Day of the Patriots

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror January 23,2008 edition, p. A10.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” – Thomas Jefferson

Gloria Arroyo did not celebrate the seventh anniversary of the day she seized the presidency from President Joseph Estrada.

Palace factotum Eduardo Ermita explains why Gloria Arroyo chose to forget the defining moment of her life:

“Remember, one legacy agenda is healing the wounds of Edsa and we thought not celebrating will be one of the steps toward healing any hurt feelings brought about by Edsa II. So the least we talk about it, the better, OK?”

But Angelo Reyes, the AFP chief of staff who mutinied against his commander-in-chief, believes the Edsa II anniversary should be celebrated because “the spirit that brought the people there was love of country.”

And so, in deference to Angelo Reyes, I will honor and celebrate the patriots of Edsa II.

Here is Mike Arroyo telling Nick Joaquin (Philippine Graphic, March 5, 2001) why, how, and what he and his wife did for love of country:

“She had really left the Cabinet at the right moment: the timing was perfect. If she had tarried a moment longer, she would have been too late for EDSA: she would have made it there as an opportunist.

“And as for the ill-feeling in Metro Manila, we tackled that by going back to the door-to-door campaign: she went from barangay to barangay explaining her motives, outlining her program. And it worked. Then came the impeachment trial, and from there, tuloy-tuloy na.

“There was a time , honestly, when I felt I erred in advising her to resign from the Cabinet. The masa in Manila apparently wanted her to stick it out with Erap. And when she started attacking him, everything fell on us – grabe!- everything! But I told myself: it’s now or never; if we lose here we’re totally destroyed and it’s goodbye to her political career – but if we win here, she becomes President! So we really fought.

“We got all those Erap tapes from Ramon Jacinto and distributed them all over. We bought one million and a half million copies of Pinoy Times to give away so the public could read about the Erap mansions and bank accounts.

“And when EDSA happened, we texted everybody to go running there. EDSA, EDSA: everybody converge on EDSA! Panalo kung panalo. Patay kung patay! Jinggoy had already announced what they would do to us if they won.

“Chavit Singson had Plan B involving elements of the military to strike the first blow. They would kindle the spark by withdrawing from the government, and one by one others would follow: Class ’71 would also withdraw, then Class ’72, and so forth. But General de Villa warned that the timing had to be precise because one untimely move against the government and the military would automatically defend it. The move must be made at what De Villa called a ‘defining moment.’

“You see, General De Villa had his Plan A, which was better than ours, because his was focused on the Chief of Staff and the Service Commanders. At past one o’clock p.m. January 20, Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes defected but we knew that already the night before, when negotiations had lasted until the small hours. By past 2 a.m. we knew Reyes had been convinced to join. His only condition was: Show us a million people on EDSA so it will be easier to bring in the service commanders.

“And they asked when the crowd was thickest; we told them: from three to five in the afternoon. So they agreed to come to EDSA at around that time. But while hiding in their safehouse, they got reports that General Calimlim could not be located and their first thought was: “He’s out looking for us!” So they decided to rush to EDSA right away. When they got there, why there too at the Shrine was Calimlim! He had been looking for them all right, but join to join them, not to arrest them!

“Our group there was a back-up strike force. In fact, it was our group that won over to our side the PNP first. If Panfilo Lacson had resisted, he and his men would have been repelled: there would have been bloodshed, but not on EDSA. In every place where Erap loyalists had a force, we had a counter-force to face it, with orders to shoot. And not only in Metro Manila. Carillo had already been sent to the provinces; and in Nueva Ecija, for instance, we had Rabosa. This was a fight to the finish. That’s why those five days that Erap was demanding were so important. He was counting on counter-coups and baliktaran.

“I was negotiating with Pardo up to three o’clock in the morning: niloloko lang pala kami. But I told him point-blank: “If by six o’clock this morning you haven’t given us the resignation letter, we will storm the gates of Malacañang!’ But they insisted on more talk: with De Villa up front, and my back channel debate with Pardo, which even became a three-way contest, with Buboy Virata pitching in.

“But the threat to march to Malacañang was for real. And so was the danger of  bloodshed. I wasn’t telling Gloria everything: I didn’t want her alarmed. So she didn’t
know about the orders to shoot.”

Have a nice day.

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