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The new government starts jelling

01:34 PM February 24, 2011

AFTER adjusting to the rapid developments of the weekend the Opposition started buckling down to meetingt the crisis of an emergency government, in the wake of the imminent collapse of the 20-year Marcos regime.

Cory Aquino had received the news the hold-out of Minister Enrile and Gen Ramos in Camp Aguinaldo last Saturday early evening in Cebu City after her boycott rally at Fuente Osmena. Within two hours she was talking to Minister Enrile by long distance in Camp Aguinaldo, assuring him of her prayers and support.

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That evening her leaders, such as MPs Nene Pimentel, Ramon Mitra, Bono Adaza and Tony Cuenco and former Sen. John Osmena, decided spirit Cory Aquino away to the protection of the Carmelite Convent in Cebu City, accompanied by her daughter Kris and Nancy Cuenco, Tony’s wife.

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The U.S. Consul-General in Cebu, Blaine Porter had earlier called on Cory at the Quisumbing residence, to assure her of protection if necessary. Porter told Cory that a U.S. submarine was on its way to Cebu, and the following early morning, he was at the Convent to inform Cory that the sub had arrived and was ready to take her to Manila if she wanted it. But Cory politely turned down the offer, saying that her security was quite adequate. By noon she bad quietly flown out of Cebu in a private plane, and her Batasan leaders buckled down to working out the details of an alternative government.

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The Batasan members were wakened up by Minority Floorleader Pepito Laurel’s office at 3 a.m. last Monday, and directed to proceed to UNIDO president Doy Laurel’s residence for a meeting at 6:30 a.m. The topic of conversation was setting up a provisional government. At the meeting a small group of MPs composed of MPs Louie Villafuerte, Jimmy Ferrer, Bobbit Sanchez and Bono Adaza, was designated to liaison with Minister Enrile on this subject, and proceeded to Crame.

At almost the same time, however, Enrile had asked LABAN vice-president Tito Guingona to get in touch with Cory Aquino and Doy Laurel about the same plan. Enrile ordered that a skeletal cabinet be fashioned. He stressed that it should not be a military junta, but purely civilian government and that the forces under him and Ramos would constitute its military arm.

Tito raced to look for Cory, but couldn’t locate her right away. Dropping by MP Cecilia Munoz Palma’s place, he met instead with the elder statesmen of LABAN, Senators Lorenzo Tanada, Jose Diokno and Jovito Salonga, and Palma herself, who all backed up the idea of immediately forming a civilian government with Cory at the helm. Cory contacted Tito at Palma’s place.

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By 2 p.m. all the Batasan members were back in Doy Laurel’s residence to continue the plans for putting up a new government. Cory Aquino joined the group as did Tito Guingona, and Justice Palma.

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The MPs recommended that the new government to be set up must not be provisional in nature, but constitutional, de jure and permanent. The MPs tackled the question of documentation of the event, such the procedure of the proclamation, the drafting of the text, the framework to be followed. A unanimous decision was also made to have proclamation ceremony on Monday evening (which was postponed to Tuesday morning, Feb. 25).

Lastly, they tackled the list of Cabinet positions as well as vital public utilities to be filled up. Laurel presented Cory with his listing of 15 Cabinet positions, together with suggested names to fill them; one eyewitness said it made Cory’s eyes pop out.

After 3 p.m., the Batasan group moved out to Speaker Pepito Laurel’s residence, adjoining Doy’s on Shaw Blvd in Mandaluyong. Cory, meanwhile, left to pay a visit to the huge crowd barricading EDSA in front of Camps Crame and Aguinaldo.

By meeting’s end, the Batasan members had all agreed that the posts of Prime Minister, Finance, Defense and Foreign Affairs should be the first posts to be filled up.

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That evening, a much smaller group than the Batasan’s met, this time at the residence of Cory’s relative. Present, aside front the President- elect and vice-presidential-elect themselves, were LABAN president Jovy Salonga, Aquino spokesmen Rene Saguisag and Teddy Locsin Jr., and adviser Jaime Ongpin. The group tackled specific nominations to the Cabinet, and apparently, deliberations dragged on a bit, necessitating the postponement of the proclamation last Monday night.

Before the group disbanded at around 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m., the appointments of Doy Laurel as Prime Minister, Juan Ponce Enrile as Defense Minister and Fidel Ramos as Chief of Staff, had been made. Nominations for the other posts were considered, but no announcements were made, presumably because they could not be firmed up in the time given. Among the names mentioned are Aquilino Pimentel for the Local Governments and Ramon Mitra for Agriculture.

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