FOUR DAYS IN FEBRUARY
Veritas' Special Section on EDSA, February 19 to 25, 1987
TO MOST Filipinos, it all began with the cackle of voices over the transistor radio. “I was informed by my boys that there is to be an effort to arrest all members of the reformist movement. . .” then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile said, launching a revolt that would, within four days, oust an entrenched dictator and launch the Philippines into world history.
While the rebel leaders – Enrile and Gen. Fidel Ramos – scrambled to firm up support among the armed forces, civilian support marched in and around Camps Aguinaldo and Crame. “People Power” was a-borning.
Meanwhile, in Malacañang, the President and the loyal Gen. Fabian Ver rounded up suspects involved in the thwarted coup attempt that sparked the Revolt. Hours after the Enrile-Ramos broadcast, Marcos went on the air to parade officers who allegedly took part in the coup–Lt. Col. Jake Malajacan, Maj. Saulito Aromin and Maj. Ricardo Brillantes.
DAYBREAK, and aid and comfort from men, women and children of all walks of life poured into both camps. Inside, the tension built up, as battle raged across telephone lines. “Will you join us?” was all Gen. Ramos had to ask, and a field commander would reply: “Yes sir.” Still clutching his Uzi, RAM Col. Gringo Honasan sought solace from the sacrament.
CELEBRATED in lore and song, the EDSA Revolt took place on a stretch of concrete highway, bounded by Santolan Road in Cubao, and Ortigas Avenue in San Juan. Tanks rumbling towards Camp Crame were stopped on their tracks by thousands crying, cheering, praying and kneeling before their path. By noon of Day 4, Corazon C. Aquino, around whom the events leading to the past four days had swirled, took her oath as President of the Republic.
A FEW hours after Aquino’s oath-taking, the aging dictator pushed through with his own swearing-in. Marcos “People Power” was summoned, and a loyal band trickled through the Palace gates. Cut off from public view (television coverage conked out when rebels took over the station), the oath-taking was a sullen, silent affair. Husband and wife kissed before an uneasy audience who could not wait to leave the Palace grounds.
WITH news of the Marcoses’ leavetaking, a mob rushed the Palace, their way blocked from time to time by pitched street battles between Aquino and Marcos supporters. But at EDSA, it was time for celebration, for breathing the heady air of Freedom, for which we give thanks anew.
THE IDEA for a publication like Veritas had emerged in the spring of 1983, from within the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development (BBC), an organization composed of prominent businessmen of oppositionist inclinations and like-minded senior clergymen. There was a clear need for a truthful rendering of the news, they agreed, and yet the plan languished. It was Benigno Aquino’s murder and its tumultuous aftermath that finally provoked the BBC promoters, like so many others, into action.
Veritas became a hardy weekly of news and commentary informally affiliated with the local Roman Catholic Church. By September 1985 the news organization achieved a respectable national circulation of some 44,000.
In Veritas, one encounters the collective voice of the pivotal element of the Philippine political spectrum—the broad, confused, hopeful, and despairing Christian center. Its editorial preference for Corazon Aquino’s candidacy, together with the philosophical and emotional backing of the Catholic Church, made it small but potent force.