Honasan, according to General Ramos’s report, attacked us from 2 directions: The main attack came up JP Laurel towards Arlegui, while the second came from the direction of Ayala Bridge. The rebels came in 6-by-6 trucks, had armored vehicles and high powered rifles. The PSG engaged the rebels at the checkpoint fronting Saint Jude, a firefight ensued. Two of our soldiers were killed in the first skirmish. I learned later that one sacristan in Saint Jude’s Church was also killed. A WAC was also killed.
“Five minutes later, while this was going on, still another group of rebel soldiers came up Ayala Avenue on 2 trucks and deployed at the corner of P. Casal and Nicanor Padilla Streets.
“Colonel Gazmin took me to the first floor because the firing was getting intense. Should the fighting further intensify, he suggested that I move to a safer place. I did not argue with Colonel Gazmin so as not to distract his attention from the work of defense, but I had no intention of leaving. This was my place. I remembered what had happened to Marcos who did not make a stand.
“The PSG repulsed the attacks; the rebel troops started to withdraw.
“At this point, my son, Noynoy, having heard that Arlegui was under attack rushed back to join me. We had tried to get through to him but had failed. He was driving the car with his bodyguard beside him and a backup vehicle following. They ran into the rebels. He went down and talked to them, and then as he got back into the car, the rebels fired on him and his backup. His bodyguard covered him and was repeatedly shot in the back. He himself was hurt. Everyone in the back-up was killed. Noynoy finally got through to Colonel Gazmin’s men who rushed to where he was and brought him to Arlegui. Noynoy told Colonel Gazmin not to tell me he was wounded — instead Noynoy talked to me on the phone telling me he was at the barracks with the PSG.
“The rebel forces were in full retreat by about 3 a.m. During this time I had been able to talk on the phone with General Ramos, I got in touch with Vice President Laurel, Ting Jayme, and Alran Bengzon. General Ramos told me that Villamor Airbase was also under attack. Joker Arroyo called me to say he was in touch with General Sotelo who told him that the rebels were occupying the two floors below him, but he assured us that there was no threat from the Air Force helicopters. His forces and the rebels would prevent either side from using them.
“General Alfredo Lim called up Colonel Gazmin at this time and said he had 600 men at my disposal; just to give him the orders.
“I then began to receive reports that the rebel troops that the PSG had repelled had converged and joined other rebels in front of Camp Aguinaldo. By 4 a.m. the reports said that the rebels had began scaling the walls of the Camp.
“At this time, General Biazon arrived with a battalion of Marines. I told him that I depended on him to resolve the situation in Camp Aguinaldo.
“I discussed the situation with General Ramos by phone twice while I was in Arlegui.
“At 7:30 a.m. I arrived at the Guesthouse. I called in Joker Arroyo and Teddy Boy Locsin. I told them that there would be no negotiations with the rebel troops, no terms of any kind. I wanted the situation resolved, the mutiny crushed by noon. I asked my daughter Ballsy to call General Ramos by the hotline, but it was dead. We tried the phones but they were either busy or dead. I told Teddy Boy to go to Camp Crame and stand by a working phone to keep me in touch with General Ramos. I told him to deliver my instructions to General Ramos. I kept telling General Ramos, General De Villa and Secretary Ileto to resolve the problem as quickly as possible. Time was on the rebel side.
“Between 8 and noon time, I received calls from Teddy Boy on the situation in Aguinaldo. He first called at 9 to say that Ramos had told him that the attack would start at 10 a.m., when he had sufficient forces. I also talked to General Ramos. From time to time, Teddy Boy called and gave the phone to either General De Villa or General Ramos who kept me informed of developments.
“There was a standoff in Camp Olivas, he reported.
“The Recom Commander in Cebu had taken over the civil government.
“Constabulary and Police units had joined the rebels and occupied the Legaspi airport.
“There was a delay in the arrival of Biazon’s Marines because of engine failure and the slowness of his transport vehicles. The attack was moved to 11 a.m. At 11:15 Teddy Boy called again to say that the rebels were on the air in Channel 13. He said that measures were being prepared since early morning to stop both Channel 9 and 13 from broadcasting. But that something would be done soon. I told him I wanted the attack started. Colonel Gazmin told me that General De Villa said that the attack would commence at 11:30.
“At 11:30, although the Marines had not arrived, General Ramos opened fire with recoilless rifles on Camp Aguinaldo. The line had been drawn between our side and theirs. We delivered the message of “NO NEGOTIATIONS” even before my announcement in the afternoon.
“At about noon, I received the report that the composite police and SAF task force led by General Lim had relieved the siege of Channel 4 and had started the attack on Camelot Hotel.
“I went on the air at 3:15 in the afternoon to announce the artillery attack we had started and that there would be no negotiations with the rebels. I said that there would be no let-up in military operations until the rebellion was crushed.
“At around the same time, the composite force of Army, Constabulary and Marines breached the walls of Camp Aguinaldo and started to mop up the rebels. The GHQ building was burned down by the rebels.
“At around 5 o’clock, we learned later, the leader of the rebellion had fled with other key officers in a helicopter.
“Around 8 in the evening, General Ramos reported to me that Camp Aguinaldo was being cleared of all rebels.
“Partial reports indicate that 50 officers and 1,300 enlisted personnel were involved in the attempted coup, which was the bloodiest yet.
“Forty officers and 993 enlisted men either surrendered or were captured. Eight hundred twenty-five of them are detained in three ships of the Philippine Navy, the rest are in the Philippine Army gym.
“Government suffered 12 killed in action and the wounding of 15 officers, 42 enlisted men and 4 policemen. On the rebel side 19 died, while 39 others were wounded. Twenty-two civilians were killed.
“I grieve for the dead on both sides. When I ordered the attack, I knew that there would be violence but I had to prevent a greater violence.
“When we interviewed the captured, especially here in Malacañang, we found that the enlisted men had been told that they were on a test mission. Some of these rebel soldiers even had notebooks with them. Colonel Honasan had told them that they could not graduate from the course of the Special Operations School without such a practice. Soldiers from other units carried fake radio reports that Malacañang was under siege by the NPA.
“It is not the way of true leaders to delude their followers. The path of violence they chose violated their oath to country and Constitution, but the lies, the deception they perpetrated on their soldiers put to shame the noblest traditions of the Armed Forces.”
Locsin on Ramos
After the broadcast, Locsin reported to the President the brilliant way General Ramos had sized up the situation, how carefully he had weighed the options. The resoluteness with which he inspired the men to attack the Camp after he was sure they would respond.
The initial artillery barrage had accomplished its purpose, which was to draw the line between the two sides and stop all further talks that might have led — perhaps to surrender by Gringo, but more likely to a mass defection by the entire Armed Forces.
It was when Gringo’s boys shot one Marine who was loitering outside Aguinaldo that the initially hesitant Marines, their blood up, attacked the Camp.
God’s love for Cory appears inexhaustible, but actually will run out sooner than the cowards in her Cabinet find the words for their usual after-the-game quarterbacking.
July 26, 1986
Tolentino’s “Last Hurrah”
Tolentino’s counter-revolution was no spontaneous combustion; it had all the earmarks of a deliberate, pre-meditated and cold-blooded putsch.
By Edward R. Kiunisala
It really started last March 30, when the exiled tyrant, 33 days after he had been kicked out of the country by the bloodless People Power revolution, tried to resurrect himself politically by declaring war against the Cory Aguino govenment before foreign media and some 3,000 kababayans in Honolulu. On that day, Easter Sunday, while the whole of christendom commemorated the resurrection of Christ, the gospel from Hawaii was that the overthrown Ferdinand Marcos was coming back to the Philippines to reclaim Malacañang.