Juan Ponce Enrile was the paramount leader of that revolt 31 years ago. On the weekly TV program "Una sa Lahat", hosted by Kit Tatad, Enrile talked about what EDSA was all about.
According to Enrile, the "EDSA revolution" was a military revolt, and not a civilian exercise. Civilian support came after the military had withdrawn their allegiance from their Commander in Chief, so it was a civilian-supported military coup rather than a military-backed "people power" uprising against then President Marcos.
It happened on EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) because that's precisely where the military decided to make their stand, Enrile said. This was the first time this particular point was explained to the public by its lead participant. There was a choice of going underground and waging guerrilla warfare, Enrile said, but this was instantly discounted. Then there was Fort Bonifacio, Philippine Army headquarters - they found it too big. Then Camp Villamor, Philippine Air Force headquarters - it was open to artillery fire. So EDSA proved ideal.
On one side of EDSA stood Camp Aguinaldo, general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and also the offices of the Department of National Defense, while directly across stood Camp Crame, headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary (now defunct, replaced by the Philippine National Police), then commanded by the AFP deputy chief of Staff, Gen. Ramos.
For Enrile, the EDSA revolt spanned three days - February 22 to 24 - only. He described February 25, the day Cory Aquino took her oath at Club Filipino as "revolutionary President", as "looting and power-grabbing day". This was the day the crowds sacked Malacañang and people who had no part in the "revolution" became active participants in sharing the spoils. Enrile said he never entertained any thought of ever running the government, but would have welcomed joining a five - man revolutionary council that would include Cory Aquino, who had lost the February 7, 1986 snap presidential election to Marcos, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, Gen. Rafael Ileto, and former Marcos Executive Secretary and then-UN official Rafael Salas.
But this idea lost to the idea of a revolutionary President Cory Aquino, he did not say how. But he was genuinely taken aback when Cory abolished the 1973 Constitution, and replaced it first with the so-called Freedom Constitution, and then with the 1987 Constitution. He apparently had thought that the 1973 Constitution could be amended to put in the reforms from the envisioned "revolutionary council." Initially appointed as Cory's defense chief, they quickly had a falling out, and he found himself leading the campaign against the new Constitution, drafted by Cory's handpicked constitutional commissioners.
Cory stayed on as President after the promulgation of the new Constitution on February 2, 1987, under a provision, which extended "the six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice President elected in the February 7, 1986 election…for purposes of synchronization of elections…to June 30, 1992." Enrile shared the view expressed earlier in this column that this provision, as worded, applies to Marcos and his running mate, Arturo Tolentino, who were declared "elected" in that election, even though they were not allowed to sit. Cory and Salvador "Doy" Laurel were never elected.
There was an offer from the Batasan to revoke the proclamation of Marcos and Tolentino in favor of Cory and Doy, but Cory rejected this, so the proclamation was never revoked, Enrile explained. Cory therefore sat as usurper for the next six-and-a-half years. This probably explained why Cory was subjected to so many coup attempts, and would have fallen, were it not for the intervention of the US Air Force during her most critical moment.
For the first time since 1986, Enrile revealed the reason for the EDSA revolt. This is a detail I had missed in my reading of Enrile's memoir, launched in Manila in 2012. Enrile said that on Marcos's visit to the US in 1982, he learned that the President had developed an unnamed sickness, which compelled him to stay on one floor of the Waldorf Astoria's in New York, while his wife stayed on another. There he also learned that General Fabian Ver, the AFP Chief of Staff, who was also chief of presidential security, intelligence, and a few other things, had begun contemplating a military junta of five generals who would take over the government under Mrs. Imelda Marcos should anything happen to the President.
Should Marcos die, the Cabinet would be summoned to Malacañang and kept there before his death was made public, while he himself would be eliminated, Enrile said. Enrile took this information seriously and began planning his counter-move, he said. His first moves included acquiring 300 Uzis and 500 Galils, out of his own corporate funds. The rest is history. (Juan Ponce Enrile, A Memoir is available at Amazon.com)
Given PDU30's own health condition, I find this detail especially relevant to us at this time. PDU30 has openly admitted his various afflictions, but refuses to allow an impartial medical analysis to diagnose and declare his actual medical condition. The constitutional line of succession exists, but DU30's communist partners appear determined to prevent a constitutional successor from taking over should DU30 be summoned by his Maker before his term ends. It appears that Mr. Evasco will leave no stone unturned to put a revolutionary government in place, before anything happens to the President.
This would make Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Bongbong Marcos, who is contesting the vice presidency, and the Senate President and the Speaker of the House, who are all in the line of succession, totally irrelevant. In Enrile's case, he and the military had to mount a coup to prevent five generals from taking over should Marcos die. In Evasco's case, he has to make sure a revolutionary government is in place to prevent a constitutional successor from taking over, should PDU30 prematurely depart the scene. Is there anyone who will prevent him from carrying out his scheme? Don't you think he should be wearing Enrile's old shoes, right now?