Remembering 30 years ago at EDSA


Millions flocking at EDSA to call for Ferdinand Marcos’ ouster.

Today is exactly 30 years after Ferdinand Marcos was ousted from power, after more than 20 years as president and dictator, and ascension of Corazon Aquino as president after days of protests at the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or EDSA, as a result of highly polarized but fraudulent results of the snap presidential elections which was called upon by him to quell doubts of his capability to lead the country in midst of declining credibility brought by excesses of Martial Law, assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino in 1983, severe depression in 1984-85, and presidential succession feud between Imelda Marcos and Juan Ponce Enrile. These events I’ve mentioned, had created doubts whether Ferdinand Marcos could able to survive as president beyond 1990, given the fact that he was already suffering lupus and could not anymore govern the country by himself but his cohorts. The assassination of his archival, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., further tarnished his credibility to govern the nation, not only in the eyes of many who had resisted his regime but the international community led by the United States. The reason on why Ferdinand Marcos called a snap election before American media was to relieve pressures of his regime in the eyes of the American government as he had to rely from them for the survival not only as president but also his planned anointed successor, likely his wife, Imelda.

The presidential campaign for the snap elections was really intense because of mud-slinging from both Marcos and Aquino sides, in order to gain votes for them to assure continuity of the regime beyond 1990 for the Marcoses and reversing all kinds of achievements and excesses of the Marcoses for the Aquinos. On the election day, February 7, 1986, the voting was tense because of harassment done by Marcos supporters to prevent prospective Aquino voters from voting in their respective polling stations and during the counting of votes at the prescient level, there were reports of ballot snatching across the country, especially in areas where Cory Aquino was expected to win, to derail the possibility of Marcos’ defeat in the hands of a mere housewife. When the COMELEC already conducted its quick count for the presidential and vice presidential results, five computer programmers walked out from the Philippine International Convention Center or PICC, the venue of the quick count, claiming that the Marcos camp had already manipulated the results for them. Meanwhile at the Batasang Pambansa, Ferdinand Marcos and his running mate, Arturo Tolentino, were proclaimed by the assemblymen members, mostly came from KBL, after gathering highest number of votes for their respective positions. These post-election turmoils had resulted into protests which were called upon by Jaime Cardinal Sin on February 22, 1986, calling for the resignation of Ferdinand Marcos and eventually millions of disgruntled people went to EDSA to follow Sin’s call and gained further sympathies after Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Constabulary Chief Fidel Ramos defected from the Marcos camp and joined the protesters. On February 25, 1986, both Corazon Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos were inaugurated as presidents of the country where the former made it at the Club Filipino while the latter at the Malacañang, hours later after Cory’s one. At night on the same day, Ferdinand Marcos, together with his First Family and his closest allies fled Malacañang and sent them into exile to Hawaii where three years later, he passed away and after the end of Cory Aquino’s presidency, his body was returned to the country and displayed in his residence in Ilocos Norte, awaiting for a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in the future.

30 years later, the Aquinos and the Marcoses are still active whether in local and national arenas and in fact, the only son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, Noynoy, is the current president and expected to end his term at the middle of the year while the only son of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Bongbong Marcos, is the current senator and right now, running for vice president and if he wins the position, his presidency in 2022 would be seem to be inevitable. The eldest child of Ferdinand and Imelda, Imee, is the current governor of Ilocos Norte. Imelda herself today is the current representative of the first district of Ilocos Norte. All of the candidates of the current presidential and vice presidential elections are veterans themselves of the Marcos regime like Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Gregorio Honasan or children of benefactors and opponents of the Marcos regime like Grace Poe, Francis Escudero, and Alan Peter Cayetano and Mar Roxas. Only Leni Robredo who have no family and political connections with the famous people during the Marcos regime. Most of all, one of the key actors of the EDSA I revolution, Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos, are still alive and politically active until this point and both of them, outlived Cory Aquino, who died in 2009 due to colon cancer and her death brought her only son to the presidency. Heck, Jovito Salonga, one of the fervent opponents of Ferdinand Marcos alongside Ninoy Aquino, is still alive at the age of 95, though no longer active with politics since his final senatorial term ended in 1992!

Indeed, many of the actors of the Marcos regime and the EDSA I revolution have survived after 30 years together with the most Filipino people like my parents, uncles, and aunts who had grown up during the Martial Law years and my grandparents, uncles, and aunts who had both supported or resisted the regime and this is the lesson for everyone especially those who were born after EDSA I revolution like me that we should cherish freedom and democracy bestowed upon us after years of struggle of our parents and grandparents under the midst of the excess of the Marcos regime which should not be repeated in foreseeable future. We should be thankful that we are enjoying the free flow of information via internet which we cannot enjoy if we remain under Martial Law.

40 years after the declaration of Martial Law

Philippine Sunday Express front page issue about the declaration by Ferdinand Marcos of Martial Law.

Today, 21 September 2012 is the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by President Ferdinand Marcos to suppress increasing civil strife and the threat of communist takeover following a series of bombings in Manila.

The justification of Martial Law started during the first State of the Nation Address in January 1970 after his second election in 1969. Protest happened at the first place as the rising of basic commodity prices like oil became rampant due to massive public spending by the Ferdinand Marcos to fund his electoral victory. The First Quarter Storm was the Philippine version by events of 1968 where the youths who born after World War II, had to clash the old ideas of their preceding generations.

The declaration of Martial Law became certain after the bombings during the proclamation of senatorial candidates of the Liberal Party at the Plaza Miranda in Manila which killed nine persons and injured ninety-five persons including the former Senator Jovito Salonga, who managed to survive from the small pieces of shrapnel that are still lodged in his body. According to Salonga in his autobiography book, the Communist Party of the Philippines led by Jose Maria Sison was the responsible of the bombings on which the CPP and Sison vehemently denied.

After the bombings, President Ferdinand Marcos suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus where any police authorities can detain civilians indefinitely. The declaration gained massive protests and later on 11 January 1972, Ferdinand Marcos restored the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

Few days before the 21 of September 1972,  Juan Ponce Enrile was reportedly ambushed by communists while in his car, killing his driver but leaving him unscathed (Enrile later told the press that it was a fake to give a justification of Martial Law). The assassination attempt (which was later revealed as staged by the government), along with the growing threat of the New People’s Army and citizen unrest, gave Marcos enough reason to declare martial law on September 21, 1972 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1081.

Marcos, who henceforth ruled by decree, curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties, abolished Congress, shut down media establishments, and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including his staunchest critics Senators Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Jose W. Diokno. Initially, the declaration of martial law was well-received, given the social turmoil of the period. Crime rates decreased significantly after a curfew was implemented. Political opponents were given the opportunity to go into exile. As martial law went on for the next nine years, the excesses committed by the military emerged.

As the 1973 was fast approaching and Marcos knew that he could not seek an another re-election unless he would revise the 1935 Constitution, he reconvened the Constitutional Convention for a new constitution that became the 1973 Constitution and maneuvered the proceedings to  adopt the semi-presidential form of government similar to France or South Korea. Knowing that it would be rejected by the electorate, Marcos decreed the creation of citizens’ assemblies which anomalously ratified the constitution.

During the Martial Law years, the Philippine economy grew a significant amount, with foreign investments and tourists playing a large part in the success, and GNP rising to a record Php 193 billion in 1980. During this time, the Philippines officially adopted the metric system as its standard, and has since fully implemented it in industries.

The economy during the decade was robust, with budgetary and trade surpluses. The gross national product rose from Php 55 billion in 1972 to P193 billion in 1980. Tourism rose, contributing to the economy’s growth. The number of tourists visiting the Philippines rose to one million by 1980 from less than 200,000 in previous years. A big portion of the tourist group was composed of Filipino balikbayans (returnees) under the Ministry of Tourism‘s BalikbayanProgram launched in 1973.

The first formal elections since 1969 for an interim Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly) were held on April 7, 1978. Sen. Aquino, then in jail, decided to run as leader of his party, the Lakas ng Bayan party, but they did not win any seats in the Batasan, despite public support and their apparent victory. The night before the elections, supporters of the LABAN party showed their solidarity by setting up a “noise barrage” in Manila, creating noise the whole night until dawn.

In order to appease the Catholic Church before the visit of Pope John Paul II, Marcos officially lifted martial law on January 17, 1981. He did, however retain much of the government’s power for arrest and detention.

Corruption and nepotism as well as civil unrest contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development under Marcos, whose health declined due to lupus.

Following the lifting of Martial Law in 1981, protests against the Marcos regime became apparent as the opposition led by Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. motivated to protest the abuses of the Marcos regime and the resistance became intense after the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. at the tarmac of Manila International Airport, returning after three years of exile and an heart surgery in the United States.

The assassination of Ninoy Aquino was the final coffin of the Marcos regime as Marcos opponents motivated to resist the regime and the intra-factional infighting of Marcos succession between Imelda Marcos and her minions and Juan Ponce Enrile and his subordinates that led the later to stage supposedly the military coup that turned into a bloodless first EDSA People Power that toppled the Marcos regime and brought them into an exile in Hawaii, United States.

References (some of the paragraphs of this article derived from the first link below):


More than Friends – Ninoy Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos

Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. and Ferdinand Marcos. Circa 1970s

This article written by Nemenzo, Gemma from Filipinas (August 2008) is very timely and INTERESTING.

The title of the article is “A Different Take: An Interview with Rep. Roquito Ablan.” A lot of you may not know him, but during the Marcos Era, he was a “force” back then.

Filipinos are made to believe that Ferdinand E. Marcos and Ninoy Aquino were really arch nemesis, rivals, and even foes. But from this interview, we can see the A DIFFERENT VIEW on what was really happening during those times.

So here it is….

While writing a book about Upsilon Sigma Phi, the fraternity both Ferdinand Marcos and Ninoy Aquino belonged to, Filipinas managing editor, Gemma Nemenzo, did a one-on-one interview with Congressman Roquito Ablan of Ilocos Norte.

Ablan had the unique privilege of being close to both Ninoy, his batchmate in Upsilon (batch 1950), and Marcos, the undisputed lord of Ablan’s province. With such proximity to the two political superstars of that era, the congressman had a ringside view of what was happening behind the scenes of the Marcos-Aquino saga.

Is he credible?

People close to Marcos confirm that Roquito Ablan then had a direct line to the former president. Upsilonians also know that he and Ninoy Aquino remained close friends.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

I first met Ninoy at the University of the Philippines (UP) when we were neophytes in 1950. He was a professional absentee from classes. I was working with LUSTEVECO then so I had an open expense account so I would gas up Ninoy’s car.

The two of us were the most hazed neophytes in our batch. Our initiation lasted one year and one semester. We joined Upsilon because it was “the only frat in UP”; to be an Upsilonian, you must be good.

Ninoy and FM (Ferdinand Marcos) were more than friends. When Ninoy was in detention, he and FM would speak with scrambler telephones. During FM’s state visit to the U.S. in 1982, the two of them talked for an hour about good times.

FM was actually considering Ninoy as his successor. He admired Ninoy for his being a courageous fighter and his vigor. They were on the same wavelength.

In fact, Ninoy’s “Iron Butterfly” speech against Imelda and the Folk Arts Theater was edited by FM. I know because I was the intermediary. From the very beginning, FM gave instructions to the military to be lenient with Ninoy.

I met up with Ninoy in New York on April 22, 1983, which was my birthday. He told me he needed a passport. secretary of Foreign Affairs Collantes had earlier issued a memo stating no renewal for Ninoy’s passport. So I checked with FM on the phone and Joey Ampeso, a consular officer assigned in New Orleans and an Upsilonian, was asked to assist Ninoy, which he did.

During that New York meeting, Ninoy also told me that he went to see his doctor and his medical exam might require him to rest for six months because of some heart complication. In July that year, Ninoy was told by the State Department that FM was sick and that “if I don’t go home, I will not be president.”

In early August, FM and Ninoy talked about the latter returning to the Philippines and FM told him not to come home yet because he (FM) was weak and he couldn’t protect Ninoy.

On August 17, there was an earthquake in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, so I had to be there as acting governor. I sent two planes to meet Ninoy in Taipei but the first plane, which carried a top officer, could not locate him because he was using a passport with a different name. FM’s instructions were to bring Ninoy to Basa Air Base, load him in the presidential helicopter and bring him here to Manila, to protect him.

On August 20, I left Laoag at 10 in the evening so I could be in Manila in time to meet Ninoy at the airport. I didn’t think much of it then, but my plane was grounded (by someone who knew the chain of command) and the second plane was prevented from taking off When I was driving to the international airport, my car was delayed because of a rally of another Upsilonian, Doy Laurel, in front of Baclaran Church. I arrived at the airport 12 minutes after Ninoy was shot. Someone met me and said “wala na si Ninoy (Ninoy is gone).” I cried like a baby when I found out what happened. If I arrived on time I could have escorted Ninoy from the aircraft and he would not have been shot, or I would have been shot along with him on the stairs.

Courtesy of Nemenzo, Gemma from Filipinas.

The Supreme Court orders to compensate the Cojuangcos according to 1989 price

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld its November 2011 decision that just compensation for Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac province should be pegged on the value of the estate in 1989, and not on a higher valuation based on 2006 prices sought by the Cojuangco family, owners of the sugar plantation.

The high court’s final and executory ruling did not encompass an actual price for the sugar estate, but militants placed the 1989 value of the 4,335-hectare Hacienda Luisita at P173 million.

SC Administrator Justice Midas Marquez said the 8-6 vote settled the issue of which property valuation to use–1989 or 2006–in paying the Cojuangcos for distributing the plantation to its 6,000 tenant farmers.

It was not an open-ended decision that would have given the Department of Agrarian Reform or a special agrarian court the final say on the issue of just compensation for the Cojuangcos, he said.

For me, this latest decision gives the Hacienda Luisita farmers their long-awaited justice of owning the land that should have been theirs a years ago but the owners, the Cojuangco family constantly disobey the agreement with the government of redistributing the Hacienda Luisita way back in 1968 when the Cojuangco family through Ninoy Aquino managed to maintain the Hacienda Luisita’s control to theirs in spite of an agreement ten years earlier. In 1980, Ferdinand Marcos ordered to redistribute the Hacienda Luisita but it was never materialized because of opposition from the Jose Cojuangco’s family side through Ninoy Aquino (his wife was a daughter of Jose Cojuangco, Sr.) then EDSA I Revolution came in 1986 that propelled Cory Aquino to the presidency. In 1987, a year after the EDSA I, some Hacienda Luisita farmers stromed into Mendiola in a protest with the simple goal of redistributing the Hacienda, but what happened? some of them were massacred by the police forces who guarded the Mendiola Bridge to prevent any protesters to strom Malacañang directly. That massacre haunted Cory Aquino’s reputation as a savior of all Filipinos forever and forces her to enact a watered down “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program” in 1988.

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program exempt the entire Hacienda Luisita from redistribution to the farmers by enacting and applying the option of “Stock Distribution Option” on which according to that provision, the farmers can own or have a part in Hacienda Luisita as stock holders however that’s not enough and in fact in spite of that, the Cojuangco family still considers them as a serf instead of a stock holder like in a typical business establishments as the Cojuangco family maintains the tight grip on ownership of the Hacienda.

Because of increasing poverty especially in the areas of Hacienda Luisita, the farmers decided to make a protest again to hear their plea for total ownership of a land they cultivated for many years in 2004 but what happened? like in Mendiola Massacre, 17 years earlier, some of the farmers were massacred allegedly with the direct order of the Cojuangco family. They were dispersed but their fight never stopped but instead that massacre encourage them to fight more for justifiable land distribution.

In November 2011, the Supreme Court ordered to redistribute the Hacienda Luisita once and for all with unanimous decision among the justices but it was not a final and executory. However, that decision seems to be unacceptable for the Cojuangco family of course as one of the members of their family, through the president Noynoy Aquino initiated a demolition job of destroying the pillar and integrity of the Supreme Court by impeaching the Chief Justice, Renato C. Corona with the alleged charges of unexplained wealth while he’s the Chief Justice and even before he took that position.

I hope that justice will be served once and for all and both sides should follow the Rule of Law whether the farmers or the Cojuangco family for the betterment of this country.