Author philippinediaryproject

D-Day, Nov.26 (Thursday)

6:00AM–Early morning, government forces took over and occupied the ARMM facilities and other buildings and premises in Maguindanao province. Armed elements loyal to the Ampatuans were taken by surprise and gave up their firearms without resistance.

I was nervous a bit but confident. The “what if” scenarios kept popping up in my mind. I motored to the 601stbrigade for the final briefings. The choppers would pick me up from there. Gen Ferrer and I watched as more newly arrived troops were jumping off towards designated areas.

9:00AM – I was informed that something went wrong with the Huey helicopters coming from Cotabato . The Davao choppers were instead dispatched but would not be able to arrive by 10AM.

9:55AM – I got a call from Col Geslani whom we tasked to liaison with the Ampatuans that they were requesting for a little time as they were waiting for their lawyer who was still on the road to arrive. That was a break I needed. The 2 choppers arrived. We discussed with the pilot and crew contingencies and procedures.

10:45AM, we were ready to jump off upon cue from Col Geslani. It would be a short 35 minute hop from the brigade to Shariff Aguak. My staff Cecil said she’s getting nervous but insisted on joining. My assistant, Yo was busy texting. But wait, another problem suddenly cropped up. As we were boarding, one the 2 PNP officers tasked to escort the suspect said they could not use the handcuff on Ampatuan as the KEY WAS MISSING! What about the other handcuff with your buddy, I asked. “Ganon din po sir”, he replied. “Sh_t!” I almost fell from my seat!.(”Sarap sapakin!”) But there was no more time. We then agreed that he would be strapped with the seat belt and the policemen would firmly clasp the buckles to prevent any unexpected situation while airborne. (When I was asked later by reporters why Ampatuan was not handcuffed, I had a ready curt answer with a straight face: “He is adequately restrained!”. Sec Agnes promptly responded with the same line when she was asked upon landing in Manila. )

11:20AM Two Hueys landed on the Maguindanao province capitol grounds. The Huey engines were not shut off as agreed in case a sudden exit maneuver was necessary. I waited for 20 minutes on the ground. I was getting worried. Finally, I saw my staff Ollie with his thumbs up sign. Col Geslani signalled, they were on their way. My “what if” scare disappeared. The capitol gates opened. The Ampatuan family arrived on board vehicles from another location nearby. Gov Zaldy clasping my hand said: “Ipaubaya ni amah si Datu Unsay sayo” and turned over Datu Unsay to me. We boarded the aircraft with Atty. Cynthia , insisting she had to ride with him.

11:40AM, Helis took off enroute Gen Santos City where Sec. Agnes and her crew were waiting for an inquest proceeding. But again something happened. About a few minutes airborne and while still climbing and gaining altitude, I first noticed some flapping sound outside. I thought, maybe some loose parts of the chopper. The noise kept coming, intermittent. I looked down and maybe I saw flashes but I was not sure. Suddenly the Huey banked sharply to the right and simultaneously, several short bursts from our two Huey gunners at the back. The bursts startled all of us. The evasive maneuver by the pilot also jarred us. All of us kept our heads low as the Huey steeply climbed. My staff Jerry and Col Mac who were seated beside the open Huey doors ducked. The soldier at the back shouted, “ground fire, sir”. We still climbed. The flapping sound from outside could not be heard anymore. The gunners later told me ground fire sounded like flapping from the air.

The evasive action and the machinegun bursts were SOP. At 2,000 feet altitude, we cruised. That’s when I saw on the Huey floor an empty shell from the bursts of the M-60 machinegun on board.

I picked up the empty shell, then pocketed it for good luck.

At the Gensan airport, I called the Boss: “Mission accomplished, Mrs. President.”

Day Three -Nov. 25, (Wednesday)

830AM, I visited a funeral parlor in Marbel. Some bodies not identified yet. I then directed DSWD 12 to attend to the immediate needs of the families, and that DOH 12 and OCD 12 were to assist. I motored to Tacurong at 601stbrigade and met the NBI team that just arrived from Manila. I reconvened the crisis committee and mapped up moves on how to fast track work . A team of PNP investigators were sent to the residence of Buluan Vice Mayor Toto Mangudadatu to get statements but they were told that affidavits of their witnesses would be submitted instead perhaps the following day. I was already aware that the outrage over the killings mounted. And government was being criticized for slow action.

12 NOON –Over lunch at the brigade, I consulted with the crisis committee on my plan: it was time to contact the Ampatuans and call in Datu Unsay to voluntarily surrender. As they committed to me yesterday.

I was also quietly informed that an operational plan was underway to forcibly take custody of him.

2:00PM – On my way to Marbel to dialogue with all the families of the victims, I made several calls. First with ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan. I told him it was time to bring in Datu Unsay. He told me he would consult the father, Gov. Andal. I said I had only until 5 pm that day to work on this plan. After 5pm, the scenario would no longer be the same, I told him.

4:00PM – While meeting the families of victims in downtown Marbel, I got a call from the father, Gov Andal telling me that he would turnover to me Datu Unsay but requested that the deadline be moved from 5pm today to 10 AM, the following day. I immediately told him I could not guarantee things if the deadline was moved. He said the Ampatuan clan would meet that evening and discuss things and bid goodbye to Datu Unsay. I told him I would get back to him by phone. I made calls and informed some of my colleagues (with whom I had been consulting from the beginning) of the request.

There were objections. Understandable reservations: what if the extension was a ruse to escape that evening? What were the guarantees that he would voluntarily surrender during the new deadline? People were becoming outraged not only on the crime but on the perceived slowness of government, so why waste more time? The forces were ready to strike, so why delay?

But I also reasoned back: How sure are we that we would get Datu Unsay in the operations? (From yesterday’s visit to the Ampatuans, I was certain that he was not there in the immediate vicinity but came from somewhere far.) An assault would surely cost lives knowing the armaments, the culture and the situation. People were crying for swift action but I would not agree to precipitate action. I also said I believed Gov Andal was sincere when he told me he would bring out his son when needed. To wrap up my point, I said: I would take full responsibility for whatever outcome.

My new timeline was adopted. I moved the deadline to 10:00 AM the following day.

That night, we reviewed the “pickup” scenario several times and mapped out contingencies just in case things would not go as planned. In the meantime, government troops moved according to operational plans. That evening, I got a call from Atty. Cynthia getting an assurance from me that nothing would be launched that evening until the 10 AM pickup time the following day. I told her if there were troop movements, these were in support of the 10 AM “pickup”.

Later in the night, another complication suddenly arose. Gen Serapio and Col Geslani informed me that they got information that Toto Mangudadatu would motor with his followers to file his certificate of candidacy the following morning in Shariff Aguak. I immediately called Gov. Teng Mangudadatu. I told him that there was something afoot the following morning and that without disclosing what it was all about, I requested if he could convince Toto to move his filing to another day. A few minutes later, Gov Teng called and said the clan agreed.

Day Two – Nov 24 (Tuesday)

Bert and I took the earliest flight to Gen Santos City. At the 601stbrigade in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, briefings were held. Initial photos of the carnage were flashed on the screen. Gruesome! Next we met with the Mangudadatus, many of them my personal friends.

They were tense and angry. They wanted to retrieve the bodies immediately. They demanded justice, immediately. The Ampatuans did it, they said. After Bert and I expressed government’s resolve to do everything possible, Toto Mangudadatu said they will cooperate. No retaliatory action but government must give justice.

12 NOON – A teleconferencing call connected Bert and me to the Palace where the President was presiding over a hastily called security meeting. We were getting specific instructions from her. So did Bert, PNP Chief Jess Versoza and AFP Vice CS Maclang who arrived with us. Her voice had that sense of urgency. Inputs from the other cabinet members were also relayed.

1:00 PM – The crisis management committee was activated. Assisting me were Eastmincom Gen Ferrer and PNP 12 Director Serapio.

2:00 PM – Bert left to fly back to Manila. Col Geslani, brigade commander assisted in setting up the command center. It was at this time that I operationalized an action plan I quietly formulated in my mind. It was a simple plan drawing lessons from past experiences.

3:00PM – Having talked with the Mangudadatus, I decided to go see the Ampatuans in Shariff Aguak. I felt confident. Both families were my friends. And I had direct access to them. With my staff and without military escorts, except for one military officer, Col Macario as guide, I motored to the Ampatuan residence.

3:45PM —I entered the Ampatuan fenced premises and the patriarch Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Sr was there waiting for me. With him seated in a “ bahay kubo” on the sprawling grounds were several ARMM and Maguindanao officials and relatives. Armed followers were everywhere.

After informing Gov. Andal that my purpose in coming was because of the incident and that his son, Mayor Datu Unsay Ampatuan, Jr. was implicated , I told “Bapa” Andal that it would be best that the Ampatuans also “cooperate”. I said that Datu Unsay should submit to an investigation. He immediately said: “ OK. Kausapin mo sya. Ipatawag ko si Datu Unsay. Basta kayo secretary walang problema”. I told him I wanted to see Datu Unsay as I got reports that he was missing or had escaped. Bapa said: “Hindi yan totoo. Darating si Datu Unsay. Magpakita sya sayo secretary”. Bapa Andal as usual, was a man of few words. We then went inside the house to wait for the son’s arrival. In the meantime, ARMM Gov Zaldy Ampatuan and Cong. Digs Dilangalen arrived from the airport. Usec Zam Ampatuan, Atty Cynthia Guiani Sayadi, among others were there too. I felt a bit tense and uncomfortable. I did not want to start talking about the incident until Unsay would arrive. We were chatting for about an hour trying to divert the issue and loosen up. A lively conversation centered on how many children some of their relatives had. One relative had 70 children. Of course from several mothers. Etc.

4:30PM – We waited. I noticed that Atty. Cynthia was using her cellphone and taking pictures while we were chatting. Unsay arrived and got seated on my left. We continued a bit about our light banter until Unsay settled down. (GMA7 later that same evening showed some pictures on TV. My wife Beth texted me and called my attention immediately when she saw it: “Bakit ka smile kasama mga Ampatuan. Not proper.” I agreed. But I was puzzled where the pictures came from and who sent them. There were no media people around. I surmised Cynthia did it.)

5:00PM. – I was becoming worried that darkness would overtake my return trip to Sultan Kudarat. Many armed and uniformed men on the highway. One could not tell what group or unit. So when Unsay got seated, I immediately told him that I came because of the serious incident and that initial reports mentioned his name as involved. I told him my purpose in coming was only to be assured that he would cooperate and submit himself to any investigation. He looked at the direction of Gov Andal who spoke first: “ Gaya ng sinabi ko sayo kanina, magcooperate kami, secretary”. Then Unsay himself echoed saying: “Mag cooperate po kami secretary”. I then stood up and said I would contact them again soon.

We arrived in Marbel already dark and stayed there for the night.

Day One —Nov 23 (Monday)

– I was monitoring closely reports about a missing convoy in Maguindanao with media friends. Later in the day, reports of mass murder of the Mangudadatus were confirmed. Allegedly by Datu Unsay Ampatuan Jr. et al. My instincts told me this could very well be a very explosive situation. . When media called, I said I would recommend proclaiming a state of emergency. At 8 p.m. SND Bert Gonzales and I met. He told me the President had directed that I act as “crisis manager”.

September 17, 1985

Lito Banayo, Roger Davis, Raul Contreras and Banz Arrieta are coordinating my PR. Tony Cantero is also helping. Our problem is, as expected, funding. Nap Rama and Titong Roces are doing their bit with Malaya. So also Jun Campillo. Marilou Abaya is directing production of my video tape for TV showing.

August 28, 1985

Met today with the Cebu MPs led by Celing Fernan, Sonny Osmeña, Tony Cuenco, Inday Nita Daluz, Junie Martinez and Rene Espina. We have solid support in Cebu. I will proceed to Ilocos region on Friday, the 30th. Pablito Sanidad is in charge. We will cover Ilocos Sur and La Union and Baguio. In keeping with an old unwritten tradition, I will skip Ilocos Norte in this campaign. Then to Zambales c/o Raul Gonzales and Pampanga c/o Tony Angeles. Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro next week. Side trip to Butuan. Bicol next.

August 26, 1985

I presented to Cardinal Sin for his viewing the videotapes and photos taken by Orly Mercado of the Marcos properties in US. We are showing these to various business groups .

August 21, 1985

Today is Ninoy’s death anniversary. Mass at 9 am and lunch with the UNIDO MPs at the Law Office. Then march from EDSA. Uncle Billy Javellana is in town. He was very kind to us Filipino students when we were in Yale. Bing Padilla and Grace will host dinner for him this evening. Tomorrow Class ’52 UP Law will hold a reunion at Club Filipino. Class ’52 will mobilize all classmates and campaign in their respective areas. Tony Centero is also mobilizing the Upsilon.

August 19, 1985

Met with JBL and Neptali Gonzales, Nani Perez, Arthur Defensor re filing of impeachment complaint vs. Marcos. Chances are very slim in the Batasan because it is dominated by Marcos. But it can add pressure to Marcos to make him call a Snap Election.

June 23, 1985

Just arrived from Tokyo-US trip. Opposition in US strong and organized. But they are skeptical about my chances of beating Marcos. They know that the people will vote for me but the votes will not be counted. But they will do what they can.

Solarz, Cranston, Kennedy, Kerry (Democrats) are very sympathetic to UNIDO.

Will meet with UNIDO MPs to map out anti-fraud strategy.

The Liberal Party leaders are not too active. Will meet with Macapagal and Salonga. Could it be because Eva Kalaw is too openly identified with me? She is claiming leadership of LP.

June 14, 1985

I will have to raise funds. Many friends are helping but not enough to support a presidential campaign. Marcos is entrenched –20 years in power. He is no longer popular and he is sick -but businessmen are still afraid of him. I will have to tap friends in Japan and U.S.

Since Marcos has not yet announced the holding of snap elections, this gives me time to raise funds and go around the country. UNIDO will have to match KBL organization. KBL has all the local officials as members. But we have the people. It’s a matter of making them know that the opposition is united under one leader and candidate. The people want change. They have had enough of Marcos.

Meanwhile, beside fund-raising, a calibrated exposure to media, especially the foreign press, which is not under control of Malacañang! I will be fighting a man with unlimited funds and who has the AFP as his private army!

Consolidating opposition forces while reaching out to disgruntled KBLs.

Leaving for Cagayan de Oro to meet Mindanao leaders. Leaving for Tokyo, New York and Washington. Will be back on Sunday, June 23.

June 12, 1985

Today was a whole day affair. More than 25,000 delegates and leaders of UNIDO attended the Nominating Convention at the Araneta Coliseum. They came at their own expense. All we gave them was a hamburger, two hard boiled eggs and a banana for lunch. All political leaders identified with the opposition were present. Even Cory came despite attempts of her “advisers” to dissuade her.* I am told by old-timers that it was the biggest and fightingest political convention on record –and I was unanimously nominated presidential standard bearer of the opposition. I expect Marcos to call a snap election soon –before Christmas.

This will be an all-out fight.

I immediately set the tone of the presidential campaign in my acceptance speech which I entitled “The Final Battle”:

The UNIDO is committed to non-violent change. Bloody revolution is not the only path to freedom: Democracy cannot take root amidst violence. All confrontation must end in reconciliation.

But those who would oppose us know that we will never give up this fight.

We will never give up the fight against repressive rule, against deception, against hypocrisy, against the twisting and shrouding of truth. We will never give up the right to live as human beings in a society where human rights are not denied at the will or whim of one man. Democracy is non-negotiable.

*I am confident we will have only one candidate in the opposition. The only other possible candidate is Cory but she has repeatedly told me she is not interested and that she will never run for the presidency. She has said this privately and publicly. She appears to be sincere. She attended today’s convention and even delivered a speech supporting my candidacy. I was told her advisers (Tañada, Diokno, Arroyo) were trying to stop her and she was in tears because she wanted to –and she did. Her advisers obviously have their own agenda. I hope Cory will not become a tool in their hands.

Jan. 1, 1983

I had sought to protect the sacredness and preciousness of my memories of the war with the sanctity of silence. So I had refused to talk or write about them except in an indirect way when forced to as when I offered my medals to the dead for I believed all such medals belonged to them.

But the sanctity of silence has been broken by the pettiness and cynicism that overwhelms the contemporary world. And the small souls whose vicarious achievement is to insult and offend the mighty and the achievers have succeeded in trivializing the most solemn and honorable of deeds and intentions. Their pettiness has besmirched with the foul attention the honorable service of all who have received medals and citations in the last World War. They have not excluded me. But instead have made me their special target as the most visible of those who offered blood, honor and life to our people.

So I must fight the battles of Bataan all over again. We must walk our Death March in the hot April sun once again. The Calvary of the USAFFE must again be told.

For we bleed and die again. This time in the hands of men who claim to be our countrymen.

(The Philippines News Story)

the…

Nov. 25, 1977

And so I ended my personal war without any sense of victory but weighed down by the tears that could not flow.

My hope was that I could heal the scars of my spirit, more galling than those of my body.

My right abdominal muscles were cut through never to grow back and my left knee was mangled.

But the injury of my soul was deeper and despairing.

November 24, 1977

I have decided to add interest to the referendum campaign by picking Ex-Pres. Macapagal as the best strawman and issuing an answer to his charges before the Manila Lion’s Club under Cesar Lucero on the MNLF having been brought about by the proclamation of martial law, martial law lifting and my resigning as president and leaving the country so that there would be free elections.

November 10, 1977

Conversation with Sison.

April 1, 1976

I have asked USec Collantes to tell the American chargé d’affaires that there is a warrant of arrest or threat against Ex Pres. Macapagal and we will help him go whenever he wants to go –even to the U.S.

The chargé told Gen. Ver and USec Collantes that “Political asylum is out.” They must be embarrassed by the Macapagal “escape” to their premises.

May 17, 1974

Our basic strategy with respect to Malaysia is to impress her with our credible defense posture and capability. Thus the announcement on Phil. Air Force Day of the need to increase our armed forces first by [illegible] then to 256,000. I did not announce that including the local police of about 100,000 and private security groups of 40,000 this would total 396,000 by the end of 1976.

Today we sign the Memorandum of Agreement with the US through Amb. Sullivan for the setting up of the Colt M-16 rifle factory in Bataan.

May 2-May 14, 1974

Pres. Soeharto has met Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak at Penang, Malaysia and returned to Jakarta. Sec. Romulo who attended the ASEAN minister’s conference saw Pres. Soeharto to deliver my letter wherein I pointedly accused Malaysia of training the rebels in the South and furnishing arms, equipment and funds to them.

One thing disturbs me and that is that Pres. Soeharto seems to be convinced by Razak. He has said that “he considered the evidence of both parties of equal weight,” and the situation in Mindanao is “serious and deteriorating…” I have told him that we can handle the internal situation. We are concerned about war which we must prevent. I enclose the cable of Romulo and my answer.

He has invited me to meet him in Monado instead of Balikpapan and on the 29-30 and not on the 25th.

I intend to go there by yacht. Sec. Melchor went there by C-130 and suggests docking at Bitong, instead.

I attach the letter of Pres. Soeharto which I received from Maj. Gen. Noli Jokjobranapalo -and my answer.

Amb. Sullivan met me last Thursday May 9th and reported on his trip to Washington. I attach my notes.

Apparently he cannot prmise any of the tactical missiles. But A-4 (Skyhawk) or F 5-A planes and radar for the south on credit (FMS).

Sugar -1.5 million tons quota and reduction of the tariff on coconut oil and veneer.

So I intend to issue the three decrees -Retail Trade, Anti-Dummy amendment and length of leases as well as the press statement on the one year period of adjustment of real estate titles.

Sep. 22, 1973 Saturday

I have often said achievement is but the meeting or congruence of preparation and opportunity.

But Father Donalan told Imelda that in addition to this I have had luck….

I admit that I have had phenomenal luck in time of war as well as peace.

And there must be a Guiding Hand above who has forgiven me my sins, of which I have had more than my mortal share, and led me to my destiny.

Because all the well-nigh impossible accomplishments have seemed to be natural and fore ordained. And into the role of supposed hero in battle, top scholar, President I seemed to have gracefully moved into without the awkwardness of pushiness and over anxiety.