Gringo’s 1989 coup


Second of three parts

As I detailed it in my book, Ideas, Principles and Lost Opportunities, the succeeding developments unfolded. The concept of the 1989 coup d’etat plan was to organize a government with a National Governing Council (NGC) composed of seven persons—three from the military and four civilians. The military was represented by Abenina as chairman and Zumel and Honasan as members. The three chose their civilian counterparts, without any power of veto from anyone of them for their respective choice.

Zumel chose the leading KBL personality in the group, businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco of Tarlac province. Honasan chose Enrile, his surrogate father. Abenina chose me, his lawyer, as he could not trust any other politician. On my insistence, Laurel was to be President in order to give constitutional legitimacy to the new regime, since he was the elected and installed Vice-President.

Doy Laurel was scheduled to leave for London to have a reunion with his family at the time when his son, Cocoy Laurel, was playing a major role in the musical Miss Saigon that was showing at the Drury Lane Theatre. To be sure that no coup would take place while he would be in London, Doy asked me to see General Abenina for the required information.

Consistent with Doy’s request, I went to see Brig. Gen. Edgardo Abenina, the chairman of the RAM and the elected Chairman of the National Governing Counsel (NGC) by the two other military officers who composed the seven-man Council.

“Pare, is the project really scheduled for implementation in December 7?” I asked Abenina who is a friend and was my client then.

“Of course, Pare, it is set not earlier than December 7. Why?” he asked.

“Doy and I are leaving for London on November 24. He wants me to ask you whether there will be no coup during our absence,” I replied.

“Well, you know that. It is just as well you’re going to London because from there you fly to Washigton, D. C. to meet with General Colin Powell, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the United States Armed Forces and possibly Vice-President Dan Quayle,” he answered sounding mysterious.

“What for?” I asked.

“To sign our commitment to extend the US-PI Bases for another ten years,” Abenina answered.

“Don’t you think this is inimical to the national interest?” I asked him wondering whether we were not starting on the wrong foot, by signing such commitment.

“Pare, one problem at a time. Time will tell whether we are right,” Abenina replied, almost certain there was enough reason why we needed US neutrality to oust the Cory government.

One fine morning when Doy Laurel and I were already in London, I was awakened by persistent knocks at the door of the room where former Congressman Macario “Cario” Laurel and I were booked. Irritated, since it was still very early morning, I shouted, “What is it?”

“Bon, DHL (for Doy Hidalgo Laurel) wants to talk with you and Cario because there’s a coup in the Philippines,” Baby Herrera, the secretary of Doy replied.

“Who informed him there’s a coup?” I asked.

“De Villa (the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) is in BBC saying there’s a coup,” she replied.

Cario and I rushed to the coffee shop where Doy, General Cesar Tapia (Doy’s senior military aide) and Baby were waiting.

“Bon, you told me there would be no coup during our absence, what’s all this? What shall we do now?” Doy asked me, disturbed, with a look of pressing concern.

“This could not be the coup of our friends. This must be a move of a group whom we don’t know. We have to fly back immediately to the Philippines. For all we know, you may already be President,” I replied, without batting an eyelash.

The same day we left London for Hong Kong. As Vice-President of the Philippines, Doy was met at the Kai Tak airport in Hongkong by the consul general of the Philippines. From the airport, we immediately proceeded to the Peninsula Hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, I immediately turned on the TV only to find out the coup was staged by our friends. I had to call General Abenina, to determine why the coup was advanced to an earlier date.

“Pare, what happened? Are we on top of the situation?” I asked Abenina.

“All this is Greg’s idea. I almost could not get out of Camp Crame were it not for Angie who took me out. These guys violated the agreement. They are supposed to give us seventy-two hours’ notice before the move but they gave us hardly twenty-four hours’ notice. About being on top of the situation, we are still in control of MIA (Manila International Airport), the airports in Mactan and Puerto Princesa,” Abenina revealed the events in Manila on ground level. Greg is Colonel Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, now member of the Senate. Angie is the wife of General Abenina.

“Pare, shall I announce the formation of a revolutionary government?” I asked Abenina.

“The decision is yours, Pare. But I’m telling you the situation is not very clear yet. I suggest you better fly home immediately and land in one of the airports that I mentioned,” he answered.

To be concluded in Part 3 “Revolutionary government?” to come out on Saturday, January 30.


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  1. Everybody should be worried if Binay wins the presidential elections. There will be coups and civil disobedience that will result for Binay to stay as president for at most six months. There will be civil war.

  2. So meaning, you are one of the author of unconstitutional means to remove the President. As a lawyer you take the oath to follow the constitution and laws of the land. What do you think of your action? you should be in jailed Mr. Adasa, you are always discussing in your column about legality, laws, constitution etc. and you yourself is a law non-abiding citizen and violator of constitution and you have the guts to tell us your sins?

    • clandestine, the coup is constitutional under sections 1 and 3 of Article II of the Constitution. Adaza knows his onions as he has not only been governor, immigration commissioner and member of Parliament and opposition head in the Committee of revision of laws and constitutional amendments. He has also been teaching Political law and Constitutional law for quite sometime. So shut up, you do not know what you are talking about.

  3. You right I stand corrected ther an election wher Gerry roxas lost to Fernando Lopez but did not notice or not in pres palace museum FYI

  4. Bono,
    Can you write about the politicians and politics of Camiguin next time. It should be an interesting read. Thanks.

  5. Gregorio Honasan has led the most number of failed coup attempts and should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. He has found his place in the Senate with the likes of Lito Lapid and Ramon Revilla – people with form but no substance.

  6. The issue here is more on control of the government. Because some disgruntle personalities do not like what is going on, they have to create changes. This is greed for power and wealth maybe a repeat of Marshall Law. This time an honest and fair
    election is one solution. People should vote for the right candidates.