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 MEMORIES OF THE YELLOW REGIME (THE LONG-HIDDEN TRUTH)           One can consider the events that happened after the 1986 EDSA Revolt to be...



          One can consider the events that happened after the 1986 EDSA Revolt to be among the grimmest in Philippine history. Let’s look at it at the perspectives of artists, caricaturists and photographers. 

          Not even a year after the de facto government of Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino (1933-2009) took over, the Mendiola Massacre happened on January 22, 1987. It will be remembered in Philippine History as the Black Thursday when unarmed farmers were fired upon by the police, soldiers, and PSGs killing 17 and injuring several dozens more. Though the media were supressed, the grim memories and gruesome mementos of that infamous day will not be forgotten. Most of the photographs and documentations of that darkest of days were either confiscated and destroyed, or deliberately revised to mislead the public. Only a few remained intact to unveil the stories of horror and brutalities committed during the so-called Yellow Regime. Very few mainstream journalists during Cory’s reign – Louie Beltran (1936-1994), Renato Constantino (1919-1999), Melinda Liu, Catherine Manegold, Luis Teodoro, Rigoberto Tiglao, Luisa Torregosa – had the courage to tell the truth.
Pictures of the grim Mendiola Massacre through the lens of photojournalist Luis Liwanag.
(January 22, 1987)
A few more surviving memories of the Mendiola Massacre, the legacy of the Yellow Regime.

          Quite unknown to the general public, Cory Aquino’s regime committed hideous records of human-rights violations. From March 1986 to December 1991, the number of warrantless arrests and detention reached nearly 16,000. Extrajudicial executions numbered 1,733 cases, including 189 that occurred in 1990 alone. Only in recent years that much of the hidden atrocities of the Cory Regime were being uncovered, together with that of her son, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s deeds of graft and corruptions. History, indeed, will always correct itself. Tribulation and karma will in time reach all those who are the real culprits of injustices.
Happy Birthday Cory.
Three days after the grim Mendiola Massacre,
coffins were laid on the foot bridge leading to Malacañang,
as birthday gifts to a yellow fascist leader.
          At the onset Cory Aquino was branded by both local and foreign media as the “bringer of democracy” in the Philippines. The color yellow, her color, became the pigment of hope. It didn’t take long, however, before the masked evil started to show its face. All of her regime’s promises of reforms never happened. The government did nothing to alleviate the suffering of the people. The price of commodities skyrocketted to more than sixty times its value barely a year after. The oligarchy allied to Cory’s regime entrenched themselves in politics, media and utility businesses. The rich became richer and the poor became poorer.
Flying Galunggong.
Prices of commodities skyrocketed beyond the reach of the common tao,
including the so-called poor man’s fish, galunggong,
that soon it was sarcastically dabbed as “Cory fish” by activists.
          Graft and corruption became the order of the day, as the political leeches imprisoned by the Marcos administration were released and given political tenure in Cory’s government. Scalawags in the police and military also freely abused the citizenry. Cory’s allies were holding the power and the rein in the tri-media, and because of this very little if any of the abuses were made public.
          President Cory Aquino was for the retention of the US military bases in the Philippines, despite the abuses committed by the American servicemen. Senator Jovito Salonga (1920-2016) and several nationalist senators defied the president and pushed for its removal. Mount Pinatubo erupted on June 12, 1991, as if Mother Nature is declaring that the Philippines be freed from the “bald eagle’s claws.” It could also be interpreted as a warning to the incumbent powers-that-be that there are greater forces watching over the nation.
The Many Faces of Mount Pinatubo’s Eruption.
For several days since June 12, 1991, Philippine Independence Day,
the volcano dormant for more than 600 years came to life,
and became one of the strongest volcanic eruptions in recorded history.
(Pilipino Reporter #283, July 21, 1991)

Glimpses of the destruction brought about by Mt. Pinatubo’s Wrath.
(Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 19, 1991 and Philippines Star, August 1991)

           The US military bases in the Philippines were established through the Parity Agreement in 1947, which allowed the United States to establish and operate air and naval bases in the Philippines for a period of 99 years. This agreement also started the Philippines’ so-called “mendicant foreign policy.” Interesting to note that it was President Manuel Roxas (1892-1948), one of the founding father of the Liberal Party, who initiated this policy. Claro M. Recto (1890-1960) and Jose P. Laurel (1891-1959) opposed it. President Roxas even made a public speech of loyalty (according to Recto, more like subserviency or sycophancy), “kissing the American anus,” at the Kelly Theater on April 15, 1948.
          After the abolition of the 1935 Constitution, and the ratification of the 1973 constitution, then First Lady Imelda Marcos’ visited Cuba. She learned from Fidel Castro (1926-2016) that “after 30 years, any lease agreement between sovereign nations concerning land occupancy becomes permanent, and may only be abrogated by mutual consent.” This was based on Cuba’s experience regarding the Guantanamo Naval Base. That is how the base inside Cuba became US property, since sovereignty was absolute within the premises of the said base, and the lease agreement cannot be unilaterally terminated. Upon knowing this, she immediately told President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1917-1989) knowing fully its parallel consequence on Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base. Thereupon subsequent amendments and provisions in the Constitution were made and new agreement drafted such that the military bases became renegotiable every five years. In reality, it is President Marcos  that we should thank for the removal of the US military bases (It was considered as one of the prime reason why Pres. Marcos was deposed).
          This made it possible for the Philippine Senate in 1991 under Jovito Salonga to vote for the removal of the bases. President Cory Aquino was for the status quo; she doesn’t want her benefactor to leave. Aquino, in a vain effort to make the Senate ratify the treaty extending the Military Bases Agreement, even led a march to the Senate with around a thousand of her supporters to lobby for the approval of the treaty.
          Despite the lobbying, however, by a vote of 12-11, the proposed treaty to renew the military bases agreement was rejected by the Senate led by the 12 senators, whom the media later called the “Magnificent 12.” They were Senate President Jovito Salonga and senators Agapito Aquino (1939-2015), Juan Ponce Enrile, Joseph Estrada, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Sotero Laurel (1918-2009), Ernesto Maceda (1935-2016), Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel Jr, Rene Saguisag, Wigberto Tañada and Victor Ziga – who authored and signed Resolution 1259 of Non-Concurrence to the proposed treaty. “The treaty is defeated,” so announced Salonga at the time.
          Senator Salonga, who has headed the 23-member Senate for five years and clashed frequently with President Aquino, for his part, paid a price for his defiance of the yellow widow’s wishes. The nationalist senator (though he was also a Liberal Party member just like the Aquinos) was voted out as Senate President and his financial backer in the business community withdrew their support for his presidential bid.

          I remember submitting a dissertation defending Senator Jovito Salonga’s stand in favor of the removal of U.S. military bases in the Philippines.

EXCERPTS: “Pres. Marcos was branded by activists as a U.S. puppet, and these same activists helped put Pres. Aquino in Malacañang. What would they say now that Cory is for the retention of the U.S. Military Bases? This she did in gratitude for the Americans who helped deposed Marcos and put her in power. Would they venture to say that she is ‘a puppet in the making’ or ‘an already-puppet in disguise?’ Poor Senator Salonga took the brunt of her anger, when the ‘nationalist’ (though he’s a Liberal) lawmaker insisted that ‘the Americans should go.’ He got booted out of the Senate leadership..... But Mother Nature decided for herself what is best for the Philippines when Mount Pinatubo erupted and the Americans quickly scampered out of Clark and Subic. I don’t think Cory can do anything about that. Thank God! Hahaha!”


          My dissertation article was never published. Editor Bernie de Leon told me that if he published it, “mame-memo kami!”
          Senator Salonga lost the Senate leadership and the support of the Makati Business Club for his presidential bid for disobeying Cory. He could have been a very good president. 
A tribute to Senator Jovito Salonga from the Claire Delfin Media (left),
and the banner headline of Philippine Daily Inquirer Decmber 13, 1991 issue (right).

          Another instance for which I was indirectly a party in interest is that of my friend Lean Alejandro, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) founder. Sometime in July 1987, about two months before he was killed, he invited me to eat pansit malabon to talk about “something.” July was, incidentally, both our birth month. He told me that he was disappointed of the outcome of events and was planning a nationwide protest rally to air these disappointments. I told him to be careful as Cory’s regime and the leeches around her are very vindictive and the rule of law does not yet have grounds to stand on after the EDSA Revolt.
          I still remember what he said to me: “Isang kabalintunaan naman na ngayon pa ako papatayin kung kailan naitatag ang sinasabi nilang demokrasya.” (It’s ironic that they will try to assassinate me now that they said they have established democracy.) In answer, I reminded him of what happened to KMU leader Rolando Olalia, who was assassinated just a few months after Cory’s ascension to power. We both felt cold shivers ran down our spines that instance.
          On September 17, 1987, Lean Alejandro announced that BAYAN will launched a nationawide protests and demonstrations. Two days later, he was cold-bloodedly assassinated. Some speculated that hitmen from the so-called “Yellow Army” did it. It’s been more than three decades and the case is still unresolved.
BAYAN Founder Lean Alejandro
on the cover of PHR Update International Edition
(September 1987)
          Much of the military especially those stationed in Northern Luzon and Mindanao were still loyal to President Marcos during the Yellow Regime. And those that helped put her in power were disgruntled by her refusal to cause reforms. So, Cory asked for protection from the powerful Democratic bloc and liberal politicians in the US to protect his presidency against the expected unrest from the Philippine military. That’s why no coup attempt ever made it to second base.
A caricature on the US-Aquino master-puppet collaboration
from the once independent left-leaning newspaper, Malaya,
before a change of management in 1987 turned it
 into a subservient pro-Aquino media.
          The vindictive persecutions of the Marcos Loyalists, common people, who went to the streets to air their grievances regarding the harassments and discrimination by the Cory Regime, and their unwavering call for the return of the American-exiled duly-elected president of the country, were etched in the street walls and corridors greater than any blasphemous monuments built to commemorate a “fake” revolution.
Editorial Caricatures of Danny Acuña
on the plight of Marcos Loyalists under the Cory Regime.
(Tonite, August 7 and 9, 1991)

          The students, the masses, the common tao, the left, and even the military finally realized that they were used; they were tricked and duped by the yellow fascist-oligarchy into participating in the overthrow of the Marcos government. Soon “EDSA” started to have a different connotation. It became a byword in barbershops, carinderias, talipapas, in the campus, in the streets, in jeepney talks, that when you say na-EDSA it came to mean naloko (fooled or tricked) or nadenggoy (duped).

More to come

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