US PRESIDENT Ronald Reagan, longtime personal friend of Ferdinand Marcos, himself confirmed that Cory Aquino asked the Americans to take the strongman out of the Philippines, despite his demand to be brought to his home province, Ilocos Norte. Reagan’s narrative is the fifth account* debunking the Yellow version of events.
The movie “Maid in Malacañang” has quite suddenly raised this in the public’s consciousness. Historical trivia it may seem, but it is a major revelation that should prod us to reevaluate how Cory captured power and what really was the EDSA event that brought Marcos down.
Ironically, it is the historian of the very strong Yellow bent, Lamberto Raymundo (“Ambeth”) Ocampo, who first reported Reagan’s account of this in his column of Aug. 10, 2022. His column though, as we shall see, is a case study of how even purportedly objective historians cannot accept reality even if it stares them in the face.
Following is the relevant portion of Ocampo’s piece, only very slightly edited for readability:
“The Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California made Reagan’s Daily Diaries for the years 1981 to 1989 accessible online. Entries relevant to Philippine history begin on the weekend of Feb. 22-23, 1986:
‘I got some homework done but also had conference calls regarding the Philippine situation. On Sunday morning, I approved a letter from me to Marcos begging him not to resort to force. His defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and acting chief of the Army Fidel V. Ramos** have resigned and taken some troops with them. At one point, Marcos ordered troops and tanks to go to where the rebels were based but 100’s of 1,000’s [sic] of civilians blocked them and the tanks turned back.
… Back in Washington, I met with Cap, John, George and Don in the situation room — well the room was full with representatives from State, Defense, Sec. Treasury, V.P., etc., and, of course, Philip Habib — just back from Manila. It was a long meeting with no disagreement but lots of frustration. Pres. Marcos is stubborn and refuses to admit he can no longer govern. I made the point that a message from me must appeal to him on the grounds that if there is violence I’ll be helpless to continue support for the Philippines. We must not try to lay down the law. All we can do now is send the message by way of National Security Council staffer Sigure who is in Japan and pray.
Feb. 24, 1986:
The day started at 5:30 a. m. with a call from John P. and Don R. The situation in the Philippines is deteriorating. The Marcos family and the Vers left the Palace and went to the airport. Then Gen. Ver apparently talked them out of leaving. Back in the Palace, they went on T.V. The Pres. and the Gen. They got in an argument. The Gen. wanted to launch an attack on the military that has gone over to the anti-Marcos people. The Pres. said no. Well, all of this ended in sleep for me.
In the office at 9 — the staff meeting and NSC were on the same subject. I was approving statements for delivery to the Pres. — pleading for no violence.
“… Then a call from Nancy — what to say to Imelda Marcos who was calling her? At the same time, I’m told by Paul Laxalt, Geo. S., John Poindexter and Don R. were coming in about Paul’s call to Marcos. We’ve agreed that he should be told I’m recommending he step down and we’ll take the lead in negotiating his safety and offering him sanctuary in the US. He says he wants to live out his life in the Philippines. Well we’ll try to negotiate that.
Feb. 25, 1986:
The call this morning was at 6:45. Pres. Marcos and his family and close circle, I was told, are in our Clark Airbase. We don’t know yet his destination but he’s said he wants to stay in the Philippines. He has a home in Northern Luzon. In the office, I was met by George S. and the V.P., Cap, John, Don, etc. We are ordering our Ambassador and others to contact Aquino to see if we could persuade her to accept his staying in the Islands with a promise of security. As the day went on, we learned she wasn’t going to do that. He incidentally is quite ill and is bedridden at Clark. By evening, we learned his party had left by medivac plane for Guam. He was carried to the plane on a stretcher.” [Emphasis by this columnist]
Feb. 26, 1986:
Pres. Marcos and his party departed Guam and are now at Hickam Field Hawaii. They will stay at the base possibly 72 hours then he will go to his home on Diamond Head — Yes, he has one there, too. The delay at Hickam is because of the large Filipino pop. — there might be demonstrations. We’re going to provide Secret S[ervice] protection for a limited time. So — no civil war and we’ve proceeded to recognize the new Philippine govt.'”
The last sentence of Ocampo’s column floored me: “Historians may disagree on the past, its presentation, nuances and meanings, but they always argue from established facts. EDSA 1986 happened, it will not change significantly despite the Marcos version of events.”
Didn’t he read his own column? Doesn’t the fact that Marcos was shanghaied out of the country swiftly by the Americans on Cory’s request, change our history of EDSA 1986? Was that, as Ocampo claims, merely a “presentation, nuance or meaning?”
Didn’t he understand that what he wrote was contrary to the Yellow version of the EDSA events that “Marcos fled Malacañang to Hawaii” that in reality he most probably thought that Reagan might give him a final favor and transport him and his party to Ilocos, where he could negotiate a power-sharing arrangement or rally his troops to undertake a counter revolution? Remember that contrary to the Yellow narrative, the heads of the Army, Navy and Marines were still loyal to their commander-in-chief and what Enrile and Ramos had were mostly the two dozen colonels of RAM, and their close comrades, and Cardinal Sin with his faithful. But then, as his own diary entry shows, Reagan betrayed him.
It was after Marcos had been brought out of the country, that the commanders changed loyalty, as Cory had been declared president — their commander-in-chief — by whom or what, to be frank, I would still have to research on. Email me if you know who or what.
*Read my column of July 25, 2022: “Cory stopped US from taking Marcos to Ilocos.”
** Rather, Ramos at this time was acting chief of staff, as Gen. Fabian Ver was suspended as chief of staff pending his acquittal by the Sandiganbayan of the charge of involvement in Benigno Aquino Jr.’s assassination. Ver, however, was acquitted in November 1985, and was expected to replace Ramos in the following months.
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