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Ferdinand Marcos Almost Caused Bloodshed in Edsa Revolution

A silent observer looking around. At times he must protect his identity with avatars and weird sounding names.

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The notion that history is written by the victors is both lazy and stupid. As a friend once said, such phrase was the favorite of people with too much philosophy, have no history study background, or just plain sloppy in research works. History is written by the historians, not the victors, through careful studies, research, record keepings, explorations and investigations. After all, the Battle of Thermopylae, Custer’s Last Stand, The Fall of the Roman Empire, the outcome of the Crusades, plus much more won’t be told to the public if there is a truth to that popular phrase. We could say then that history has nothing to do with one’s opinions or gossips, or even hearsays that one picked up in pubs. History is sweet science.

And going back to that phrase of history being wrote by the victors, that colorful play of words is now being used as a tool of misinformation. According to its proponents, no one will care about mainstream history we have today, if there are untold truths being suppressed by the victors. There are truths that could change the world if being told by the side of the losing team. Indeed, it reeks of pure ignorance, but somehow people actually believed that. And once, in a country in Southeast Asia, a peaceful revolution occurred that amazed the world. A dictator fell through peaceful means. But some jokers out there are twisting the truth by presenting their own fabricated version of so-called history. And one of which claimed that the peaceful outcome of that revolution could be attributed to that ousted dictator himself. Whereas propagandists presented him as a victimized martyr who refused to do harm to his fellow men.

Marcos Refusal to Retaliate?

Exiled Ferdinand Marcos with Imelda in Hawaii.

Exiled Ferdinand Marcos with Imelda in Hawaii.

We could say that the peaceful EDSA People Power Revolution wasn’t just a victory for the Philippines, but for the whole humanity as well. President Ferdinand Marcos 20-year reign was marred with corruption, violence, electoral fraud and abuses, and the people had enough. from February 22 to 25, 1986, a series of demonstration occurred, and it led to the removal of Ferdinand Marcos without violence or bloodshed.

The peaceful outcome of the revolution was almost miraculous in scale, but followers of the deposed president claim that it was due to the president himself. There was a video coming from pro-Marcos vlogger calling himself Sangkay Janjan showing how the late president ordered his General Fabian Ver to “disperse the crowd without shooting them.” In addition, a movie was being made to show this so-called side of the history that the victors refused to show, whereas Marcos was portrayed as peaceful, choosing non-violence out of concern to his country-men, almost like the victim.

People often pointed out that propaganda posts like these were meant to turn the table of history. That the participants of the bloodless revolution were mobs and savages as the pious Marcos tolerated them. And there are parts of history that the victors of EDSA revolution refused to show to the public. Nevertheless, like many of the stories made in favor of Marcos, there are lies behind the claims. The claims being circulated simply lacked context.

Call for Violence

Artilleries aimed at Camp Crame. Source: /hrvvmemcom.gov.ph

Artilleries aimed at Camp Crame. Source: /hrvvmemcom.gov.ph

In reality, the President Marcos was neither innocent nor a victim. To begin with, it was the failures of his administration and his weaknesses in his presidency that triggered the bloodless revolt. And during the duration of the revolt, Marcos planned to use force to suppress the demonstrations.

Marcos gave an order to Brigadier General Artemio Tadiar to deploy armored vehicles from Fort Bonifacio, to Camp Aguinaldo, while artilleries were positioned to aim at Camp Crame. He even made televised warning to end the mutiny with violence if they never yielded. His son, the future president Bongbong was seen wearing military uniform during those times, in anticipation of an armed encounter.

With the vehicles and weapons ready, the revolt should have ended in a horrific way. But it didn’t. Marcos did give an order to not shoot, but not out of conscience. He was overpowered by an officer deliberately delaying actions to fire, the United States Government, and the Catholic Church.

Unsung Heroes

Col. Braulio Balbas. Source: hrvvmemcom.gov.ph.

Col. Braulio Balbas. Source: hrvvmemcom.gov.ph.

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Many people probably never heard of Col. Braulio B. Balbas Jr, but in my opinion, he needs more recognition. Because if not for him, the EDSA People Power won’t be so peaceful.

Being the commander of the 4th Marine Provisional Brigade with two battalions under him, he was tasked to lead an assault on Ministry of Defense Building at Camp Aguinaldo. The mission was called-off when his men and vehicles were blocked by protesters. But he had a new assignment the following day. He will position his 05-millimeter howitzers on a golf course and aim them at Camp Crame, with the protesters in the line of fire. Then at 9:00 am, he received an order from Maj. Gen. Josephus Ramas to fire. Upon hesitation, he reported that the positioning of the artilleries was still ongoing, hence no shots were fired. More orders came in for Balbas to fire, but knowing that civilians were bound to get killed upon doing so, he again reasoned that the positioning was still ongoing. At 11:00 am, he was called back to Fort Bonifacio and he was relieved of his command. But his actions of delaying the order to fire saved a lot of lives that day.

Tha actions of Col. Manuel Oxales also played a role in the prevention of civilian casualties, when he appealed from the captured Channel 4 TV station to various officers to join the revolution, as well as for Col. Balbas Jr. To not to fire at the civilian protesters.


The U.S. and the Catholic Church

Jaime Cardinal Sin, one of the men of the moment.

Jaime Cardinal Sin, one of the men of the moment.

The influence of the Catholic Church also played a role in taming Marcos. Jaime Cardinal Sin was the head of the Manila Archdiocese back in the Martial Law days, and his preparedness to renounce the abuses of the Marcos regime earned him the admiration of foreign media for being progressive. And his influence helped rally the people to EDSA to stage a revolt and to protect the detractors from the Marcos regime.

Then, there was the U.S. Government.

The substantial aid coming from the U.S. Government was originally meant to fight communist insurgency, yet it ended in the pockets of the Marcoses and other corrupt officials. And President Reagan threatened Marcos with halting such military aids if violence broke, since what was meant to fight communism will end up supporting a civil war. Violence must be avoided at all cost, and money matters to Marcos. In the end, it was the U.S. that dissuaded Marcos to give it up.

Overall

Marcos avoided violence not out of conscience or goodwill, but due to pressures. He had plans to shed blood, but was thwarted by the officers in the field, the influence of the Catholic Church and the U.S. Government. Hence, he had no choice but to order Ver to hold his shots, or else. Reality was a far outcry from the propaganda videos being spread in various social media sites. Rather than a sympathetic man who became the victim of a mob, the real Marcos was a defeated tyrant whose darker plans were foiled.

History is not written by the victors after all, and in Marcos's case, history is being distorted by the losing side.

References

1. The Dilemma of General Tadiar’s forces at EDSA (24 February, 2021) Retrieved from https://hrvvmemcom.gov.ph.

2. Farolan, Ramon (24 February, 2014). "Forgotten heroes of 1986 Edsa revolt". Inquirer.net.

3. Claim: The 1986 EDSA People Power was bloodless because of Marcos (21 July, 2022) Retrieved from https://factsfirstph-partners.rappler.com.

4. Garcia, Mikee (25 February, 2022). "FACT CHECK | Video claiming Marcos did not want bloodshed during People Power lacks context". News.tv5.com.

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