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FM’s final exit from Malacañang

‘President Marcos was quiet, but he kept the phone open. There was a pause. I did not want him to think that I was rude to him. So, I kept the phone open too. I could hear his deep and heavy breathing.”

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I read a post of Gerry Javier Jr. on Facebook last 21 September. The post was about Col. Irwin Ver’s version of what transpired in Malacañang on the final moments of President Marcos on late afternoon of 25 February 1986. I do not question the story of Col. Ver. However, I would like the general public to also know my version of those moments based on my personal knowledge. I have written about this earlier in my Memoir. My version is as follows:

“For the first time in our history, we had two sets of presidents and two sets of vice presidents at the same time. Even though it was only for a fleeting moment of less than a day, it depicted the uncertainty in and the turbulent nature of the country at the time. The country was teetering at the brink of civil war.”

“After the ceremony (the oath-taking of Corazon Aquino as president of the country) at Club Filipino, General Ramos and I went back to Camp Crame. I had a simple lunch. After that, I took a nap.

The stress and fatigue of the last few days began to take their effect on me. I slept until four o’clock in the afternoon.”

“When I woke up, the sun was bright. I dressed up hurriedly. I told my men that we were going back to Camp Aguinaldo. I saw General Ramos in his office and informed him that I was going back to my office in Camp Aguinaldo. I thank him for his hospitality.”

“My group marched in battle formation across Epifanio de los Santos Avenue all the way to my office in Camp Aguinaldo. When I was crossing Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, there were no more people in the whole stretch of that highway. The excited crowds that were there during the last few days were none to be seen. They were all gone. The place was quiet as though nothing had happened there at all.”

“I went up to my office. It was intact. Nothing was disturbed. All my things were there where I left them two days before. I wanted to call my wife, Cristina. But I refrained because the struggle was still going on.”

“I had not warmed up my seat in my office when Maj. Noe Wong entered my room and informed me that US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth was on the line. I lifted the phone, and I talked to him.”

“Ambassador Bosworth informed me that President Ronald Reagan issued a press statement warning President Marcos that any harm done to civilians would cause a rupture in the relation of the Philippines with the United States.”

“Even though Ambassador Bosworth did not say it explicitly, I understood the tenor of his conversation with me to mean that President Reagan had abandoned President Marcos. That was why President Marcos was warned not to harm civilians. If President Marcos had not heeded the admonition of the White House, the United States would have reacted adversely against him.”

“Ambassador Bosworth sounded very solicitous to me that afternoon, unlike on the first day of the Edsa Revolution when I talked to him. At that time he was aloof, and there was no trace of amiability in his tone. That Tuesday afternoon, his tone was friendly and deferent. I thank him for the information he gave me. Then I closed the phone.”

“Not long after, my Undersecretary Alfonso ‘Boy’ Reyno entered my office and told me that President Marcos was on the line. Boy Reyno said that President Marcos wanted to talk to me urgently. I picked up the phone and said, ‘Hello, Mr. President, what can I do for you?’ This was my third telephone conversation with President Marcos during the four days of the revolution.”

“’Johnny, he said, ‘some people are firing at the Palace. Kindly send your men to stop the firing against us.’”

“I said, ‘Mr. President, I have no men in your vicinity. I do not know those who are firing at the Palace. I will send General Olivas there to stop them.’”

“I was puzzled by his request. He had his Palace guards. I wondered why he had to turn to me to ask for help to stop an attack against his place. I did not know then, although I learned later, that his guards melted away and left their posts. They swam across the Pasig River to avoid the angry throng that gathered massively in front of Malacañang.”

“President Marcos said, ‘Thank you.’”

“’Your are welcome, Mr President,’” I said.

“Then, I continued. ‘By the way, Mr. President, Ambassador Bosworth called me a few minutes ago to inform me about the latest public statement of the White House.’”

“President Marcos was quiet, but he kept the phone open. There was a pause. I did not want him to think that I was rude to him. So, I kept the phone open too. I could hear his deep and heavy breathing.”

“Afterwards, President Marcos said, ‘Will you kindly call back Ambassador Bosworth and request him to ask General Teddy Allen and his group to help me and my family leave the Palace.’”

“’I will do that right away, Mr. President,’ I said, and I ended the call. I did not want to prolong our conversation.”

To be continued

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