Thursday, January 19, 2012

The empty second envelope--January 19, 2001

A decade ago, I remember being at Mendiola bridge with several hundreds of people. This was what people who benefited from the successor administration termed as "EDSA dos"--a repeat of the first EDSA which toppled former strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Two days before, I was told by my news manager that I am being "put in the freezer" by Jesse Ejercito for allegedly being part of the conspiracy to oust his brother, former president Joseph Estrada. My news manager, along with our AVP for Marketing was just told of the bad news and they shared it with me. I vehemently protested, but nevertheless, accepted the verdict.  I never admitted anything, because I never wanted to be a squealer. 

The revolt did happen when all of Estrada's generals defected and some of his cabinet members abandoned him, and that included Mar Roxas. I was asked to report to the field and I reported live there, reporting that thousands of people were seen very close to the Palace gates. Former general and my kumpadre Ed Aglipay was asked to secure the palace, while other generals, namely, another kumpadre Romy Maganto was with a phalanx of protesters at gate 3. A team of negotiators from the Arroyo camp was sent to Erap. Erap decided to back down. Instead of using the land route going to San Juan, he chose to ride in a Coast Guard boat. The rest, as they say, is history in the most terrible fashion.

That historical event was pictured to have been a "spontaneous" combustion of public outrage when the Senate, acting as an impeachment trial, prevented the opening of the "second envelope" which allegedly contained incriminating evidence against the former president. A decade hence, and the former president learned from Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr  that that second envelope contained absolutely nothing. 

Pimentel's revelations accurately described what had happened.  That event was a poor duplicate of the first. It was a pure and naked grab of power from someone who was overwhelmingly elected by the people . It was a simple intra-elite struggle punctuated by a coup conspiracy. That coup was like lightning--it blinded millions of people and made them hate their president without even knowing why.

I was one of those who were blinded, and I only realized the error of my judgment when former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made her election bid speech  at Rizal's day of 2003.

That was the spark that lifted the blinds from the eyes of people. Arroyo was worst than Estrada they say. Fact is, among the poor and the masses, where I belong, there was this ditty that says, " At least Erap tried to help the mahihirap..."

The lesson here is simple---don't believe rumors otherwise, you'll lose your presidential mandate.