For Senator Bongbong Marcos to say that his father was a hero and not a thief and that his last heroic act was his restraint in not ordering the massacre of the civilians massed at EDSA 1, in February 1986 is but normal of a son and a politician. In his eyes his father is an all-time hero; and as a politician he has to engage in a conscientious image building built on lies for his future political exercise.
The claim however, that his father was not a thief was belied by various Swiss dollar accounts that the Marcoses would like to put closure with by offering to surrender some deposits in favor of the government during the reign of President Fidel Ramos. The compromise was pursued during Joseph Estrada’s presidency and is being pursued now under the administration of President Simeon Benigno Aquino.
Some other accounts were sequestered by the Court and money therein ordered paid to the thousands of human rights victims during Marcos reign of terror. Just like what CJ Corona claims, the Marcoses maintain that these money were “product of their own toils”, but unlike Corona, the Marcoses would want to give up some of their riches in favor of the government to sue for peace.
You do not need historians to make a judgment call that the Marcoses had pillaged the economy and made use of their power to enrich themselves while the people whom they claimed they represent wallow in abject poverty. This paradox is lost on the Marcoses.
Now as to the claim that the late strongman did not order the “massacre” of the demonstrators in EDSA in February 1986, let us summon historian Alfred W. McCoy to shed light on this political spin.
“The president finally declared war on the rebels in an early morning broadcast. Again accusing Enrile and Ramos of organizing a coup, Marcos pronounced them “guilty of rebellion and inciting to rebellion,” adding that he was “duty-bound to execute the law and the Constitution.”
At first light a full brigade of Marcos’s Marines, with riot troops and tear gas clearing a path through the “still sleepy people,” broke into the rear of Camp Aguinaldo riding in a column of six armored vehicles and twenty-eight trucks. By 8:30 A.M., the Marines had positioned their howitzers and mortars to shell and slaughter. The rebel forces, just across, the highway inside Camp Crame, prepared to die. They said prayers and sang their alma mater’s song. “PMA, Oh, Hail to Thee,” while, as one RAM leader recalled, “our eyes flowed with tears, our voices broke, and our lips quivered. At 9:00 A.M., General Josephus Ramas gave the “kill order” to the commander of the Fourth Marine brigade, Colonel Braulio Balbas (PMA ’60). The colonel hesitated. Looking down from the high ground of Camp Aguinaldo across EDSA’s eight lanes, the Marines had massive firepower “bore sighted” on the rebels inside Camp Crame only two hundred meters away – three 105-mm howitzers, six 90-mm recoilless rifles, eight 81-mm mortars, twenty 60-mm mortars, six heavy rocket launchers, sixty .50 caliber machine guns, and nearly a thousand M-16 rifles. Colonel Balbas, a veteran combat officer, was known among brother officers as “the cool-headed type.” If he gave the order, he knew that his Marines, battle hardened by years of jungle warfare, would fire without hesitation. The howitzers would level the camps’ buildings and the mortars would cover its grounds with a hail of shrapnel. In such a barrage, thousands of demonstrators, packed shoulder to shoulder on the pavement between the camps, would be slaughtered. Uncertain that Marcos would ultimately back him for the killing of these innocent civilians, Balbas hesitated, telling General Josephus Ramas, “We are still positioning the cannons.” The general barked, “The president is on the other line waiting for compliance!”
After Balbas put down the field phone, Colonel Jerry Albano (PMA ’71) approached the Marine position at the head of an armed headquarters company, saluting and calling out, “How are you, sir?” Suspicious, the Marine said, “Prankahan tayo” (Let’s be frank). You lay your cards, I lay my cards. What side are you on?” Colonel Albano replied, “Sir, you know pretty well that I belong to Class ’71 and Class 71 belongs to the reformist movement. So, I am on the side of Crame.” Knowing that these combat Marines could slaughter his lightly armed guard unit, Albano suggested, “Okay, coexistence na lang tayo”. (Okay, let’s just coexist.” The Marine Commandant nodded in agreement and Albano withdrew.
Thirty minutes later, the Marine Commandant, General Tadiar, entered the palace and met General Ver, who confirmed the order to fire. Tadiar picked up a phone and told Colonel Balbas, “I think the order of Ramas is cleared. So you may fire.” The colonel replied, “Sir, if I may, the people have been let inside Crame already, and we will be hurting a lot of civilians.” Tadiar paused, “Then hold your fire and use your discretion.” Ten minutes later, General Ramas called and, for the fourth time, gave Balbas a direct order to fire. The colonel again stalled saying, “We were looking for maps and positioning canons and mortars.
Only minutes later, panic erupted in the palace. Rockets crashed into the grounds, exploding near Imelda’s bedroom. Flying low over Manila Bay, one of the rebel helicopters had jumped over the post office and skimmed along the Pasig River to fire a barrage of six rockets. The elite antiaircraft artillery units ringing the place under Major Wyrlo Ver had failed to fire a single round. The attack, in the words of Marcos’s aide, ‘broke the men’s will to fight.’
Colonel Balbas got a frantic call within minutes from Colonel Irwin Ver, chief of staff for the palace guards, ordering a “full attack.” Balbas replied that he was still positioning the cannons and mortars. By now he had decided that ‘only an insane commander’ would kill hapless civilians. He was not going to slaughter his ‘superior officers, classmates and other friends inside Camp Crame. The colonel was certain that his PMA classmates, men like Oscar Florendo and Pedro Sistosa, were in there with Ramos. An hour later, sensing, as Balbas later said, that “I will turn over the troops to Camp Crame if I were pushed further,” General Tadiar ordered him to disengage and return to base. Marcos had lost his marines.” (Closer Than Brothers, Alfred W. McCoy, p. 250-52).