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BARRICADED IN CAMP AGUINALDO

Enrile, Ramos lead ‘revolt’ against FM

11:16 AM February 24, 2011

• PEOPLE’S WILL MUST PREVAIL

• REFORM GROUPS ALSO EXPECT ARREST

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• 2 BATTALIONS READY TO FIGHT FOR ENRILE

• 1972 AMBUSH FAKE — ENRILE

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• WILL SUPPORT CORY AQUINO

by BING FORMENTO & LOUIE LOGARTA

DEFENSE MINISTER Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos led late yesterday a “revolt” of reformist officers against President Marcos who they said they no longer recognize as the commander-in-chief.

Surrounded by an estimated two battalions of fully-armed troops loyal to them, the two barricaded themselves in the four-story defense ministry building in Camp Aguinaldo and called on all “professionally-minded elements of the Armed Forces…whose loyalty is to the Constitution and to the Filipino people” to join them.

Declaring that “the mandate of the people is not with the present regime,” Enrile called on President Marcos to “step down while there is still time.”

“Even if he kills all of us here, I think the Filipino people will react violently. They cannot kill all the Filipino people that will be in the streets if any of us will be harmed,” he said.

Enrile told local and foreign newsmen he hoped the situation will turn out all right. “If not then we will have to make a stand here and if we have to go down, all of us will have to go down.”

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Enrile said Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the 250,000-man AFP, is ringed by troops loyal to them. He said there are “friendly forces” in the Philippine Navy, the Air Force, the Army and the Marines.

Enrile also said he has notified United States Ambassador Stephen Bosworth and Japanese Ambassador Kiyoshi Sumiya “and I understand they will inform their respective governments.”

Enrile and Ramos said they are supporting Ms. Corazon Aquino and said they would die fighting.

“We are committed to support Corazon Aquino,” Enrile said. “I think in my heart she is the President of the Philippines.”

The siege drama began earlier in the afternoon when Minister Enrile, accompanied by six or seven of his security men, hurriedly left his Dasmarinas Village home telling his wife Cristina he expected to be arrested “at anytime.”

He emerged later in his Camp Aguinaldo office which was filling up with armed troops on all four floors and where local and foreign newsmen, summoned by earlier reports of his “impending arrest,” had gathered. Enrile had a combat fatigue tunic over civilian clothes.

Ramos arrived at 6:10 p.m. alone and in a grey bush jacket and, after a huddle between the two they emerged into the building’s social hall to talk to reporters.

Enrile began by saying he had to take his sudden move because he was told by his men of reports he and members of the AFP reform movement would be arrested.

He recalled that as far back as 1982 he had received “persistent” reports of as plot to “eliminate” them with some “newly formed elements from Mindanao” having taken on the job.

“So we decided to organize ourselves and this is actually the Reform AFP Movement (RAM),” Enrile said. Among the leaders of the reform group is Lt. Col. Gregorio Honasan, the defense minister’s chief security officer.

Ramos declared, “I am with Minister Enrile. The reason for my being here is because the Armed Forces of the Philippines has ceased to be the Armed Forces of the Philippines . . . supposed to be the defender of public safety and enforcer of the law,” Ramos explained. “What has developed is an elite in the AFP that no longer represents the rank and file and the officer corps of the Armed Forces.”

Enrile said, “I cannot in conscience recognize the President as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.

“Our loyalty is to the Constitution and to the Filipino people, to our country, and I’m calling on all decent elements in the Cabinet, decent elements in the government, decent Filipinos, and the decent soldiers and officers of the AFP who are trained to respect the Constitution and to protect the welfare of this nation and its people, to wake up and support this (reform) movement,” he added.

The defense minister also appealed to his colleagues in the Cabinet to “heal the wounds of the people, heed the will of the people expressed in the last elections.”

“In my region I know we cheated in the election to the extent of 350,000 votes,” he said.

Ramos said the President “is no longer the able and capable commander-in-chief . . . to whom we pledged our loyalty, to whom we dedicated our service . . . because he has put his personal interest and his family interest above the interest of the people.”

He then announced:

“As Chief of Constabulary and the Integrated National Police as well as Vice Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces I would like to direct the troops under my command as well as all other elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that are professionally minded, that are dedicated to the military service in the sense of military service being the protector of the people, the defender of public safety and the enforcers of the law in our country, to be with me as well as with the Minister of National Defense in our effort to bring about a more normal situation where our people once more can live freely and pursue the aspirations they have it life.”

Later in the evening former Chief of Staff Romeo Espino and Brig. Gen. Ramon Farolan arrived to talk with Enrile and Ramos, but details of their conversation were not disclosed.

Later in the evening Ramos left Enrile with Espino and Farolan and went back to his own headquarters at Camp Crame — which was also heavily guarded — just across E. de los Santos Avenue from Camp Aguinaldo.

Before Ramos joined Enrile, a military helicopter landed near the ministry building and troop unloaded sack-loads of automatic rifles and brought them to an annex building.

A second helicopter, white civilian one often used by Ms. Enrile, also landed loaded with civilians carrying arms. Several troops set up concrete slabs on the lawns enclosed by the wings of the building.

Also in the press conference, Enrile said he was still minister of defense. He said, however, that he would be submitting his resignation tomorrow.

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TAGS: Corazon Aquino, EDSA, Edsa People Power Revolution, Ferdinand Marcos, Fidel Ramos, INQStory Edsa, Juan Ponce Enrile, martial law
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