How the US saved Cory’s neck in 1989

33
RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

As narrated by the strategist, Colin Powell
AS I explained on Monday, President Duterte’s break from the United States will ultimately lead to the dismantling of the Yellow Narrative, which would expose President Corazon Aquino—and her son Benigno 3rd as well—as creations of the superpower.

Advertisements

I had quoted the account of Republican Sen. Paul Laxalt, President Reagan’s personal envoy, on how US strategists forced President Marcos to call for a “snap elections” in February 1986 which led to the phenomenon of “People Power” coming to the succor of military rebels, the four-day stand-off which gave the US the excuse to shanghai the dictator to Hawaii.

But the US didn’t just put Aquino into power in 1986. It also prevented military rebels from forcing her out of office during their coup attempt in November 1989. This coup attempt was launched by the alliance of the anti-Marcos RAM rebels led by then Col. Gregorio Honasan and Marcos’ loyal generals, led by Generals Eduardo Abenina and then retired General Jose Ma. Zumel.

Perhaps these officers would have been worse than Cory or Marcos. But how can we be proud of our nation if the US had determined the course of our recent history, and we refuse to see this, and instead believe in the Yellow Myth?

What follows is the account of how the US saved Cory’s neck in the November 1989 coup, as told by US Gen. Colin Powell, chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff during President George H.W. Bush’s administration, in his book, My American Journey (I put fascinating or important details in bold type):

Powell’s account
“In late November 1989, we had to respond to a coup against President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines.

“Cheney and I had just returned from a conference in Brussels. Cheney, exhausted and ill with the flu, went home and stayed there. I went to work the next day, returned home, and gratefully hit the sack soon after dinner. An hour later, the phone rang, and I was informed by Tom Kelly that a coup was underway in the Philippines headed by a General Edgardo Abenina. I went immediately to the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon, arriving just after 11:00 p.m.

FIGHTER JET THAT DETERMINED OUR RECENT HISTORY. One of four US F-4 Phantom jets streaking over Manila in November 1989. Inset: F-4 details.

FIGHTER JET THAT DETERMINED OUR RECENT HISTORY. One of four US F-4 Phantom jets streaking over Manila in November 1989. Inset: F-4 details.

“I entered a room designed specifically for dealing with such situations. It was small, low-ceilinged; my steps were muffled by gray carpeting. The room was cold, kept that way to aid the performance of the supersensitive electronic gear. We were using a new teleconferencing system that allowed people from various agencies to confer without leaving their buildings.

“This was the first time the system would be used in an actual crisis. I sat at a table facing five television monitors. On one I could see the White House Situation Room, with Vice President Quayle at the center of the table… The face of (deputy secretary of state) Larry Eagleburger filled a second screen. On a third was Bill Webster, the CIA director, and on a fourth, Harry Rowen, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, who was upstairs in the Pentagon.

“I could see myself on the fifth screen…. Also, by pure chance, the Commander in Chief for all our forces in the Pacific, Admiral Huntington “Hunt” Hardisty, was there too, having come from Honolulu to the Pentagon for budget talks.

Aquino cries for help
“President Corazon Aquino, I was informed, had reported that the presidential palace in Manila was being bombed and strafed by rebel planes. She had requested US military intervention to stop the attacks.

“Eagleburger argued hard in favor of answering Aquino’s appeal. ‘We sponsored this democratic government,’ he said, ‘and we have to respond.’ Sporadic reports kept arriving; there was gunfire here and there, and a possible need to rescue Aquino from the palace. But we were hearing more confusion than hard information. Our ambassador in Manila, Nicholas Platt, reconfirmed an official request that we bomb an airfield under rebel control. Mostly old T-28s, World War II prop-driven trainers, based at this field, were the planes attacking the capital. Again, State was eager to respond.

“The Vice President said he needed to contact President Bush soon with a recommendation. I had taken a media beating for holding back on the Giroldi coup in Panama in October. If I wanted to overcome any impression of indecisiveness, I should have plunged ahead now. But I was not about to be stampeded.

“I started asking questions. We could bomb the airfield, but did we know who we would be bombing? Who would we hit, rebels or loyalists? The State Department probably pictured a neat, surgical strike. Instead, I envisioned anxious young pilots flying their first combat missions, not precision-tooled automatons. My concern was that if we started shooting up planes on the airfield, we were inevitably going to kill people, and I warned the other teleconferees, ‘I can guarantee you that the Filipinos are going to blast us at their funerals, no matter which side we hurt.’ We were still, in some quarters, viewed and resented as former colonial masters.

“Before we did anything rash, we needed more on-site information. I wanted to talk to Fidel Ramos, the Philippine defense minister, to get an eyeball account. It just happened that the American military attaché ordinarily posted to our embassy in Manila was also in the Pentagon this night, upstairs with Harry Rowen, (and he was asked to get in touch with Ramos.)

Powell’s Phantom idea
“In the meantime, I described to Quayle and the others a plan that Hardisty and I had devised: have our F-4 Phantom jets stationed at Clark Air Force Base buzz any T-28S daring to come onto the runway at the rebel-held airbase. In short, scare the hell out of them.

“If any of these planes started to take off, fire in front of them. And if any took off, shoot them down. I concocted a phrase to include in the order to convey the desired sense of menace. Our aircraft were to demonstrate ‘extreme hostile intent.’ I called Cheney, who agreed. He contacted Air Force One and called me back within ten minutes to tell me we had the President’s approval.

“In short, we had a clear line of authority for graduated military action, Commander in Chief to Secretary of Defense through me to the appropriate military units. ‘Go,’ Cheney said.

“I turned to Admiral Hardisty and gave him the go order… The F-4S were launched. They buzzed the airfield repeatedly, and no Filipino pilot took off to see what would happen next. …Within hours, the coup collapsed without our getting further involved and without the F-4S shooting up anybody or anything…

“A few days later, General Abenina, the coup leader, said, ‘We were about to take over the government. Then the US warplanes appeared. We simply cannot hope to win against the stronger power of the United States Air Force.’ The night the coup ended, I left the Pentagon feeling good.”

E-mail: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Fb: Rigoberto Tiglao and Bobi Tiglao
Archives: rigobertotiglao.com

Share.
loading...
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

33 Comments

  1. Thank you Mr. Tiglao for all those great articles you have given us (readers of Manila Times). May I suggest, with due respect, that you write a book which can be use as historical reference by the Filipino youths. If I may suggest please start the book from the time the American forces took over from the Spaniards and continue up to the present.

  2. Even Gen. Collin Powell has an incorrect data on the T-28 Trojan (which Filipinos call Tora Tora). It is NOT a World War II aircraft since it first flew in 1949, 4 years after the war ended. And it was produced starting 1950!

  3. Bobbi Tiglao thank you for transmitting Colin Powel’s narrative of the Gringo adventure which just confirm the involvement of the US into PH domestic affairs. Can we say now that President Duterte is the first Pilipino president untainted by American hands?

    • Yes, Digong is untainted by US govt hand but he is tainted with Chinese hand…the MANCHURIAN candidate…China is winning its own brand of Hybrid warfare against the US…

  4. Filipinos will not change. We need a bloody revolution for the people to understand what freedom really is. Everything is taking for granted. The bloody war against drugs and corruptions is a start.

  5. This has been the talks from the unYellow group since that fateful day! We have to thank Collin Powell for confirming and as usual, Rigoberto Tiglao’s unbiased reporting! I hope our historians will revisit and have this included in our history books for future generation! KUDOS and thanks for this article!

    • Same USA that prevented the people from exacting vengeance on the Marcos family on the last days of martial law, did rightly saved Cory’s government.

      Tiglao is shamelessly on a paid quest to rehabilitate the Marcoses whose ultimate goal is BBM presidency. Trying to fool the Filipino anew, but all will be forever on the wrong side of history and justice.

  6. This is exactly why I watch the TV series “Madam Secretary” so avidly. It shows how the US manipulates almost all other countries in more ways than one.

  7. well, up to now i think US of A is still stretching its patience with digong, but hey, for how long? Just hope when they do their move it won’t be a bloody one and won’t affect RP’s economy.

    • So what do you think America will do to oust a duly elected president of a hundred million populated nation. Launch an all out attack? create a local power hungry cabal to lead an ouster movement? No way it will happen to a popular leader supported by 90% of its citizens. You were not able to do it to Castro who is stone throw away from your coast, to Chavez who was not that far from your seashore, how can you do it to the Philippines thousands miles away from you without raising a serious international repercussion.

    • it will not be a bloodless coup considering how divided the filipinos at this moment…i pictured to be like a syria’s civil war…….many actors will
      be involved

  8. The “heroic” efforts of the people would have been in vain if not for the interference of the U.S. The meddling Americans and their servants in the Philippines were working hand-in-hand to achieve their common interest – the complete domination of Philippine society. That is the objective view versus yours coming from the Yellow side of the fence.

    • I’m not an American but you don’t seem to be able to sort your own problems out, don’t blame it on foreigners. Sort out your own stuff first!

    • ‘General Abenina, the coup leader, said, ‘We were about to take over the government. Then the US warplanes appeared.’
      – Sorting out our problems is exactly what we try to do. We will only succeed if the US will stop meddling and acting like it had a mandate to conduct our internal affairs.

  9. Here is a subject that has never been discussed anywhere: That 1989 coup was led by Gringo’s RAM and Marcos era PMA Superintendent Gen. Zumel’s Young Officers’ Union (YOU). After the coup RAM officers were kicked out and only the YOU stayed on as the only organized “adventurist” officers group. In an official report to Cory after the coup, it was stated that the PMA graduates of 1981 up to 1989 made up the bulk of YOU. After a major flap with an agent provocateur posing as YOU spokesman to help destabilize Erap resulted in that poor chap’s murder, the YOU announced its disbandment. Do you believe that they really disbanded or did they just go underground to avoid more controversies? Today all the service commands are led by PMA officers that belong to the YOU generation. During GMA’s time when the Garci tapes caused a split in the pro-EDSA ranks with the Cory-led HYATT 10 breakaway, the yellows were loudly egging the military to oust GMA. The official military spokesman at that time, a certain Col. Kuison, I forgot the first name, issued a statement from Camp Aguinaldo containing these sentiments that I quote verbatim: “The military was only used during EDSA 1 and EDSA 2, it will not allow itself to be used again.” Did he mean to be used by the yellows again? I don’t know but thats a very good guess, isn’t it? My point is I think the yellows are dreaming if they think they can do a repeat of Cory vs Marcos or GMA vs Erap with that clerico-fascist puppet Mrs. Robredo. More likely, there will be a repeat of Martial Law, better still a revolutionary government under Duterte if like Marcos, he is pushed into a corner by his enemies and he is given no choice but to push back. Push harder, yellow hypocrites, push harder, please.

    • I agree..what do we do then to a Cory clone this early ? That will prevent if ever a Cory type of governance in the future…Am already a senior and I don’t want to see before I leave this world our country sliding back to a negative growth just because we failed again in choosing the proper leaders that will give respect to us as pinoys globally..

  10. That was not his version of history. That is the true history of the Philippines. Until such time that all of us Filipinos embrace the true history on what happened then, the sickening yellow narrative will continue and Philippines will continue to be governed by the elite for the elite. From where you are now, you must be one of the elites and fearing to lose your self-righteousness and entitlement to ride roughshod over most of the Filipinos

  11. No one is giving full credit to the US for replacing Marcos. It could not have been done without the US propaganda and the media convincing the public to follow the plan. The public bought into the plan and believed it was their own plan.

  12. The Americans “put” the Acquino’s in power did they? They also kept Marcos in power for many years, until he became too much of a liability. If the Filipino electorate had had the intelligence to think about what they (i,e the country) needed, rather than what they wanted (300P, a free Jollibee meal, t-shirt etc.) then the country wouldn’t be in such a mess.

  13. It was George Will who baited Marcos to declare an election. It wasn’t the U.S. government. Marcos was a guest in David Brinkley Show and he was being interviewed. George Will question was “If you think you still have the mandate of the filipino people, why don’t you declare an election? Right in front of the american audience he accepted the challenge.

    • RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO on

      Read my column on Monday. Laxalt asked Marcos to undertake snap elections and to announce it In Brinkley talk show.

  14. Pilipinas Kong Mahal on

    …AND THE REST WAS HISTORY. INCOMPETENT GOVERNMENT, VINDICTIVENESS, VERY POOR PHILIPPINES, YELLOW PERSUASION. I AM SO DELIGHTED THAT YELLOW ERA IS THE THING OF THE PAST.

  15. HONASAN AND ABENINA COMMITTED THE “SNAFU”,definitely “MISCALCULATED”” THE OPPORTUNE TIMING OF THE ASSALT IN MALACANANG!THE TOP CIA AGENT, SDND FIDEL RAMOS ACTUALLY SAVED THE CORY GOVT!
    ALL THE MORE,,WE FILIPINOS CAN NOW APPRECIATE THE PCORY DID EVERYTHING,EVEN COMMITTING ELECTORAL SABOTAGE TO “INSTALL FVR ” IN 1992,
    DO YOU STILL WANT TO.
    CALL HER A “SAINT”?

  16. Whew, what a story. The USA again comes to the rescue of its minions. Thanks for the information, which adds to our understanding of our international relations.

  17. This is the first historical narrative and a confirmation that quo rhee was just a puppet and a creation of a misguided sense of the US messianic complex. Ditto with the sister of the STD-victim who had to clothe and legitimize his subservience with all the powers of the Office. How pathetic indeed is the progeny of the congenital liar whose megalomanic pursuit of the presidency has created this divisiveness that still lingers and rears its ugly tentacles up to now. How I wish all the pseudo journalists, historians and academics be more circumspect and view our more recent history from a macro perspective with an apolitical prism – an analysis of objective concrete conditions in the context of historical dialectics.

  18. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT IS FOND OF MEDDLING IN A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY’S AFFAIR IN THE GUISE OF FREEDOM. ACTUALLY, IT IS THEIR INTEREST THAT THEY ARE PROTECTING NO MATTER WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO A COUNTRY. THEY WILL CONTROL AND DICTATE THE COUNTRY OF WHAT THEY WANT AND THE POLICIES OF THAT COUNTRY SHOULD DOVETAIL WITH THEIR POLICIES.

    THE PHILIPPINES IS ONE OF THIS COUNTRIES, THE COUNTRY IS TREATED LIKE THEIR “SERVANT” WITHOUT DIGNITY AND RESPECT. THIS HAS BEEN THE SITUATION BECAUSE THE COUNTRY’S PRESIDENTS FROM THE WALANG ALAM NA CORY, RAMOS, ESTRADA, ARROYO, AND THE NOYNOYING ABOY AQUINO. MAYBE WE CANNOT BLAME THE U.S. GOVERNMENT FOR THE SITUATION BECAUSE THE PAST PRESIDENTS OF THE COUNTRY WERE LAMEDUCKS AND HAVE NO BACKBONE AND FEET TO STAND ON – PURO LANG HINGI NG HINGI AT TAKOT HINDI MABIGYAN NG AIDS OR DONATIONS.

    NOW COMES PRESIDENT DUTERTE WHO KNOWS HIS WORK AND LAWS, HIS ONLY DEMAND OR HE IS ONLY ASKING FOR RESPECT AND DIGNITY FOR THE COUNTRY AND FILIPINO PEOPLE. HINDI PWEDE NA WE ARE BEING TREATED LIKE A “PATAY GUTOM” NA NATION THAT AS IF, WE CANNOT SURVIVE OR OUR SURVIVAL HINGES ON THEIR AIDS AND DONATIONS.

    THERE ARE SO MANY AMERICANS WHO SYMPATHIZE AND UNDERSTAND WITH OUR PRESENT SITUATION AND GOVERNMENT. IN FACT AN AMERICAN SENATOR, SEN. BLACK, WHO WAS INTERVIEWED SA TV DEFENDED AND SYMPATHIZE WITH THE ACTION OF PRESIDENT DUTERTE. SEN. BLACK EVEN SAID THAT THE US GOVERNMENT SHOULD UNDERSTAND THE FILIPINO CULTURE AND RESPECT THE PHILIPPINES AS A SOVEREIGN COUNTRY AND A VERY IMPORTANT/STRATEGICAL ALLY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA SEN. BLACK ADMIRED PRES. DUTERTE FOR WAKING UP.

    THE INTERVIEW OF SENATOR BLACK CAN BE VIEWED AT YOUTUBE.

  19. Honasan and the rest of them with messiah complex could have been far worst than the yellow brigade, making our country a banana republic like the countries of South America of the 1950’s.Just a sigh of relief the yellow cult is over!

  20. You couldn’t have chosen a more credible source. Colin Powell is as straight as a a laser beam. No wonder Cory tried her utmost to keep the bases! Wouldn’t you if you had to make sure the phantom jets ẃould ward off phantom wannabes?

    Thanks for the insight.