How the Philippines Averted Potential Civil War

 

It is February 7, 1986, the day of the Philippines presidential election. There are two contenders, long-time incumbent Ferdinand Marcos and challenger Cory Aquino, widow of an assassinated opposition leader. Everyone knows that Marcos will not give up power easily.

But if this election is clean, it could be a real contest. Mrs. Aquino’s most recent rally, which I attended, drew a reported one million participants. In any event, election monitors are in place throughout the country today, both Filipinos from the group NAMFREL, and international observers.

I am a Canadian election observer, working with NAMFREL in the troubled, newly-created province of Negros del Norte. As Election Day progresses, we encounter increasing intimidation and harassment from pro-Marcos forces. We are forced to stay fifty metres away from the polling stations, so we cannot see the actual voting.

Once voting is over, we try to follow a truck carrying away nine ballot boxes, but are forced off the road by speeding vehicles that pass and cut us off. Finding the school compound where ballots will be counted, we see it is full of heavily armed military personnel. I am allowed into only one school room. In that room, only one person, the counter, is allowed anywhere close to the ballot box.

So the count, which is supposedly going 20-1 for Marcos, cannot be verified by anyone.

Gathering back outside, we are targeted by a car that suddenly roars into the compound, careening very close to us twice. We decide to leave the area for our own safety. But we are followed and stopped by military men, shouting and threatening us with their weapons. Two key NAMFREL leaders are taken to the police station, and the rest of us follow.

There is much questioning, but finally everyone is released, and we drive out of town immediately to find safe places to spend the rest of the night.

According to official results, Marcos wins this election. But everyone—NAMFREL, the international observers and the general population – knows that this is a total fraud.

It takes only two weeks for Filipinos to take matters into their own hands.

Two leading military/defence officials mount a rebellion by barricading their forces into a military camp on a major Manila ring road. They are surrounded by Marcos troops.

But thousands of ordinary Filipinos, prompted by the country’s topmost religious leader, insert themselves in the middle, shielding the rebels. The Marcos forces are ordered to fire on these civilians, but no soldier can bring himself to shoot the priests, nuns and lay people protecting the rebels.

The siege continues for three days with no shooting, until a few casualties are reported. By then, more armed forces personnel are joining the rebels, who are fully aligned with Cory Aquino.

By February 25, it is all over. Cory Aquino is inaugurated as the new Philippines president that morning. Marcos flees the country the following day.

And so ordinary Filipinos save their country from a potential massive blood bath, and restore it to a state of peace and democracy.

Power to the People!

 

By: DJ Kiddo

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