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The Conspiracy of EDSA 2 1

The conspiracy of Edsa 2: how Gloria Arroyo managed
not to let President Joseph Estrada finish his term

Let [President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] finish her term.
She's doing so well. Why can't you wait?

- M. Andrews, presidential ex- classmate

Uttered amidst the increasing pressure for Gloria Arroyo to resign, this statement
made by an Assumptionista high school classmate of the beleaguered President
is actually a boomerang question that Andrews should have asked her pal seven
years ago during the power grab disguised as Edsa 2 "People Power." Why did
then Vice-President Arroyo not wait for the overwhelmingly-elected Philippine
President Joseph "Erap" Estrada to finish his term, instead of grabbing the
Philippine presidency away from him in 2001? In the face of accusations of
supposed corruption and resignation calls against Estrada, similar to what Arroyo
is facing now, why didn't she wait? Why???

The answer is that Gloria Arroyo and his husband, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo,
were among those who planned, along with elements from the rich business
groups, the religious or hypocritical Catholic bishops and the rapacious fellow
opportunist politicians, the ouster of the hugely popular Estrada. Contrary to what
have been largely projected in the unscrupulous traditional media, the Arroyo
camp manipulated and conned the gullible but perhaps well-meaning Edsa 2
mob that demanded Estrada step down after it became clear that the Senate
would not impeach the sitting President.

Various international and local media accounts during and after the EDSA 2 coup
d' etat in the fateful days of January 2001 together paint the complete picture of
how the Arroyos "hijacked the Philippines," as referred to by outspoken local
journalist Ellen Tordesillas. The following accounts come from the movie "Power
Grab from President Estrada," Philippine Graphic, Time Magazine, The Straits
Times, International Herald Tribune and New York Times.

Trampling on the 1987 Philippine Charter and the Electoral Process

According to no less than the Honorable Cecilia Munoz-Palma, the former
Supreme Court Justice and chairperson of the 1987 Constitutional Commission,
Edsa 2 caused the 1987 Constitution to suffer. "This happened when the
ongoing impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada, was
unceremoniously disrupted and discontinued, and the issues on hand were
brought to the streets. The rule of law was set aside and the rule of force
prevailed.”
The Conspiracy of EDSA 2 2

Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, as quoted in the January 26, 2001
issue of The Straits Times, believed that "The change of power in the
Philippines was no boost for democracy because it was done outside the
constitution…”

Phil Bowring of the International Herald Tribune wrote in January 22, 2001 that
"far from being a victory for democracy that is being claimed by leaders of
the Anti-Estrada Movement such as Jaime Sin, the evolution of [the Edsa 2]
events have been a defeat for due process.”

The New York Times’ account, through Seth Mydans' article on February 6, 2001,
reported how Edsa 2 was perceived as "an elitist backlash against a
president who had overwhelmingly been elected by the poor. This time, it
appears, "people power" was used not to restore democracy but,
momentarily, to supplant it."

On January 21, 2001, Gloria Arroyo took her oath of office in open air, amidst the
jeering jubilation of a mob gullible enough to believe it was pure "People Power"
at work in the ouster of the popular President. Estrada, the only post-Martial Law
President who has been unequivocally elected into Malacanang, expressed
"strong and serious doubts about the legality and constitutionality of her
proclamation as President". Earlier, protesters in lynch mode had broken
through the barriers of the presidential palace where the embattled President
holed up.

Sinister and Well-Planned

Ludicrously unknown to the manipulated, gullible crowd of Edsa 2, the conjugal
greed of Mrs. and Mr. Arroyo had been well in the works days before Estrada's
impeachment trial began in the Senate. Two months after Gloria Arroyo took the
presidency, the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo recounted events that led up to
Edsa 2--revealing the political machinations and scheming that the husband and
wife team conducted behind the doors. The following are excerpts from the
interview Mike Arroyo granted to acclaimed Filipino writer Nick Joaquin, which
appeared in the March 5, 2001 issue of the Philippine Graphic:

"[Vice-President Gloria Arroyo] had really left the Cabinet at the right moment: the
timing was perfect. If she had tarried a moment longer, she would have been too
late for EDSA: she would have made it there as an opportunist. And as for the ill-
feeling in Metro Manila, we tackled that by going back to the door-to-door
campaign: she went from barangay to barangay explaining her motives, outlining
her program. And it worked. Then came the impeachment trial, and from there,
tuloy-tuloy na [everything fell into place].
The Conspiracy of EDSA 2 3

"There was a time honestly, when I felt I erred in advising her to resign
from the Cabinet. The masa [masses] in Manila apparently wanted her to
stick it out with Erap. And when she started attacking him, everything fell
on us - grabe [terrible!]- everything! But I told myself: it's now or never; if
we lose here we're totally destroyed and it's goodbye to her political career
- but if we win here, she becomes President! So we really fought.

"We got all those Erap tapes from Ramon Jacinto and distributed them all
over. We bought one million and a half million copies of Pinoy Times to
give away so the public could read about the Erap mansions and bank
accounts.

"And when EDSA happened, we texted everybody to go running there.
EDSA, EDSA: everybody converge on EDSA! Panalo kung panalo! [Patay
kung patay (Come victory or defeat)] Jinggoy [Estrada] had already
announced what they would do to us if they won.

"Chavit Singson had Plan B involving elements of the military to strike the
first blow. They would kindle the spark by withdrawing from the
government, and one by one, others would follow: Class '71 would also
withdraw, then Class '72, and so forth. But General de Villa warned that
the timing had to be precise because one untimely move against the
government and the military would automatically defend it. The move must
be made at what De Villa called a 'defining moment.'

"You see, General De Villa had his Plan A, which was better than ours,
because his was focused on the Chief of Staff and the Service
Commanders. At past one o'clock p.m. January 20, Chief of Staff Angelo
Reyes defected but we knew that already the night before, when
negotiations had lasted until the small hours. By past 2 a.m. we knew
Reyes had been convinced to join. His only condition was: Show us a
million people on EDSA so it will be easier to bring in the service
commanders.

"And they asked when the crowd was thickest; we told them: from three to
five in the afternoon. So they agreed to come to EDSA at around that time.
But while hiding in their safe house, they got reports that General Calimlim
could not be located and their first thought was: "He's out looking for us!"
So they decided to rush to EDSA right away. When they got there, why
there too at the Shrine was Calimlim! He had been looking for them all
right, but to join them, not to arrest them!

"Our group there was a back-up strike force. In fact, it was our group that
won over to our side the PNP first. If [Philippine National Police Chief]
Panfilo Lacson had resisted, he and his men would have been repelled:
there would have been bloodshed, but not on EDSA. In every place where
The Conspiracy of EDSA 2 4

Erap loyalists had a force, we had a counter-force to face it, with orders to
shoot. And not only in Metro Manila. Carillo had already been sent to the
provinces; and in Nueva Ecija, for instance, we had Rabosa. This was a
fight to the finish. That's why those five days that Erap was demanding
were so important. He was counting on counter-coups and baliktaran
[loyalty switch].

"I was negotiating with Pardon up to three o'clock in the morning: niloloko
lang pala kami [we were only being deceived]. But I told him point-blank:
"If by six o'clock this morning you haven't given us the resignation letter,
we will storm the gates of Malacañang!' But they insisted on more talk:
with De Villa up front, and my back channel debate with Pardo, which
even became a three-way contest, with Buboy Virata pitching in.

"But the threat to march to Malacañang was for real. And so was the
danger of bloodshed. I wasn't telling Gloria everything: I didn't want her
alarmed. So she didn't know about the orders to shoot."

Mike Arroyo's unguarded revelations surprisingly lend practically indisputable
credence to Estrada's assessment of the Edsa 2 development. As it appeared in
the Feb. 11, 2001 issue of Time magazine, Estrada described Edsa 2 as not
actually a "People Power" uprising but rather, "swift justice indeed -- as in a
lynching. It repudiated the very essence of due process enshrined in the
constitution. Mob rule catapulted Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
to the presidency..." Estrada's belief that Edsa 2 "was hatched in the
boardrooms and gated villages of Metro Manila and backed by a text-
messaging generation" would unwittingly be corroborated by the better half of
the presidential usurper.

Why did Arroyo not wait for Estrada to finish his term ending 2004? Why did she
and her husband have to spend and buy 1.5 million anti-Estrada propaganda
material? Why did they have to spend so much on mass texting in order to attract
people to assemble in the streets of Edsa? There were stories that the text
brigade for Edsa 2 "People Power" was centralized. Did the Arroyos somehow
made arrangements with the Philippine mobile telecommunication providers
Smart and Globe? Why conspire with seditious politicians, influential civilians and
generals for the unconstitutional ouster of a democratically elected and largely
popular sitting president?

As the First Gentleman revealed himself in the interview by Joaquin, the masses
wanted her to be loyal to Estrada. Why did she go against the will of the
majority? The answer is simply because she was the ambitious character who
was next in the line of succession who decided to manipulate the situation into
the opportunity to 'inherit' Malacanang early enough, and without the prospect of
possible electoral defeat in May 2004. Coming from the mouth of the horse's
husband “... if we win here, she becomes President!".
The Conspiracy of EDSA 2 5

Cory, the Youth, Intellectual and Civil Society "Gullibles"--All Been Had

The Edsa II "People Power" coup d e’tat was hatched through the coalesced
leadership of elements of political opportunists galvanizing under then Vice-
President Arroyo, rebel military influenced by ex-President Fidel Ramos, Catholic
bishops led by Jaime Cardinal Sin, and Philippine leftists such as former
communist rebel Satur Ocampo. Undoubtedly, there were other groups behind
the unconstitutional "fiesta" mob rule of the 2001 Edsa. There were the influential
business elites, of course, and as well, the Protestant Jesus is Lord Movement
by Bro. Eddie Villanueva. These groups could be said to be the plotters, each of
which falls into the category of either being devious, vengeful, or well-meaning
but misguided. Estrada was, after all, far from perfect. It was easy for those with
poor democratic values to seek the Machiavellian way out of a President who
acted like, and preferred to identify himself with the masses, perhaps much too
much.

On the other, there were the truly idealistic elements who only sought better
governance for the Philippines. Former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino,
acknowledged to be more of a moral force than a politician, by the civil society in
particular, had of course been actively campaigning for Erap's resignation. But
there were also the youth and the intellectuals. The youth, mostly prodded by the
officials from their Catholic schools, and college students, influenced by their
professors or student organizations, were very much part of Edsa II. These
groups believed in using pure "People Power," enshrined in the Constitution, as
vehicle for a change in government.

The views of these elements were perhaps best summed up by the University of
the Philippines professor Clarita Carlos: during the TV broadcast coverage of the
four days of the Edsa 2, she urged the Philippine military "Huwag na kayong
makialam pa" ["Don't intervene anymore"]. The UP political scientist, along
with the rest of the idealistic components, genuinely believed that the Estrada
government could be removed by sheer force of an unadulterated "People
Power" movement. Alas, unknown to them were the schemes of the Arroyos and
conspiring elements, not to change the government for the better, but to grab
power from a President not to their taste and plans. As would later be unraveled
by the Mike Arroyo interview and other accounts, the youth and the
academic/intellectual community simply served to be gullible pawns in the power
grab conspiracy of a fallacious Edsa.

Karma and Fallacy of the Power Grab

Today, in the midst of the increasing pressure for her resignation, Gloria Arroyo,
through her elite-educated friends, has the gall to tell Filipinos to wait? Apart from
her vile and illegitimate ascent to the presidency, Filipinos have all the right
The Conspiracy of EDSA 2 6

reasons to have her evicted. Why so? Gloria Arroyo is `not doing well.' Well, at
least not, in terms of her administration of the country.

For one, a seemingly endless litany of corruption issues that virtually began on
day one of her extra-constitutional ascent to power has led to her earning the
humiliating title of "Most Corrupt" Philippine President, based on a 2007 national
survey study. Recently, she bagged the moniker "evil" following the Senate
investigation on the anomalous NBN-ZTE contract. Her record on human rights
has been so alarming that even the European Union got concerned. Even
independent, foreign entities have found the poor, if not dismal, state of the
Southeast Asian nation under her regime. The latest of these is the Bertelsmann
Foundation study that perhaps best reveals the general picture of the obtaining
state of the Philippines under Gloria Arroyo. The Bertelsmann Foundation
Transformation Index points to how the country has fallen in global ranking to 51
from 41 registered two years ago. “The study also bares how:

(President) Arroyo took advantage of a range of undemocratic methods,
critical media and utilizing government tools to secure the support of
parliament. The murder of opponents, a dramatically high level of violence
against journalists and repeated attempts to instrumentalize constitutional
controls also represent deficiencies in democratic development.”

Amidst the persisting NBN-ZTE scandal—the latest in a seemingly endless litany
of corruption exposes against Arroyo—the Philippines is now faced with the
spectacle of yet another change of leadership, as elements of the influential
Catholic Church, big business and high-end civil society has staged various
protest activities directed against the current occupant of Malacanang, the very
President they illegitimately installed back in 2001. As eastern wisdom says 'the
karmic cup may be slow to fill, but fill it will.' It has been seven long years since
hers and Mike Arroyo's conjugal greed hijacked the Philippine presidency, but
their karmic cup of evil lies and fraud and rapacious greed is nearly full and ready
to pour hard on them. Karmic, ironic, pathetic.
The Conspiracy of EDSA 2 7

Sources:

Bowring, Philip. "Filipino Democracy Needs Stronger Institutions." International
Herald Tribune. 22 Jan. 2001. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2008, from
http://www.iht.com/articles/2001/01/22/edbow.t_3.php.

Estrada, Joseph. (11 Feb. 2001). "If This Can Be Done to Me, Who is Safe?"
Time. Retrieved from Feb. 25, 2008, http://www.time.com/time/world/
article/0,8599,99007,00.htm.

Lozada, Chito. “RP stagnating economically, socially, says German study.” The
Daily Tribune. 19 Feb. 2008. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2008, from
http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20080219hed3.html.

Mydans, Seth. "Expecting Praise, Filipinos Are Criticized for Ouster." The New
York Times. 5 Feb. 2001. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2008, from
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/05/world/05FILI.html?ex=1204174800&e
n=835b6565116a0dd1&ei=5070.

Power Grab from President Joseph Estrada. Movie. Retrieved Feb. 25,
2008, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh9bECSgfqk.

Singapore's Lee: Philippine Change No Boost For Democracy. The Straits
Times. 23 January 2001. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2008, from Yahoo! Geocities:
http://www.geocities.com/benign0/agr-disagr/12-2-lky.html.

Tordesillas, Ellen. "Credit should go to Mike Arroyo". Malaya. 16 Jan. 2002.
Retrieved Feb. 25, 2008, from http://malaya.com.ph/jan16/edtorde.htm.