The Book of the Week is “The Four Days of Courage, The Untold Story of the People Who Brought Marcos Down” by Bryan Johnson, published in 1987.
The story had yet to be told by anyone because “We [journalists] each published one version or another [of the story of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ removal], many of them tremendously exciting– and none of them came even close to the truth.”
The author, a Canadian journalist– admitted to writing a news article with a lie; describing it he wrote, “… the world swallowed another fairy tale about the remarkably bloodless revolt and humanitarian ‘reluctance’ of ‘President’ Marcos to use force.”
And now, a short interlude that helps explain why Reagan was one of the most popular presidents in American history.
It’s interesting to note what recent presidents have become known for, through the opposition’s propaganda:
BILL CLINTON: Playing golf; Keeping his brother Roger out of trouble, and having an extramarital affair on company time. Wait. How did he have time to play golf?
GEORGE W. BUSH: Playing golf; Shaking hands with his oil-industry friends, and mispronouncing words. How did he have time to play golf?
BARACK OBAMA: Playing golf; Palling around with terrorists, and taking selfies. How did he have time to play golf?
DONALD TRUMP: Playing golf; Tweeting, and guzzling diet soda. How the hell did he have time to play golf?
RONALD REAGAN: Taking naps while having his enablers rewrite history. He didn’t need to play golf to get popular.
To be fair, Reagan was fortunate to have a world full of dictators to be ousted and Commies to be fought. More recent presidents have had a harder time in trying to behave heroically.
Anyway, here’s a sample of Reagan’s enablers’ handiwork:
The American defense secretary told the press that the Pentagon had helped the Philippine rebels (not true) and the American secretary of state had praise for Marcos’ maturity in peacefully relinquishing his presidency after so long.
In 1965, soon-to-be brutal dictator Ferdinand Marcos came to power in the Philippines. He stopped at nothing to stay in power. That is how he continued his tyrannical rule over the Philippines for twenty years. In September 1972, he declared martial law because he could. In 1983, he maintained his power by having a political rival, Benigno Aquino, assassinated.
Starting in the mid-1980’s when Marcos again sensed he was losing his authority, he launched a propaganda campaign that described an elaborate plot to remove him from office. Two military officers in particular, were secretly hand-picked by Marcos to stage an alleged uprising of his security detail. One of them began stockpiling weaponry for future use by the “rebels.”
In May 1985, Marcos had such a bad case of hubris syndrome, he held a meeting to confidently hear complaints from the rebels, who resented Marcos’ favoritism of his claques, flacks and sycophants. Marcos permitted himself– no one else– to talk for 45 minutes, and ended the meeting. It was then that an officer got Marcos’ attention, but only to ask him to inscribe books Marcos had written on Filipino ideology. Marcos was only too happy to do so.
By November 1985, Marcos was pressured into the public relations stunt of calling for an election to be held in early 1986. He committed every form of election crime imaginable against his opponent, the widow of the aforementioned rival– Corazon Aquino. He still lost the election. It turned out that dissatisfaction of the Marcos regime was truly reaching critical mass in the military, and had already done so among Filipino civilians.
One major factor that led to the minimal bloodshed during Marcos’ ouster (only sixteen deaths) was the religion of the population: 90% Catholic. The dictator controlled the Church by allowing Catholic businesses to make megabucks, awarding them contracts such as those that provided chain retail outlets at airports. But the vast majority of Catholic ministers had become anti-Marcos. They publicized an urgent appeal to remove Marcos in a non-violent manner.
Another factor was that the Philippine economy was in shambles, and the United States was the nation’s sugar daddy. United States President Ronald Reagan wanted Marcos to stay in power because Marcos was the devil he knew, and could count on, not to let the Philippines fall to Communism (not that it would’ve anyway, even absent untold amounts of financial aid that was used to support the Marcos family’s lavish lifestyle).
For, America had two military bases on the Philippine islands. It had wiretapped the phones at the American embassy. If Marcos ever strayed to the Soviets, America’s hegemony would see it through nonetheless.
In the fourth week of February, 1986, Marcos ordered that tanks roll into the heart of Manila to show everyone who was boss. At the peak of the protests– nuns, housewives, schoolkids, true activists and other angry people filled the streets to dare the tanks to run them over.
Reagan appealed to Marcos to tell his marines to refrain from shooting at the protestors with efficient, advanced weaponry, or else he would get no more military support from the Americans.
Along with that reason, there might have been various other reasons why the approximately 960 soldiers dispensed with an actual show of force: “…pity, conscience, tactical considerations, the courage of a million Filipinos, the cool-headedness of General Tadiar, the clever psychological ploys of the Enrile-Ramos camp, the intelligence reports of the Sikorskys up above…” or that the Blessed Virgin Mary halted the tanks.
In September 1986, Corazon Aquino gave a speech to the UN General Assembly criticizing the UN for failing to help Third World nations depose brutal dictators. In the initial months of her presidency, she took steps to make the Philippines a democracy, by restoring freedom of the press and draining the swamp in government agencies.
Read the book to learn the details of the various interactions of the whole cast of characters involved in this suspenseful four-day drama, during which: the Marcos family’s expenses and protection (via aerial means) of Manila’s embattled neighborhoods were paid for by American taxpayers, and curious things happened, such as on inauguration day: “Soon there would be two presidents, two chiefs of staff– but still only one First Lady…” and the joke going around was “At least Cory [Aquino] doesn’t have a First Lady.”