The incident started when a Chinese Foreign Exchange trader who violated the peso-dollar trading band imposed by the then unofficial central bank, the Binondo Central Bank managed and headed by then Trade and Industry Secretary Roberto V. Ongpin (now Chairman of the PhilWeb Corporation).
Secretary Ongpin had the erring trader arrested and loaded into a van. Unfortunately, the Chinese trader is protected by the then Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Fabian C. Ver. Angered, Gen. Ver had 22 of Ongpin’s security men arrested. They were marching in full battle gear and dressed in SWAT uniform at about 4am inside Fort Bonifacio when arrested on February 22, 1986, a Friday.
At 11am, at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ongpin went looking for his security men. He called up the then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile who was with the Club 365 at the Atrium in Makati. Enrile thought that the coup plot against President Marcos was already discovered and the arrest of the 22 security men of Ongpin was part of the manhunt to imprison all destabilizers of the Marcos government. Apparently, these 22 men were members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement which was led by Colonel Gringo Honasan.
The Coup d’ Etat was being planned by Enrile and his RAM Boys. Enrile became disenchanted with Marcos, who was very ill at that time. He had also become wary of the palace faction led by Fabian C. Ver and the First Lady, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
Enrile summoned his boys to his house on Morada Street, Dasmariñas Village. There, they plotted their next moves. They decided to make a last stand at the Armed Forces Headquarters, the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. At 2 pm, Enrile called the then Vice Chief-of-Staff Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos who was also growing disenchanted with President Marcos. “Are you with us?” Enrile asked Gen. Ramos. “I am with you all the way”, answered Gen. Ramos.
It was not until late in the evening of February 23, a Saturday, that Ramos actually joined the rebellion at Camp Aguinaldo. He had contacted his loyal PC-INP commanders, like Rene de Villa in Bicol and, Rodrigo Gutang in Cagayan de Oro and was disappointed that no troops could be readily sent to Manila to reinforce Enrile’s men, then numbering less than 50, undermanned and under-armed.
Corazon C. Aquino learned of the breakaway of top Marcos officials at 4pm of Februay 23 in Cebu. She led a destabilization and boycott rally there. Aquino called Enrile and asked, “What can I do for you?”; “Nothing, just pray,” Enrile answered. To persuade more to get Aquino on his side, Enrile told her that she was the duly elected President in the 1986 Snap Elections. Enrile added that he cheated 300,000 votes in favor of Marcos in Cagayan de Oro and that he wants to restore peace and the rule of the people in the country. He will no longer support the illegitimate government of strongman President Ferdinand E. Marcos. This was believed by Cory Aquino and her supporters which led to the EDSA Revolution which lasted from February 22 to 25, 1986.
Reasons why Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos rebelled against President Ferdinand Marcos:
According to the book “Imelda and the Clans” by Beatriz Romualdez-Francia, Juan Ponce Enrile was very disgusted with the turn-out of events prior to 1986. In the late 70’s, Enrile learned of the very controversial Last Will and Testament of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. It is stated in President Marcos’ Will that in case of his death, he will be succeeded by his son Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos, Jr. as the “President” of the Republic of the Philippines. If Bong-Bong is not yet of legal age, Imelda Romualdez Marcos will act as Regent to her son and Fabian C. Ver will be the Chief of the “Praetorian Guards.” When Bong-Bong reaches the legal age of 18, he will take-over the reins of government and exercise the full powers of the Presidency. The line of succession of the government will be Bong-Bong followed by Imelda, then by Imee, Irene, Aimee, Fabian C. Ver and other Marcos Family members. Marcos has turned the Philippines into a Monarchy form of government. Enrile found out that he was not included in the line of succession and was not even included in the Regency Council. A plot of revolution started brewing in Enrile’s mind since then. (Unfortunately, this Last Will and Testament of President Marcos was also burned/stolen when rallyists stormed the Malacañang Palace on the night of February 25, 1986)
On the other hand, Fidel V. Ramos, a cousin of President Marcos on the father side, was disgruntled by the favor given by President Marcos towards General Fabian C. Ver (a cousin of President Marcos on the mother side). Ramos was Valedictorian of his class in PMA, a WestPoint graduate, a hero of the Korean War and various meritorious credentials that will make him the best choice for any position in the military; while Ver is a “nobody.” He was just the driver of President Marcos in the 1960’s and the only military training he had was the Citizenship Advancement Training (CAT) Program to which he was just a cadet and never handled any officer position. The greatest disappointment of Ramos was when he was bypassed by President Marcos for the position of Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and had Ver appointed instead. Ramos lost his loyalty to President Marcos since then.
The People Power Revolution of 1986 is full of lies and controversies. The very reason why it was initiated by Enrile and Ramos was because of their greed for the reins of power. They found a “legitimate” reason to revolt through the February 22, 1986 incident. This is the main reason why the Dictatorial Government of President Marcos was toppled in 1986 and replaced by the Revolutionary Government of President Aquino legitimized in 1987 through the ratification of the 1987 Constitution.
- What really happened at EDSA on February 22-25, 1986 by Antonio S. Lopez, BizNews Asia, Elder Statesman, April 30-May 7, 2012, Volume 10 No. 1
- Imelda and the Clans by Beatriz Romualdez-Francia
- Profile of Roberto V. Ongpin, BizNews Asia, Power 100 Issue, Volume 7 No. 43 (2010)