Monday, February 25, 2019

The last days of Marcos

Today, February 25th is the day 33 years ago that Phillipines President Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown by peoples' revolution after he reinstate himself as President after presidential election amrred with widespread fraud in 1986.

Today's CNN report recounted the last conversation between US Republican lawmaker, Senator Paul Laxalt and Marcos.
By 5:00 a.m. (Philippine time), Laxalt was again on the phone talking to Marcos, who bluntly asked him if Reagan, whom he regarded as a friend, had changed his mind concerning his treatment of his government. The exchanges, which were recorded by scholars, were curt but poignant because they showed the pathetic state of a falling dictator.

"Is President Reagan asking me to step down?" Marcos asked Laxalt.

"President Reagan is not in a position to make that kind of demand," Laxalt replied.

"Senator, what do you think? Should I step down?"

"Mr. President, I’m not bound by diplomatic restraint. I am only talking for myself. I think you should cut. And cut cleanly. The time has come,” Laxalt said, with a combined air of authority and compassion.

Marcos did not speak for nearly two minutes, alerting Laxalt.

"Mr. President, are you still there?"

"I am very, very disappointed," Marcos said.

By this time, his feeling of an impending loss gave way to a firmer knowledge that he would have to leave Malacañan sooner or later in a disgraceful exit.
There is a book out written by the Irwin Ver, the son of General Fabian Ver that is recounting the day the Marcos had to leave Malacanang Palace after 20 years living there as President.

Fabian Ver (left), Presidential Guard Battalion Commander and Director of the Presidential Security Unit of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (right).

Remembered as a young man fresh out of University and in the first job following the news on the Phillipines' Yellow Revolution daily. Taking edited extract from a Phillipines website, Rogue:
The flight out

February 25: the fourth and final day of the uprising. Victory for the people was within reach.

In the palace there were last-ditch attempts at negotiations that failed as the hours drew nearer. Gen. Ver was willing to meet secretly with the rebels who, as Irwin was told, had asked to see his father alone. Ikaw lang ang gusto nila. They want to talk to you. It wasn’t clear what that meant, what the demands would be.

Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and Vice Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. (and future president) Fidel Ramos together with Colonel Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan

There was little love lost between Gen. Ver and the officers close to Enrile and Ramos. In their eyes, the chief of staff had made this happen, dividing the military over personal loyalties. The assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr. in August 1983, for which Gen. Ver had been accused, had set the time bomb for Marcos’s downfall.

The meeting never pushed through, in the precious ticking hours toward the swelling of people power. Irwin looked back with an earnest thought that there could have been room for compromise before February 25.

But the defections in the military went in rapid waves. People in the streets felt they were miraculous. Army units joining the sea of change nationwide was simply overwhelming as it turned. None would open fire.

If there had been negotiations under way, it would have had to be in a neutral country. Irwin had made arrangements for Hong Kong, but he planned that on take off he would tell the RAM rebels at the last minute that the meeting place would be changed to Singapore instead.

He had conjured a cloak-and-dagger scenario, changing into his Americana suit, a coat and tie, and ready to carry his James Bond attaché case with a secretly built Heckler and Koch tiny machinegun into the handle. He wanted to join his father. His father wouldn’t let him, no I want you to stay here.

All this came to naught when the telephone rang. It was the president calling. He asked to see Gen. Ver, and Irwin came along.

And so this he remembered clearly: that on that fourth day of the revolt when the tide was about to drown them, he walked up to the second floor of Marcos’s private quarters, the same stairs that Gringo would have taken in the final act of the coup.

That was when the president gave the order of a strategic withdrawal and Irwin wouldn’t hear of it.

“Mr. President, maybe we need a couple of hours to prepare our movement to the north so that we can protect our route.”

“No, that’s not necessary,” came the answer from Marcos.

Everything has been arranged.

His father nudged at his tail, tugging the back of his shirt. That’s enough talking from you, was the unspoken reprimand Irwin was getting from his father. When the commander-in-chief speaks, there will be no more questions asked.

But neither father nor son knew what has been arranged. The aide on duty told them boats will be coming. Philippine Navy boats? No one was certain. If that were so, they must be big enough to fit the entire family, the aides, and the nurses.

By this time chaos ensued, people going to and fro, rushing with bundles and boxes and packing and re-packing piles of documents, piles of cash. Night fell like a haunting mantle over the palace. Where were they to go now?

Hoping for a last stand

The last wave

They waited for the boats. In what was going to be the start of a long night, the floodlights glaring upon the palace garden became a flicker of a memory of their exodus. Urgent phone calls had to be made. Orders here and there. How could a coup plot they had discovered and averted change the outcome of a country’s destiny?

The President himself was leaving. He was carried down from the quarters of his palace in a wheelchair. He wasn’t wearing the barong Tagalog anymore. He was dressed sportily, in a shirt and cream-colored zip-up jacket and a brim hat that he wore when playing golf. The First Lady was in a pants suit that was in her fashion of those days.

There was a sudden change of plan: it will be helicopters instead of boats that will be plucking them out of Malacañang.

It did not occur to Irwin then that they were going to be exiled.

They were still thinking of holding the fort. We’re going to Paoay and we will tell the others when to follow, but then there was this feeling that once we leave, that’s it, it’s over.

In Irwin’s mind, right then, the palace in Ilocos Norte was going to be their fortress. He saw in almost everyone’s faces that this was going to be the end. In the silence of the night, he could see Marcos’s face, he knew it too, he’s leaving the presidency behind.

Irwin had felt it, the strains of losing, when they were discussing the withdrawal, that the president’s eyes had a tint of sadness and I was touched. I didn’t want to deal with that moment. If I did I might have cried, my voice might have betrayed me.

Three times, he remembered, the president had asked him about his family. Irwin regarded this as tender, personal moments between the two of them. The president had made it clear the Ver family should be joining him to the north; at that juncture, Irwin learned from Col. Aruiza, the president’s aide who had already changed into his civvies, that the choppers were on their way.

To his relief, Irwin saw they were American helicopters, a sign of hope that not all is lost. He whispered in a tone of surprise to Marcos’s son Bong Bong, who was beside him, kasama pala natin ang mga Americano dito? They’re with us?

Sshhh, be quiet.”

Bong Bong was wearing fatigues. He had been battle-ready even on the balcony when his father was declaring his election victory earlier. There is a memorable picture of the family on that surreal stage, the son ready for a fight, the worried faces of the mother and the daughters, the strongman raising his fist but faltering. 

The choppers didn’t land flat on the ground. They hovered in the middle of the golf course in Malacañang Park for a quick getaway.

The president had to be carried up to get on board. He and his daughters Imee and Irene and the adopted little girl Aimee were put in one chopper; the first lady and the son Bong Bong in the other.

Bong Bong made a wrong swerve, the helicopter’s landing bar hitting his chest. Irwin helped give him a proper push to board.

Gen. Ver made it, too, along with Irwin’s two brothers Rex and Wrylo, who were also with the presidential guards. Irwin was left behind with the nurses, waiting for the two more choppers that were coming to collect him and others who remained. The nurses were needed; they carried the milk and diapers of the children of Irene and Imee.

If he had known what was to come, he would have stayed. Put the nurses on board and then stay. Looking back on that critical moment, Irwin said that’s what he should have done. Yes he should have stayed.

In between the first batch of choppers that took the president and his family, the close-in aides, his father and brothers, and the second that took him and the nurses away, he had time to make a decision. He had time to move around giving instructions to the guards, what positions they must take to defend what little that had to be done in Malacañang.

The chopper carrying the president had left at roughly seven o’clock in the evening. Irwin left on the second round at about an hour later.

He’d taken the ride because he thought the president was asking after him. Later, he learned it was only his father calling for him through radio messages, and he regretted afterward having taken the flight.

I was the last one to board and when we were already 1000 feet above, it came to me that it was just dad waiting for me to join them. I felt very bad. I’d been talking to the other officers, okay let’s all plan out what we need to do, we will move to the north so pack your things. I even called the armory to make sure all the guns and ammunition will be taken there. I called the motor pool to find out how many vehicles we have. I called for the companies and they were ready to move anytime.

In about half an hour, he found himself landing in Clark Air Base just outside of the capital. Not in Ilocos Norte. Nowhere near Paoay.

The Marcoses in Hawaii

In Clark Air Base, they were in the hands of the Americans.

The historical and political analysis can be found in this official gazette of the Phillipines government here.

Heard rumours circulating that the children of a former Prime Minister has migrated earlier.

Apparently, few sources claimed one child and family migrated to London. Another had wife and children only moved to London while the father stayed behind. While, one sister and family moved to the US.

Off course, don't listen to rumour or fake news. Verify first. Will it be Argentina or Bosnia or Chechnya?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You didn’t mention his half brother Tun Daim, still walking with slippers. But putting his thumb print all over. He’s still around like a mouse. Maybe that’s why he use slippers at time he can walk silently on barefoot.

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