MY EDSA DOS AND TRES DIARIES
Michael Charleston “Xiao” B. Chua, Tarlac City, 16 years old
Note: I am publishing this account twenty years after I wrote it as I begin to realize that this event is already unfamiliar with the newer generation. Although I was not there during the event itself, I collected a bigger picture raw and contemporaneous account based on events being reported on television at that time. There was only text messaging for many people, the internet at that time was not available to majority of Filipinos. Social media, even Friendster, was not even there yet. My opinions on certain personalities and issues in these diary entries, and my tone relating to the EDSA Tres crowd, were based on information and views what were available to me at that time and had changed over time. It might not reflect my present views as a historian.
CHAPTER 1: EDSA DOS
THE STORY OF PEOPLE POWER II IN THE EYES OF A TV VIEWER FAR, FAR AWAY
It’s the 21st of January, the sun rises in the east this great Sunday morning. Although sick, I feel perfectly well just like most of us. A new hope, a new beginning for the Philippines—land the sun loves.
But looking back a week before, it was impossible to even think it will happen again. But it did happen! And we never knew it would be that fast! I’m still wondering: Did it really happen?
16 January. 2001, afternoon
It all started that fateful night of 3 October, just last year. Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson thought that his friend, President Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada was out to have him killed. Chavit then accused Erap of being “The Lord of All Jueteng Lords”, was receiving P 400 Million of illegal gambling collections.
Elected under the campaign guise of “Erap para sa. Mahirap”, man of the masses, two years ago, Estrada was so popular with the poor. Having played defender of the poor in his superb performances as an actor and publicized with his bad English and womanizing, the masses thought that a president was at last raised from their ranks.
After Chavit’s juetenggate, came exposes of the extravagant lives and mansions of the president. his family and his mistresses. How can he do this to the masses that brought him to power? While the masses are hungry, buried in crises, he is engaging in vices of monumental proportions in financial terms. While many are still homeless, fighting the cold of night, he had palaces built that’s worth hundreds of houses of the poor.
The clamor for Estrada’s resignation grew stronger headed by Manila’s powerful Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, and charismatic Former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino. But not strong enough. Most are still blinded. Still, all these will lead to the Senate Impeachment Trial against Estrada. And now the TV will have a role in shaping the nation more than it did before.
The prosecution panel against the president revealed in the impeachment trial that an account in the name of Jose Velarde was actually owned by the president (The signature in the Jose Velarde account is similar with that of the president’s). It was confirmed when Equitable-PCI Bank Senior Vice President Clarissa Ocampo testified that the president signed Jose Velarde, “I was one foot away.”
2 o’clock in the afternoon was the most awaited time every day because it is the start of the hit soap opera which was: The impeachment trial! To us, it was…entertainment more than a political trial. For we were informed about court rules and legal gobbledygook’s. We are now talking to each and every one especially with our classes, “Your honor!”. More importantly, we were informed of the corruption done by Pres. Estrada and his minions. Every day, we were glued in the TV set for the first impeachment trial in Asia.
Although the hope of getting Estrada convicted is getting dim because of mere technicalities by the counsels of the president, and although the clamor for Estrada’s resignation carried on to the streets, I still believe in the constitutional process which was the impeachment. In my heart, I hope that the senator-judges will be fair enough in their judgment and will uphold principle over partisanship, the truth over money…
16 January 2001, minutes before midnight
All the while, I trusted them…but they failed me.
Tonight was a turning point in the Impeachment Trial. The court was debating on whether to open or not to open the second envelope on the Jose Velarde account which according to the prosecution contains [information on] a 3.2 Billion account. The presiding officer, Chief Justice Hilario Davide was to make a ruling on opening the envelope. But Sen. Francisco Tatad told the court that the opening should be ruled out through the 21 senators’ vote.
I, with the whole nation, watched the senators voted. The opening of the Second Envelope would determine if the account was really the president’s. I thought that the senator-judges would like to know the truth just like how eager the Filipino people is to know the truth. At last, we would know…
But eleven senator-judges voted not to open the envelope. Those who would like to open the envelope were outnumbered, na “onse” ang bayan! At that moment, I began cursing the eleven with all my heart! Those bastards… “mga p*t*ng in* nila!” The president might have betrayed the public trust…in secret, but these eleven have betrayed the public trust in [front of] our very eyes! What a shame. I lost my trust with the senate as an impeachment court because the eleven voted for partisanship, not for the truth. I really cursed them, I really hated them!
Because of his “yes to open” vote, Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel resigned as Senate President. The senators who voted with him cried. I cried with them. It was the death of truth and justice in this country.
As the senator-judges who voted “no to open” celebrated, Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta even danced awfully in the halls of the senate. What would his brother Ninoy Aquino say if he was alive today. The people were so furious! They lost hope in the impeachment trial. They would be so happy to bring the trial…to the streets!
As early as 11:00 pm that same night, two hours after the senate’s decision, many people were already in the streets and had a noise barrage simultaneously in Metro Manila. I was still watching TV then. I could hardly sleep. I was so concerned.
This is revolution!!!
17 January, 2001, afternoon
This morning, I stood in front of my fellow students in the morning assembly. Wearing an “Erap Resign” wristband, I appealed to them “Why should you be concerned with all of these? If true, the money that your parents are working hard for and is paying to the government…Where does it go? To Erap!!!”
I continued, “And the jueteng money that your father loses… Where does it go? To Erap!!!” An applause made me pause. Then I said, “We should have known by now what is the truth, but these eleven…” Then I showed them a tabloid cover featuring the eleven’s images as I continued, “…prevented us from knowing the truth! Now we know those whom your parents have voted…impotents!!!” And a loud clap ended my statement. My fellow young people should know.
Later this morning, all of St. Matthew Christian Academy prayed for a peaceful resolution of this crisis. “Thy will be done”, we echoed as one.
When I came home earlier this afternoon. I opened the TV and I was surprised to see the throngs gathered in front of the EDSA Shrine. Thousands of people have filled its intersection and the flyovers on it. And many people have vowed never to leave EDSA not until Erap resigned!!! Simultaneously, protests were held in major cities nationwide.
The revolt was supported by Cardinal Sin, Cory Aquino and the elite.
At this point, the country was in constitutional crisis: The Senate was damaged, the house, paralyzed. The prosecution team had resigned. The impeachment hanging…
Thank God the people have spoken! We’ve been suffering with this ordeal for so long. I was greatly affected. At this point, I’m praying to God for this country badly wounded and so divided. I knew God will make a way. God will…
“Lord, heal our land!!!”
18 January, 2001, afternoon
While sleeping, an unexpected news came. So unexpected, I woke up and almost fell off my bed. This afternoon, Nora Aunor speaking against Erap? Are my eyes fooling me? Are my ears sick? She had been the foremost actress campaigner for the president, now she is telling Estrada to resign? Everything was true. She said she had suffered so much in the campaign trail, often neglected. This is important for the clamor of resignation. At last, someone from the president’s circle of friends is telling Estrada to resign, whatever her motives are.
19 January, 2001, minutes before midnight
It’s my birthday!!!
I told myself, “Erap will not step down, this crisis will take too long!” Nothing’s been happening with the rallies So in the afternoon, I went downtown with my girlfriend [name withheld] and my friend Mayo to watch the parade, it is festival season in our city… Tarlac City. If only I am in Manila, I could have been in EDSA.
But at about 5:00 pm, I went with my girlfriend to her house in a remote area. I can hear shouts of “Erap remain” outside. Anyway, she turned the TV on and although black and white, I can clearly see and hear the news of Defense Secretary Orly Mercado and AFP Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes’s defection from the Estrada administration. They were submitting to the will of the people at EDSA. One by one, police and military officers, cabinet members and supporters were withdrawing their support from the administration. The government was paralyzed.
This is People Power II…The point of no return for Estrada… And there’s no turning back!
When I returned home at 6:00 PM, Pres. Estrada was currently appearing on TV calling for a snap election in May and vowed not participate in it!
Personally, it’s unacceptable. It was unconstitutional. For a snap election to take place, the president and vice president should vacate their posts.
I started tuning in on GMA-7 to watch and record the events as they unfold on VHS. My friend, Mayo, came. Mayo, who lost his interest in history and national affairs regained it when together, we watched tanks rolling in Malacañang grounds to protect the President. And we wondered what will happen to Estrada if ever arrested. Will he be brought to EDSA to be annihilated and humiliated?
Rumors were spreading that Estrada has already left Malacañang. A rumor quickly rectified by friends of the president coming out of the palace.
Church band members Roodz and Chris Mark visited me and Mayo. Chris Mark just arrived straight from EDSA. He recounted his experience: The loud yelling and cheering was so loud, you must shout in order for your companion to hear you.
When the three left my house at about 10:00 PM, I was glued to my TV screen and witnessed the EDSA Shrine crowd at its peak: 1.8 Million people singing anti-Erap songs and dancing anti-Erap tunes. APO Hiking society headed the crowd in singing John Lennon’s peace chant, “All we are saying is Erap Resign!”
Before I went to slumber, beginning to feel sick, I heard the news that a three-man transition team was already negotiating with the administration on Estrada’s graceful exit. But the people already gave a deadline for Erap to step down. 06:00 AM tomorrow or they will march to Mendiola, the street leading to the presidential palace – Malacañang.
20 January, 2001, dawn
Although sick, I woke up again this morning at 2:00 AM. I turned the TV screen on again. I heard that the negotiations had broken down. The militant groups are now preparing for their march to Mendiola at 6:00 AM if Erap won’t resign. This is so thrilling to watch out: What will happen if people power meets people power? Remember, the pro-Erap group! are still in Mendiola. The Cardinal advised the people to stay at EDSA because according to him, an event everybody is waiting will come later at noon.
I received a text message from my teacher, Ms. Jett Paras. She is in Manila today. She’s so blessed to be there. She had seen a rumble between pro and anti-Estrada groups in Makati. It was bloody she said!
Speaking of text messaging, as of writing, millions of messages are passing nationwide, many ’bout the clamor for Erap resignation. If EDSA will succeed, Joseph Estrada will be the first president to be ousted by text messaging.
I’ll sleep again. ‘Till victory is ours…
20 January. 2001. mid-morning
When I woke up, the sun was already high and the marchers have already left for Mendiola. I saw everything on TV… “Ang daming tao!” Meanwhile, in Mendiola itself, the pro-Eraps are preparing for a clash. We see movements, chaos on TV. Their leader was Atty. Oliver Lozano, counsel to the Marcoses. I wonder why he is always on the wrong side of history! Anyway, he is also the counsel for Muslim rebel groups.
20 January, 2001, 11:00 AM
The marchers from EDSA shrine were coming nearer and nearer to Mendiola. They are unstoppable! Showing streamers such as “Go to hell!” and shouting “Erap resign…now!”, they will outnumber the remaining Pro Eraps who are firm in defending their idol. If the people power will meet the other people power, surely there will be a clash! I just pray that this will be avoided. High emotions may lead to violence.
These scenes should make Estrada realize it’s over. Does he not realize it’s over? It’s over, men? But still no words coming from the palace in my good ole TV. Except for helicopters hovering over the palace area, maybe convincing Estrada that the military had turned against him.
At last! Minutes ago, Bro. Mike Velarde had a telephone broadcast at GMA 7 saying, “That the nation should be calm now for he is ministering to the president to be prepared for the reality. He told me he would leave Malacañang…” But the time was still indefinite.
Now, the protesters have come face to face with the loyalists. Only police and barricades are dividing them! The anti-Eraps were so furious they are being stopped. Also, the marchers from other points in Metro Manila are coming.
20 January, 2001, noon
The anti-Eraps were so furious and unstoppable that they broke into military and police lines and ran wild to the intersection of Mendiola and Legarda. They destroyed the stage and a tent built by the Estrada supporters. But they respected the barricade at the foot of the Chino Roces monument and did not proceed to the palace meters away.
Any minute now, the Vice President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be sworn in as President of the Philippines by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. How about Erap? Speculations came out, that Estrada already resigned, that Estrada is preparing to sign the resignation document. But in a phone call to GMA 7’s Maki Pulido Estrada said he will leave the palace on Wednesday, the 24th after they finished packing, “Masama ang loob ko sa nangyayari!” But he stresses that he is not resigning.
20 January, 2001, 12:19 PM
The people at EDSA had won!
Gloria just sworn in “to fulfill my duties as President of the Philippines” in front of the cheering jubilant crowd at EDSA Shrine. The whole government of the Philippines signified their support to the new president by the presence of their top leaders, the military, the Supreme Court, the Senate and the House of representatives. The pro-Erap House Speaker, Arnulfo Fuentebella was [present but was] booed by the crowd.
She now delivers her inaugural address. In the beginning of her speech, she quoted the good book [Bible]. “It is now…a time to heal and a time to build!”
She also echoes the words of a Filipino martyr, Ninoy Aquino, “I have carefully weighed the virtues and faults of the Filipino and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for.”
She also speaks about her four core beliefs:
1. We must be bold in our national ambitions.
2. We must improve moral standards in government and society.
3. We must change the character of our politics in order to create fertile ground for true reforms.
4. Finally, I believe in leadership by example.
20 January, 2001,2:00 PM
There were reports that Estrada already left Malacañang.
Earlier TV viewers stopped to see some Presidential Security Guards running. A friend of Erap came out to explain that Erap was just bidding his guards farewell.
Also Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes was spotted on the Pasig River on his way to the palace. Maybe, to accompany the President on his way out.
Somebody came out of the sentry gate and distributed a statement from no less than the president of the Philippines Joseph Ejercito Estrada, excuse me, FORMER president.
In his statement, he said that he has strong and serious doubts about the legality and constitutionality of Gloria’s proclamation as president. But he also added that he does not want to be a factor that will prevent the restoration of unity and order in our civil society.
“It is for this reason that I now leave Malacañang Palace, the seat of the presidency of this country, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation…I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity.”
Then Maki Pulido reported that she heard reports that Estrada already left Malacañang.
20 January, 2001, 2:20 PM
Then suddenly, the sentry gate opened and a soldier came out. He announced that the former president wants the media to see his departure and that Erap was actually still inside. The media ran, the TV viewers stopped and sat.
There were no live cameras, only radio voice overs. When the announcer said that the Estradas are coming out of the Presidential Residence, we heard the media scrambling to get a statement from the former president and struggling with the Presidential guards.
Only when Maki Pulido came back running to the live TV camera at the sentry gate, did we see footage of Estrada and his family accompanied by the Chief of Staff who turned against him yesterday, and his friends who remained with him to the end.
Now we see the Estrada couple waving to the crowd, saying “Thank you!” to the guards just before they boarded the boat out of Malacañang to the other side of the Pasig.
Months ago, Erap said of his enemies, “Pupulutin sila sa kangkungan!” He did not realize that his “kangkungan” was the Pasig, the river at the back of his palace.
21 January, 2001, night
A text message reads, “HAPI OUSTER SUNDAY 2 OL! Yestrdy was SABADO DE GLORIA & d other day was a vry GOOD FRIDAY!”
The text nation is in celebration. The phone messages kept the country connected and alive against Erap. He became the first Philippine President that was ousted with the help of text. A coup d’text!
And of course, who owns most of the text? No less than the youth! Who said that they didn’t care for the country? They did in EDSA Dos. Young people, we can do something! We can party yet we care. Anyway, this is how we turn EDSA Dos to, festive and merry! Carry on!
Information runs fast in an epoch of technology and the media. This conclusion can be proven with the well-informed people who gathered at EDSA. They knew, that was why they were there. They knew what Erap had done, that was why they felt that he did not deserve the post.
For years, we doubted that the spirit of EDSA was still in us Filipinos. It was answered in those four days as seen on the TV screen and as recounted by eyewitnesses. Take what our principal, Ma’am Jett, had seen. She was passing EDSA at the height of the protests, and saw the crowd being generous to each other, sharing something to eat or drink. Then, she turned her eyes and saw the many people sweeping the road, and they were not even paid for it. This is the spirit so Filipino—the spirit of “Bayanihan”—of working together. And in one shining moment, that is EDSA, the people were one.
It was the crowd the Supreme Court saw that made them declare the presidency vacant and swore in the Vice President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to the presidency; it was the same crowd Estrada saw that made him leave the presidential palace.
Former President Cory Aquino and Cardinal Sin, and those politicians on stage at EDSA. may have contributed in the victory. But the real heroes of EDSA are those millions of nameless and faceless Filipinos who were not on the stage, but down, at EDSA and around the country who offered not blood, sweat, toil and tears, but love, prayers, time and laughter. In a peaceful manner, we toppled a dictator in 86′, we did it again!!! May this serve as a warning for our leaders never to betray us…For we can do it again!!!
Whatever the West may think of us, we should never lose faith in what we could do as a community, what we could accomplish if we’re united in one goal. We should believe in ourselves in order for others to believe us. Let’s start with ourselves!
Just like what we did as St. Matthew Christian Academy students at the first hours of the mobilization that is EDSA Dos. We, the young people, were one in prayer, asking God to guide the nation in facing the crisis of the presidency that affected everyone. “Thy will be done!” We echoed as one. And yes we too are heroes!!!’
So, not only was the Filipino spirit magnified, but the greatness of God. For we, as a people, relied on our Wreator for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. It was God I saw who moved and made the impossible happen, and made it that fast. If not because of the bitter events in the impeachment trial, we could still be waiting for a resolution. God made it happen in order to tell us that His will is much better than what we thought was best. God listens…and He never sleeps!
Now, we see the image of a merciful God. As Jamie Rivera sang it as the theme of EDSA Dos echoing God’s promise in the Second Book of Chronicles, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and, pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will hear their land.”
Yeah! God will hear our broken lives.
Well, how about “Madamme President”? I think she becomes the number one beneficiary of all our efforts as heroes of EDSA in her ascendancy as “Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo”. She told us on her first speech as occupant of the presidential palace that she has no grandiose dreams of becoming a great president, “I just want to be a good president…So help me become a good president!”
All I have to say is she needs our help badly in picking up the broken pieces of our country. Earlier this night she said in a prayer rally, “Pray for me so that I may become a good president…”
And as I see the sunrise, I see hope. A hope for a better tomorrow. But a better tomorrow will come to us only if we share the responsibilities of rebuilding the nation. We should not rely completely on the government, we too, must act. For EDSA, contrary to what others are saying, is not just the five-day vigil and party in front of a bronze statue, but a continuous revolution. We are almost forgetting that a true revolution is not a mere change of leadership, but a change of society. Good shot, Prof. Randy David!
And as I see my ever-reliable TV, I see hope! But the battle is not yet finished. We should not let our guard down. We should continue watching. And with my good ole’ TV, I’ll sure be continuing my watch.
I saw history unfold on my TV, as they happened. That’s why I feel prouder to be Filipino. For I know what the Filipino can accomplish together with the help of the Almighty. As my kababayan Ninoy Aquino, who have “Faith in the Filipino, Faith in God,” put it in words, “The Filipino is worth dying for!”
And also, I know that our children, our grandchildren will not judge us for we did something. Sure, they’ll all be proud of us…for we did this for them.
But looking again on my TV screen, I see the image of a poor lady a-cryin’ and a-shoutin’ “Erap Remain!” The masses still believe their idol. What is to become of them?
SINO ANG TUNAY NA BAYANI
(Isang Talumpating Pagpupugay sa Tagumpay ng EDSA Dos)
(Delivered on the first St. Matthew Christian Academy Morning Assembly after Pres. Joseph “Erap” Estrada’s ouster. In celebration of the victory of EDSA 2 and the victory of our prayers. God is good!)
Alam kong medyo sawa na kayo sa ‘kin pero…
Gusto ko lang mag-share. Maganda kasi yung nangyari. Iba yung nakita kong scenario. Hindi pulitiko ang nagpaikot sa EDSA. Yung mga tao, nagsama-sama. Hindi kaya ng kahit na sinong pulitiko ang gawin ‘yon dahil matagal na yang mga pulitiko na nagsasalita sa TV pero hindi pa rin nila napag-iisa yung mga tao. Bigla, nagkaisa!
Naniwala tayo nun sa impeachment process, na magiging fair ang mga judges. Ako, sa loob-loob ko may hope ako. Sana yung ibang senador, kahit hindi na si Miriam, lumambot ang puso. Pero yun na nga… partisanship ang nangyari. Nagalit ang mga tao, as early as 11 o’clock nung gabing bumoto sila ng “no” to open the second envelope, yung mga militanteng grupo, yung mga tao lumalabas na, nag-iingay na sa Manila. At dahil na rin sa text, ne?
Alam n’yo isa lang ang dahilan n’yan, si Lord. Si Lord talaga ang dahilan, palakpakan natin si LordI
Isa ako sa nagsasabing hindi na mauulit ang EDSA kasi iba na ang pag-iisip ng taño. Wala na silang pakialam sa nangyayari sa bansa. Pati yung mga kabataan ngayon, sabi ko, “Naku! Medyo hopeless na kami kasi wala na kaming inisip kundi gumimik wala kaming inisip kundi mga sarili namin, ang mga syota namin!” Pero hindi. Bigla naisip natin ang bayan. Sino ang nagpakilos sa kabataan? Ang Panginoong Diyos!
Sino ang nagpakilos sa mga tao? Ang Panginoong Diyos! Kaya hindi dapat natin siya kalimutan.
Isa pa, may narealize ako. Sabi kasi dito (Will show the pictures of the 10 senator-judges who voted “yes” to open) Ang sampung Hurado—Bayani ng Bayan”. Bigla na-realize ko na mayroon pa palang mas bayani sa kanila….
Ito, sila ang mas mga bayani sa kanila (Will show the pictures of the 11 senator-judges who voted the other way). Naniniwala ba kayo? Na ang mga tuta ni Estrada? Kasi kung hindi dahil sa kanila, hindi nagsimula ang EDSA. Sila ang ginamit ni Lord para magalit ang mga tao. Sila ang ginamit ni Lord para mag-aklas, pumunta sa strits ang mga tao.
In-oust na natin si Erap sa Malacañang. Pero ousting Erap is not enap. Magpray pa rin tayo dahil hindi pa tapos ang laban! Nung nanumpa na si Gloria, nung magba-bye na si Erap, hindi dun natapos ang laban natin. Hindi dapat tayo maging relax.
Oo, hindi nga tayo sumama sa EDSA pero may parte tayo sa nangyari. Tayo yung nanalangin. Tayong lahat dito sa St. Matthew.
Oust Erap, but his ouster is not enough. Dapat kumilos pa rin tayo, manalangin tayo. Oo nga, malayo tayo, nasa Manila sila. Manalangin tayo.
Last na lang, sino nga ba ang tunay na bayani ng EDSA? Maliban pa sa ating Panginoon. Alam kong hindi ito yung mga pulitikong nag-defect nung last minute. Oo, malaki yung tulong nila, yung mga cabinet secretaries at mga military. Lalong hindi si Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Ang bayani ng bayan: Sila, na pumunta sa EDSA. Sila na mga nananalangin tulad n’yo, tulad ko. Tayo ang mga bayani ng EDSA!
-22 January, 2001
CHAPTER 2: EDSA TRES
POSTSCRIPT TO SWITCH-OFF
The events that challenged our idea of People Power
25 April, 2001, noon
I was with [name withheld] in our house at [Exact address withheld] Fairlane watching TV, when a news conference flashed on the screen. It was Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena announcing that the warrant of arrest for Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada for plunder cases was already out. That was an hour ago.
This is but a historical moment. Erap will be the first president to be arrested for plunder (For we never arrested the Marcoses, but the second president to be arrested per see. The first one was President Jose P. Laurel after the war for being a collaborator.)
I just accompanied [Name withheld] to a tricycle to her house at [Address withheld]. I was left alone in the house to wait for news on TV.
What is taking them so long?
25 April, 2001.2:00 PM
Days ago, Atty. Raymond Fortun announced that if ever a warrant of arrest for Erap would be out, Erap himself would surrender to the Sandiganbayan after two hours of the announcement of the warrant.
The arresting officer ignored this announcement, for they are already at Greenhills to arrest Erap. They are being blocked by thousands of Erap supporters who are camping out of Greenhills in anticipation of Erap’s arrest. Night and day, they were ready to defend their idol, even fight and DIE for him.
And they did. Earlier, they were being dispersed to make way for the arresting officers. But water tanks and clubs have no match to the defiance of the poor people still believing that Erap is their savior. Beaten and wounded, even thrown to the canal, still they stood firm, “Erap remain!”
Erap is a blessed man. So blessed with the charisma and the love of his supporters. So loved, many are willing to die for him. It’s not that the masses who loved him so much do not have eyes to see, no! It’s much deeper than that. It’s roots span three decades. We should look back at Erap “Da Artista” who portrayed many roles defending the poor or championing their causes. His lack of education and English proficiency all add up to his charisma to the masses. They could connect and relate to him. He is not poor per se, but he made the masses feel he is one with them!
The drama is now on its third hour and still is running. Is this not long enough to arrest a former president and his son, Jinggoy? Thanks to GMA-7’s Mel Tiangco and the spokesman of the private prosecutors in the impeachment trial, they filled the gap with substantial commentary. Excellent enough to make me stay on watching TV without anything really happening.
I think if only the police waited for Estrada’s surrender and did not attempt to arrest him in his residence at Polk Street, it’s [probably] over. But then again, maybe Estrada himself asked the arresting officers to accompany him from his residence, for the Estradas could never pass through their die-hard supporters.
Still no movement at Polk Street. The police are still trying to get through. [There were reports of media men being harassed by Pro-Eraps]. Arnold Clavio was almost beaten to death when he came out of the Estrada residence at Polk Street. Arnold was conceived to be an Anti-Erap. Today he is scheduled to interview the president.
Estrada supporters blame the media for the humiliation and downfall of their hero.
25 April, 2001, 3:00 PM
At last, something happenin’!
Earlier, Estrada released a video statement about his arrest and detention. Aside from his comments and grievances to the media and the administration, he made a litany of his achievements and Pro-poor projects.
He said that with his ouster, the constitution was violated. According to him, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should have replaced him as president only if he died, became disabled, convicted in the impeachment trial or resigned. He said his situation didn’t fit any of the four that he is still the legitimate president, and that Gloria is just an acting president.
[But] the Supreme Court had already ruled out on the legitimacy of the Arroyo Government. An overwhelming 13-0 for the third time. Their basis “Salus populi suprema est lex”, the welfare of the people is the supreme law. And Estrada’s Executive Secretary Edgardo Angara’s Diary where it states that Estrada allegedly said, ‘I’m tired, I wanna rest!” as basis for his resignation.
Because of his claim that he is still the president. Estrada questioned the charges against him. He claims immunity from suit. His supporters are also questioning his arrest. He is not a criminal, they said, he’s not yet convicted so why is he being put to jail?
I understand that they do not understand what the law states or maybe some of them do not, that plunder is a non-bailable offense, and that he should be detained in order to assure presence in court. There are two detention centers in the choice list: The Former PAOCTF detention cell, the former building which holds the Anti-Crime Task Force he organized; and a bungalow type cell in Fort Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa Laguna, a facility air conditioned and barricaded with three fences, built a month ago in anticipation of Erap’s detention.
Minutes ago, a phalanx of crowd control policemen dispersed the crowd of Pro-Erap supporters with their shields and clubs. A mega tolerance policy is in effect, but to the much defiant a club will fly to your head! I saw one policeman beating an Erap supporter but a comrade stopped him immediately.
Just minutes and the police force are knocking at Estrada’s door. They immediately surrounded the road to avoid the return of Pro Eraps. Because of the over acting “a-climbin’ the gates” policemen, many mistook the thousand policemen as the arresting team. Actually, the actual arresting officers came when the place was already secured and as of writing, they’re still inside negotiating.
Tomorrow’s papers will headline this story, with a picture of a brave woman stopping the policemen with a hose of water. Good try though.
25 April. 2001. 3:20 PM
The Erap supporters who ran frantically when the police dispersed them are now looking helpless as the former president and his family are being led away in a black van. Looking at the top view of Polk Street, it looks like a funeral. He will be brought to Crame for finger printing and mug shotting before detention.
Man, the police surrounded black van really looks like a funeral cortege! Does this signify the death of Estrada’s political career?
25 April, 2001, 5:30 PM
From Camp Crame, new footage are coming out. The former president and his son were being fingerprinted and mug shots being taken. This is due to the Estradas having plunder cases [against them], but as former president in this situation, the Filipinos are now looking down on Erap with pity.
Filipinos, being soft-hearted, would naturally pity him. This Estrada knows. He knows that he should look pitiful in order to gain the sympathy from his masses.
In fairness, Estrada is not hard to love. There’s something in his face, maybe his charisma, that will make anybody understand him. From the start, I don’t like Estrada, but when he became president, I became quite optimistic about him. That optimism reflected on my hitherto unpublished biography on him in my book about Philippine Presidents which was written in 1999.
So I can’t blame his supporters if they’ll burst in fury if they see his mug shots. Looking pitiful plus the sympathy of admirers equal larger support!
Honestly, he really looks pitiful.
What other people do not consider is that justice has to roll. If he is innocent, he will be freed, and regain his post in the pantheon of heroes. If not, then be it done to him according to the law. In any way it still has to be proven.
Despite the accusations against him that climaxed with the Second People Power, Estrada was never given a chance to formally answer the charges in the impeachment trial. This is his chance. Let us give Erap his day in court.
Some Erap supporters were camping in front of Camp Crame at EDSA. A Pro-Erap youth group was spotted by a cameraman making holes on tires of vehicles passing EDSA at that time. They want the people inside these cars and buses to join them.
Suddenly, the gates of Crame opened. Policemen, with shield and clubs came running. The Pro-Erap ran frantically to safety. Few were unlucky and tasted suffering in the hands of the police.
One pro-Erap shouted, “To EDSA Shrine!”
Everybody followed him!
26 April. 2001, Midnight
At 5:00 PM, there were trickles of people coming at EDSA Shrine from the Pro-Erap supporters dispersed from Greenhills and Camp Crame. I saw it from TV, from an ABS-CBN chopper hovering over EDSA Shrine.
Their shout, “Di kami aalis dito hangga’t hindi ibinabalik si Erap sa pagkapresidente!”
Media coverage on that little rally was scarce. In the news, I just see tidbits of what was on, but no coverage.
From their cell, the president and his son were resting. I saw Erap being interviewed three times: at CNN, at BBC and at GMA-7 [via phone]. Still echoing his earlier grievances and the condition of his cell.
But while scanning the remote to see the TV channels, I saw Net 25. At last! A channel covering the Pro-Erap rallies with delayed videos and voice over from commentators of an affiliate radio station, DZEC. It was 10:00 PM, I was so delighted!
26 April, 2001, 2:00 AM
I was so shocked to see that countless Pro-Erap were a EDSA Shrine this night. The tides had turned, just three months had passed after the people massed out in that place to oust Erap, people are there again, this time, the other Filipinos. This reflects how divided this country is.
Erap has divided this country.
“Poor People Power” they called their rally. Net 25 and DZEC Radio Agila becomes their voice. For obviously, their commentators were echoing the Pro-Erap’s “Pro God, Pro Constitution” dictum.
At the EDSA Shrine, it is EDSA Tres. And their shout, “Sigaw ng Mahihirap…IBALIK SI ERAP!”
27 April, 2001, night
After [name withheld] and I had a dinner at McDo earlier tonight, I went home and proceeded to Tito Wally’s house to watch TV with Tito Kok-Chin. My two uncles were Iglesia ni Cristo, who had always supported Erap ever since, as the members of that church practices block voting every elections.
They were tuned in to Net 25. I was unaware of the fact that it is actually owned by the Iglesia ni Cristo, as I was told tonight. The Net 25 footage tonight are showing EDSA Tres at its height! I won’t give numbers ‘coz the information I get varies depending on who is getting the ‘numbers. But EDSA is filled with people from the People Power Monument at White Plains to SM Megamall! It is a long stretch, maybe millions of people are there. Far more in numbers than in EDSA Dos.
This makes me sad. This is a visible testament of how divided the nation is. Why should it come to this? A class war between the poor and the elite. I think it’s unfair to strip off the credibility of their grievances by calling the poor at EDSA dirty and stinky, or by calling them ignorant. I believe, in my own opinion that they are fighting for a corrupt president, but we should not take for granted their grievances. They still believe that Erap is their savior, that he could do no wrong, that he is suffering injustice inside a cell in Camp Crame. These are legitimate grievances of the poor and we should not resolve this by mere name calling.
Some leaders of the opposition spoke this night at the EDSA rally. The speech I most hate was the one by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. The devout Catholic repeatedly said Gloria “Tarantada” in front of a church! Did her mind already left her? This is [why] the Cardinal and the Catholic Church think that the Pro-Eraps are desecrating the EDSA Shrine. Beside the fact that it was filled with garbage and stench left by rallyists, they also damaged the fiber glass roof of the Shrine. Where is their leader? Still the public do not know who the Pro-Eraps are following, JV Ejercito? Ronald Lumbao? Sino ba talaga, kuya?
Live coverage of the rally by commercial TV stations are rare! That’s why the Pro-Eraps are furious with the media. Beautiful lady reporters were pushed and shoved as they reported live from EDSA Shrine. Would the leaders pacify the crowd? But where is the leader?
But the division of the nation is more reflected by the division of my own family in the Erap issue. I despise some candidates for senator of the Pwersa ng Masa especially Enrile, Honasan, Santiago and Lacson, but [name withheld] loves them! I believe that Erap deserves jail before conviction, to him, this is injustice.
Erap not only divided his nation, but he also divided the families.
28 April. 2001, night
This morning, Erap was flown from Camp Crame to Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center for a routine check-up with son Jinggoy. According to the doctors, it would take days before it would be finished.
This afternoon, I was at the Calma-Dozier Farm at Dolores for the birthday party of one-year old Gilliane Calma. the daughter of my cousin Cecille, with my relatives and [name withheld] and her family. And [name withheld]’s mother couldn’t help but be shocked when I jokingly had a debate with die-hard Pro-Erap, [name withheld], who is a successful taxi driver in Manila. He even keeps a picture of Erap in his wallet. Although we have different views about Erap, we share the same opinions over the over show of force when Erap was arrested and the publication of mugshots of the president that made the people angry or pity Erap.
He said he went to EDSA last night!
After three months, EDSA is again filled with people. The same shouts, the same songs. Just the message changed. The song “Erap, Erap manloloko…” is now “Gloria, Gloria labandera…” I know that history repeats itself; I didn’t know it could be this soon! Iba talaga ang Pinoy!!!
30 April, 2001, night
It’s the 5th day of EDSA Tres and still no clear sign of how this would-end. Multitudes are still there, especially by nighttime after work. The government still maintains mega tolerance. No dispersal if gathering is peaceful. Even if they are singing “Gloria, Gloria Labandera ” to lampoon Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Earlier, Gloria announced that her government uncovered a plot to overthrow her by using the human wave of EDSA demonstrators but was aborted last night because of “split” decision of opposition leaders.
She said she’s just waiting for them to do it, “So that I could crush them already.”
Additional intelligence says that if the power grab succeeded, Gloria will be killed and so will be Erap. Then a military junta would take over. But no proof for that yet.
Also, today, emissaries from the president namely Justice Secretary Nani Perez, Senate President Nene Pimentel and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte met with INC leader Eraño G. Manalo. This is to convince Manalo that Gloria has a heart and programs for the poor. The result of this is the pullout of the INC members at EDSA.
After I came home earlier from [name withheld]’s house, I’m so excited to know what’s happening in EDSA. Although Net 25 is Pro-Erap, I like their coverage a lot.
I turned on the TV, pushed the button to Net 25…and the coverage was not there.
Now I realized how news blackout is so much irritating. I was left ignorant of what was happening. I was unaware that the Pro-Eraps are already shouting “Lusob na! Lusob na!”
“Kung sa akin lang, handa na ako. Ang tanong, handa ba kayo (lumusob)? Kailan pa kung hindi ngayon?”
“Papaligiran natin ang Malacañang ng libo-libong tao!”
1 May, 2001, 8:00 AM
At about six this morning, I was awakened by my mom. She delivered the news that made my eyes open wide! The Pro-Eraps are storming the very gates of Malacañang!
Hearing that, it made me stand from my bed. I transferred to the main room where my dad was also watching TV. And it’s true!
I just wondered what happened to the Anti-Erap forces who were at vigil since last night at Mendiola in support of the president. Gloria even visited them last night. Maybe they hid somewhere, for surely the hundreds of them will be overpowered by the thousand Pro-Eraps who came. I’m so happy that they didn’t have a clash!
My mom said that they destroyed and got through the barricades at Mendiola at about 3:30 AM shouting “Erap pa rin!”, “Gloria baba!” and “EDSA Tres!” Spotted was Jude Estrada, son of Erap, as among the rallyists who went to Mendiola.
Earlier this morning, as soon as the Pro-Eraps were making trouble at Mendiola, Erap and Jinggoy were flown from the Veteran’s Hospital to a specially made cell at Fort Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The bungalow type cell is secured with three fences and a guardhouse. It’s air-conditioned and is furnished with brand new appliances and furniture. Pretty good for a detainee!
The Pro-Eraps are already knocking at Gloria’s door! They were already having a vigil in front of Gate 7 when the policemen and the fire trucks came to disperse the angry mob.
I was already awake when the fire trucks inside the palace grounds bombarded the Pro-Eraps with tanks. Instead of dispersing, they were delighted to take a bath after days of not having one (Very condescending and elitist I should say-xc).
The policemen tried to disperse away the Pro-Eraps from Gate 7. This turned to a stand-off!
The Pro-Eraps were so defiant that it is the police who are sometimes running in cover from “high” Pro-Eraps who were throwing stones at them! This is fantastic!
It was like water tanks, teargases and truncheons could not kill the spirit of Pro Eraps. They have such high spirits…well, I just wonder, high on fire or high on drugs (Very condescending and elitist I should say-xc). One Pro-Erap already killed a policeman using home-made gun! They are not afraid, not even with snipers atop the Administration Building. Psychologists say that this is an excellent example of “crowd mentality”. Because you are many, you’ll not be afraid to do things together, even the most bad things!
At last, the President of the Philippines appeared on television, live. Looking tired and lacking sleep with no make-up, she seemed serious and strong. She said, “Sa likod ng mga kamatayan ay ang anino ng mga pulitiko na ginamit ang EDSA rally para sa kanilang kapakanan. Sinamantala ng mga pulitiko ang mga inosenteng tao sa EDSA para isulong ang kanilang kandidatura at ang kanilang hinaharap sa pulitika…. Sila ay nagpagalit sa mga tao sa pamamagitan ng kanilang mga talumpati at sila ang nagplano para ang gabing Lunes ay maging gabi ng paghihimagsik…. Ang mga nangyaring paninira, pagnanakaw, pananakit at mga kamatayan ay kagagawan ng mga pulitikong ito. Sila ang dapat sisihin. Mananagot sila sa bayan!”
1 May, 2001, noon
As soon as they heard that the Erap supporters were out of EDSA, some of the clergy, priests, nuns and other concerned citizens went to the EDSA Shrine with their brooms and mops and started to clean EDSA Shrine from the mountain of garbage that piled up with the five-day EDSA rally. Even senatoriable Solita “Winnie” Monsod was there. The parish priest of EDSA Shrine, Monsignor Soc Villegas was so delighted. But he reported that some stations of the cross were destroyed or looted, and that the back of EDSA Shrine was turned into a public restroom!
The EDSA 2 forces were supposed to have a May Day rally today at Mendiola to match the EDSA 3 rally. But because of the turn-around or events this morning, they have reclaimed EDSA and they’re scheduled to meet there this afternoon.
Back to Mendiola. At 10:30 AM, hundreds of riot policemen began to disperse the Pro-Erap mob near Gate 7 using truncheons. They retreated toward Concepcion Aguila St. Rallyists turned very violent. While retreating, they threw stones to the police. Telecasted live on national TV and even on CNN!
At 10:45 AM, The Pro-Eraps, while retreating turned their anger to a police station. They tried to get in and ransacked it. They also destroyed the crew van of GMA-7 and they burned a police car!
Reporter Jiggy Manicad and Ivan Mayrina of GMA-7 were reporting on the fourth floor of a university when the retreating Pro-Eraps were already on Mendiola Bridge. Gunshots for warning could be heard all around. The Pro-Eraps became so aggressive, aggressiveness never seen before in contemporary history by Filipinos. When they saw the GMA crew on the fourth floor, they started throwing stones on the media men.
“Shit” heard the whole Philippines. It was Jiggy, hit by a stone! Chino Roces’s monument became a mute witness of all this trouble!
As they reached Legarda intersection, the Pro-Eraps burned a construction machine. They also set afire vans of ABS-CBN and, ABC 5! A reporter exclaimed, “What demons came into this mob?” They were destroying everything on their way!
The military’s deadline to disperse the Pro-Erap mob in Mendiola was noon. They cleared the street at 11:30!
Minutes after clearing Mendiola, Presidential Spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao announced that the president is placing the entire National Capital Region under STATE OF REBELLION!
1 May, 2001, 1:00 PM
Upon placing Metro Manila under State of Rebellion, the police and the military started arresting some of the looters and troublemakers in the Pro-Erap side were arrested. Hundreds of them. Although under custody, the authorities should not inflict physical harm on the arrested mob, soldiers and policemen hit those who participated in the riots with their fists and clubs. This became so hot and emotional!
Again the question: Where are the leaders? Where is Juan Ponce-Enrile? Where is Miriam? Where is Ronald Lumbao? It was they who convinced the crowd at EDSA to attack Mendiola. Did these cowards join the masses in the attack? My God! These politicians turned the masses into pawns to fulfill their personal agenda. Where were they when their supporters became wounded and in pain? This morning, Miriam didn’t know anything as she swam in the cool waters of Celebrity Sports Plaza.
Looking at those arrested pleading for freedom; I feel not hatred but pity. The masses were again used by hungry-for-power politicians.
1 May, 2001, 2:30 PM
Before leaving home with my mom to accompany [name withheld] and her family to a wake in San Miguel. I watched on TV the rampage brought by Pro-Erap after retreating from Mendiola. In Avenida, traffic lights broken, stores looted. I also heard that they are making movements at the Nagtahan area.
The order of Pres. Arroyo: Even if 5 Pro-Eraps assembled together, it’s rebellion, and they could be apprehended.
1 May, 2001, night
It was 3:00 PM, I was in San Miguel. I peeped in somebody else’s window and saw on TV that Enrile was being arrested by the police headed by Col. Reynaldo Berroya, the mortal enemy of Panfilo Lacson, who, like Miriam, Enrile and others, is considered as coup plotters.
Pictures from Nagtahan were very disturbing, especially that of a young man burning a Red Cross truck! Again, that man too was victim of these politicians.
The sun sets, on the first day of the State of Rebellion. It’s peaceful. I just hope that the worst is over.
Four days later, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited Former Pres. Joseph Ejercito Estrada and his son Jinggoy in their cell in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. His arrested supporters were later released.
Estrada is a blessed man. He never became poor in any time in his lifetime, but the masses are ready to die for him. Estrada as an actor is very popular, especially those roles defending the poor. He have charisma. But somebody took advantage of the sensitivity and emotions of the masses. Those abusive mean politicians. We should learn already, especially that the polls are near.
For me, it’s not important whether EDSA 2 is more righteous than EDSA 3 or EDSA 3 is the real voice of the masses or vice versa. Let’s leave that to those politicians and people who call themselves “civil society”. We are a divided country. The Filipinos of EDSA 2 against the Filipinos of EDSA 3. But before we could unite the country again, we should begin the healing process among ourselves. Yes, we should start with ourselves.
The Third People Power only proves that we are indeed a free and a democratic country. But even after a dozen of EDSA, if the poor still could hardly eat…Democracy is worthless!
May the Lord guide this nation, whatever we conceive Him to be. Only He could heal our broken lives.