Marcos's fall: how it happened. Reformists within the Army were the moving force behind the revolt -- not Aquino or Enrile or Ramos. Now that the dust is settling, some reformists are willing to discuss the details.
It was the intersection of two military plots that sparked the revolt that ended the 20-year rule of President Ferdinand Marcos. One plot originated in the Marcos government. The other was instigated by reformist military officers. The day before the Feb. 22 revolt, rebel leaders say, they learned of a plan by the Marcos government to round up opposition figures, to allege an opposition coup plot, and probably to declare a state of emergency. Rebel leaders say this Marcos plot was a total fabrication similar to the incidents contrived by Mr. Marcos to justify martial law in 1972.Skip to next paragraph
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In fact, there was a plot, but not the one the Marcos government had in mind. Instead, members of the military reform group, usually known as RAM, were planning a suicide attack on Malacanang, the presidential palace. Their plan was either discovered or deliberately leaked (opinions in RAM differ) just before the Feb. 22 uprising. As the revolt developed, RAM members say, they received help from the United States and other quarters.
What now seems clear is that RAM was the moving force behind the revolt -- not Corazon Aquino, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, or Gen. Fidel Ramos. RAM may even have choreographed the uprising. At least on the record, some RAM members still deny that an attack was planned. Others are now willing to discuss the details.
The assault was to be launched at 2 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, says Lt. Col. Eduardo Kapunan, chief of intelligence at the Defense Ministry and a founding member of RAM. RAM members mostly from the Defense Ministry were to have launched a three-pronged, commando-style assault.
Colonel Kapunan, with 80 men from the ministry's security unit, would attack through Malacanang Park, which houses the Presidential Security Command's headquarters. A second group, this one of 30 men, under the Defense Ministry chief of security, Col. Gregorio Honasan, would attack the palace from the Pasig River, which runs past the palace. A third group would attack the walls of the palace with demolition charges.
The explosion of five car bombs -- one at the palace gas depot, four near the armories -- would be the signal for the attack, Kapunan says. The plotters were helped in their plans by ``at least six'' officers of the Presidential Security Command who were RAM sympathizers, he adds.
``We wanted to capture the President and ask him to reconsider everything,'' Kapunan says. Other RAM officers say they simply wanted Marcos to step down. They decline to say what they would have done if he resisted.
The attack would not have worked, says Colonel Honasan. ``Given the extra troops put into Malacanang in the week before, the attack would have been a wipe-out,'' Honasan says. ``But just by initiating it, we would have won. We'd have shown 54 million Filipinos that there were military men ready to die for their people.''
Elsewhere in the city some four to five battalions led by RAM sympathizers were to have launched diversionary attacks.
The plot was put together late last year, RAM members say. RAM was considering moving before the Feb. 7 election, but decided against it, even though members were almost certain that Marcos would fix the election. After Feb. 7, however, ``the only question was when, not if, we would move,'' a RAM leader says.
``The armed forces had become so weakened by lack of credibility that we couldn't go any lower,'' says Honasan. ``Constitutional reforms were out of the question. The Ver-Marcos power bloc had already consolidated everything -- the judiciary, the legislature, the executive,'' he added. Gen. Fabian Ver was Marcos's chief of staff.