25th YEAR CELEBRATION / FRED LIM IN EDSA - BY NICK JOAQIN IN 2 PARTS
[PHOTO- Sharing honors during the ribbon-cutting for ‘The Inaugural’ exhibit at SM City North Edsa are Vice President Jejomar Binay and Viel Aquino-Dee together with SCMC president Annie Garcia and SCMC VP for operations Steven Tan. Also in photo are (from left) Pastor Saycon, SM VP for marketing communications Millie Dizon, PCOO Secretary Herminio Coloma, SCMC regional operations manager Renee Bacani and book publisher Maria Montelibano.]
MANILA, FEBRUARY 23, 2011 (STAR) 'The Inaugural Exhibit' highlights EDSA's 25th year celebration Mallgoers will have the opportunity to be part of history and re-live the spirit of the EDSA Revolution as “The Inaugural Exhibit” makes a tour of the SM malls beginning this month. The exhibit, based on the book published by President Aquino’s campaign media bureau head Maria Montelibano, was launched last Feb. 17 at The Block at SM City North EDSA as part of the EDSA 25th Anniversary celebrations.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and Viel Aquino-Dee were the guests of honor in the event attended by government officials, People Power Commission members, as well as friends and relatives of the Aquino family.
The event was highlighted by musical performances by Ryan Cayabyab and the RC singers, as well as a shower of yellow confetti, reminiscent of the ones in Makati. Guests then signed their messages on the board, and took part in the book signing activities.
The Inaugural chronicles the campaign of President Aquino, through images by senior photojournalists and accounts written by participants of the unusual, volunteer-powered campaign that brought him to the presidency.
The passage of an anti-autocratic mission from father to son – immortalized, as it were, in a private letter by Benigno Jr. to his barely teenage son about the struggle – was palpable to the latter’s inauguration. Benigno III as well had been handed the cause of the Philippines’ beloved President Cory to rebuild the nation’s democratic institutions.
Benigno III, like his mother, was drafted by popular will, was installed as President by the re-emergence of citizen action that re-shaped conventional political operations. The photographs and accounts in the book are witness to the making of a president by the phenomenon the world has come to understand as People Power.
Montelibano produced this book on his inauguration from a personal journey. Her work as a television and stage director and producer that began in the 1970s helped open the field of television communications to women. Coming from a family that was entwined with the history of the country, she was among the key participants of the first phenomenal expression of people power. She was later drawn into public service by President Cory, who appointed her head of the radio and television infrastructure of the government center.
After the North EDSA run in February, the exhibit will also be showcased at SM Megamall from March 1-6; SM City Cebu on March 18 to 27; SM City Tarlac on April 1 to 10; SM City Naga on April 15 to 20; SM City Baguio on May 3 to 9; SM City Bacolod on May 13 to 22; SM City Davao on May 30 to June 5; and the SM Mall of Asia on June 9 to 15.
Fred Lim at EDSA: By Nick Joaquin (Noted Filipino biographer, photo at right) (The Philippine Star) Updated February 22, 2011 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - It was part of his turf as superintendent of the Northern Police District and so General Edo Lim knew of the crisis on EDSA from the start. Early evening of Saturday Feb. 22, 1986, people were gathering to block the stretch of highway between Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame.
What few knew is that EDSA could have been stopped right away had the orders of dictator Marcos been obeyed. But these dictates were very nimbly sidestepped by his own soldiers and police who dodged the command to disperse the EDSA crowd. This queers the claim that Ferdinand Marcos never issued such orders.
Edo Lim knows the untold story of the inside job since he was there and could have changed the course of history during the first two fateful days of the EDSA Revolution.
“I was in my office at headquarters, Camp Sikatuna, that Saturday afternoon, watching the unfolding event on television when General Olivas, Metrocom commander, rang me up and asked if I knew what was going on. I said yes and he told me to mobilize all my officers and men of the Northern Police District and wait for further orders. So I bade my chiefs and men of Quezon City, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela and San Juan, to assemble all their available units at Sikatuna headquarters. About 800 came.”
Obviously their mission would be to sweep away the demos on EDSA, restore the highway to traffic , and thus open up the two army camps there where the rebels had holed up. But General Lim managed to while away the night without moving on EDSA. For one thing, the leader of the rebels –Minister Juan Ponce Enrile of Defense and General Fidel Ramos of the PC/INP – were Lim’s immediate bosses. And there was Cardinal Sin on Radio Veritas appealing to the people to help Enrile and Ramos and their men. Lim decided to heed the call of his eminence.
Had his sympathies, being elsewhere, impelled to clear the highway that twilight, the EDSA revolution would have died a borning. But he took a stand that was a steal.
“We were monitoring developments at EDSA and had learned that at about 10 p.m. Butch Aquino and his ATOM boys had marched from Cubao to join the EDSA crowds. Then, at daybreak of Sunday, the Butch Aquino group retired after an all-night vigil on EDSA. The crowd left on the highway was less than a thousand by then.”
Lim then sent at about 8 a.m. Sunday the Quezon City police chief, Colonel Dawis, to contact Butch Aquino on EDSA, where, of course Butch Aquino no longer was. But Malacañang would think that Lim was on the job.
“I had stressed to General Dawis that there was to be no police dispersal action in EDSA unless I gave the order.”
Alas, that Sunday morning, Feb. 23, Lim received specific orders on EDSA, relayed from the army commander himself, General Josephus Ramas, through Colonel Javier. And the specific orders were: clear EDSA at once!
Since Edo Lim was of two minds about these orders, he had to play possum all Sunday morning, to escape obeying orders that were undoubtedly right from Malacañang.
“There were frequent calls to my office from the office of General Ver, asking about my whereabouts, but I had instructed my staff not to tell where I was and to say only that I was on patrol. Actually, I was at the necrological services for Major Luna, one of my officers, who had died of a heart attack. But the calls from General Ver through his officers became so persistent – they were all searching for me! – that finally, towards noon or about eleven o’clock, I went to EDSA.”
Lim made his appearance at the P. Tuason corner of the highway.
“I met with Colonel Dawis and he told me that General Ramos had sent CDC troops (the army’s crowd-control unit) under the command of Colonel Javier. I went to see Colonel Javier and he told me his orders were to contact me and await instructions from me. I said to him: ‘Okey, just stay put.’ There were about 250 of them, equipped with batons and shields. They bivouacked at the EDSA Tuason corner. Three doors away was the Laguna Antique Shop, where I set up my command post.”
By Sunday noon the EDSA crowd had increased to 5,000, a still manageable mass. Lim could have cleared the highway without sweat, blood or tears. But he ordered neither his men nor the CDC troops to start sweeping. Then, after Cardinal Sin had gone on the air, the highway really filled up. From a distance, Lim saw people hurrying in like ants.
“The Cardinal’s appeal to the people to rush to EDSA and defend Ramos and Enrile was replayed several times over the radio and the people really came rushing! I again urged Colonel Dawis to contact Butch Aquino but Butch Aquino could not be located.”
At 2:45 p.m. Lim was notified by Quezon City mobile police that he was urgently being ordered to call the Study Room in Malacañang. Lim rang up the Study Room, which is the President’s office, and was presently listening to the vexed voice of Ferdinand Marcos, the President, the commander-in-chief.
“General Lim, what’s happening out there?”
“Mr. President, there are many people converging on EDSA, between Crame and Aquinaldo.”
“Then you tell them to go home because we are going to shell Crame. Tell them to disperse so they won’t get hurt. We are sending in tanks, mortars, and artillery. So be sure to disperse them at all cost!”
“Yes, sir, Mr. President.”
But what Lim did was to ring up the office of General Olivas, his superior. The one who answered was Colonel Mitch Templo, who said that Olivas was sleeping.
“Well, wake him up!” yelled Lim. “This is urgent. I have orders from President Marcos to disperse the crowds on EDSA and I want to refer the matter to General Olivas.”
Colonel Mitch Templo said he would call back. But when Templo called back, it was to say that General Olivas had been sedated, and could not be disturbed on doctor’s orders. The implication was that Olivas was ill; might have suffered a slight heart attack.
Nevertheless, Lim felt himself in a quandary. What would he do next? Then the phone rang again. “This time it was Colonel Alex Aquirre, a classmate of mine at the National Defense College, and he said he was in Camp Crame with General Ramos, and to hold my line because Ramos wanted to talk to me. While I was waiting, into the Lagman Antique Shop strode Butch Aquino. He said: ‘General, in other days you were chasing us. Today we are protecting the soldiers at Crame.’ I said to him: ‘Good, but wait!’ So Butch stayed at the doorway while I talked with General Ramos.”
This talk on the telephone was one of the most crucial moments at EDSA – because Edo Lim already knew positively what he wanted to do. And this came about through coolness and tact displayed by Fidel Ramos.
The conversation went like this:
“Fred, what are your orders?”
“My orders, sir, are to disperse the crowds at EDSA at all cost.”
“Fred, if there’s a dispersal, we will be wiped out here. I have with me Minister Enrile, Former Chiefs of Staff Espino and Vargas, Assemblyman Cayetano, among many others. Our only weapons are M-16s and M-14s which are ineffective against artillery, tanks and mortars. I hear there is an army CDC group there and they are armed with heavy weapons.”
“No sir, I talked with Colonel Javier and he told me that their only equipment are riot batons and shields.”
“You check. Their weapons are hidden in their six-by-six trucks. Anyway, Fred, bahala ka na.”
That was what won Edo Lim. Ramos did not simply order: “Do not disperse!” He was tactful enough to leave the deciding to the police superintendent. Bahala ka na. And Lim at that moment knew where he stood.
Still he felt his head expanding.
“I felt I was sitting on a volcano.” And then there came Butch Aquino asking: “Are you going to disperse us?”
“No,” replied Lim, “but you, Cardinal Sin and the rebels should talk to President Marcos and see if this matter can be settled peacefully. I promise.”
“Gentleman’s agreement?” pressed Butch Aquino.
“Usapang lalaki,” agreed Lim, rising to shake hands with Butch Aquino, who hurried out to inform his waiting companions: “No dispersal, I ready talked to General Lim.” With relief, everybody applauded.
At five p.m. Lim was notified that Malacañang was looking for him. He rang up the Study Room – and here again was the Marcos voice, rather furious.
“General, you failed me!” And the strongman demanded to know why there was no dispersal action as of the moment.
“Mr. President, it is physically impossible to conduct dispersal operations.”
“Why? Why?” Mr. Marcos demanded.
“Because there are 35,000 to 40,000 people on EDSA and I have only 126 men with me.”
(These 126 men under Colonel Dawis were the only ones that Lim had ordered to be with him. The rest of his police officers and men – the majority – he had deliberately left behind in Camp Sikatuna.)
“All right, listen,” said Mr. Marcos, “I will send you additional reinforcement: two more army battalions – but be sure to disperse at all costs! Tell the crowd to go home – that Crame is going to be shelled.”
“Yes, sir, Mr. President.” But to himself was exclaiming: Patay na!
He could only pray to be delivered from this dilemma, from this highway called EDSA. And like an answer came a call from his compadre, General Victor Natividad, who had just been appointed PC Chief, in lieu of Fidel Ramos. (General Olivas, the first choice, could not be located and was still said to be ill or something.) General Natividad had rung up Lim to join him at the Meralco compound in Ortigas, and bring along the army CDC group.
“Yes, sir!” cried Lim in rapture. No more need to worry about what to do on EDSA!
“I ordered Colonel Javier to pack up and join us in Meralco. So we went to the Meralco compound in Ortigas and there we waited for General Natividad. And before us passed these tanks from the EDSA-Ortigas crossing and going towards Pasig. We didn’t know these were the tanks stopped by nuns and other brave spirits and had been forced to detour away from EDSA. This was toward six p.m.”
Shortly after, his compadre General Natividad arrived. Lim presented himself, his police group, and the army CDC contingent. “Here we are General, reporting as ordered.”
“Yes, but where are tanks?”
“What tanks? Oh, we saw them passing just a while ago, on their way to Pasig.”
“Going to Pasig?” General Natividad looked horrified. “But why to Pasig?”
(These tanks were supposed to have thundered their way down EDSA to Crame and to have blasted their way into that rebel camp.)
The phone rang: it was First Lady Madame Imelda Marcos. She wanted to speak to the New PC chief. When General Natividad returned from the telephone conversation, Edo Lim seized that opportunity to get his men out this scene. It was eight p.m. He and his men had been duty since morning, had had no lunch, had had no rest. Couldn’t they be allowed to return to Camp Sikatuna for supper, a bath, and bit of rest, and Edo Lim returned to headquarters with his men.
That was Sunday night; to get back to Sikatuna they had to detour through Libis; EDSA had become impassable, barricaded by over 100,000 human blocks.
General Lim had done what he had to do: keep EDSA from being stopped; keep EDSA going.
PART 2 - CONCLUSION.......
Fred Lim at EDSA (Conclusion) By Nick Joaquin (The Philippine Star) Updated February 23, 2011 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - By Monday and Tuesday, EDSA had become a veritable human rampart – the Great Wall of Pinoy resistance: People Power!
But what was not known then is that it could have been aborted on the first two days of uprising. And what the other side didn’t know was that the foiled aborting was an “inside job” accomplished by its own G-men, headed by the police superintendent in charge of the EDSA area.
The inside job is the untold story of EDSA.
Edo Lim had to play such a sly game at EDSA (seeming ready to obey the orders to disperse the crowds there while making no move to do so) because he saw that EDSA could be saved only if he remained in command there.
“Had I betrayed myself to be on the side of the rebels, I would have been pulled out of EDSA and replaced with somebody really intent on clearing the highway. So I had to feign compliance when actually not complying at all. I had felt up and not down when President Marcos said on the phone that I failed him. But my cover was blown that Sunday night when General Ramos told the media on which side I stood. ‘General Lim has joined us,’ said Ramos told the newsmen, ‘he is supporting this revolt.’ The announcement appeared in Tempo on Monday morning.”
He had barely rested in his quarters at Sikatuna when he was ordered to meet with Gen. Victor Natividad at the corner of Boni Serrano and Katipunan Avenue at about six a.m. Monday, Feb. 24. The tanks that he and his men saw had been stopped by nuns praying the rosary and other brave souls. Now Lim learned they were to disperse the crowd. He went instead to the Quirino Labor Hospital. Then there was a series of gunfire, and the crowds were rushing towards the hospital where Lim was. He learned the teargas was thrown at the crowd to disperse them at Boni Serrano and Katipunan. He took his men to the place where he was met by Southern Police District commander General Escarcha.
Lim was told by Gen. Escarcha that they had been waiting for him at 6 in the morning, and because he was not around, he, Escarcha, was forced to disperse the crowd on orders of Gen. Natividad, who then arrived and asked Lim why he was not there that morning. Lim said he was at the Quirino Labor Hospital. He stayed at the command post at Logcom from 7 to 8 in the morning.
“I saw Col. Balbas, commander of the marine tanks, and Col. Barangan, Gen. Ver’s PSC deputy, who ordered Balbas to pre-position his tanks to blast at Crame. Balbas was giving orders and the tanks moved back and forth, moved right and left, like they were also dragging their chains, appearing to obey commands.
“Gen. Barangan called us to the Logcom building where he had his command post. Gen. Natividad was also ordered to be there. Gen. Barangan told us to proceed to Channel 4 because the security force there was being harassed by demonstrators and the trucks could not get out.
“I brought my 37 officers and men to Channel 4. Col. Dawis reported to me at the Country Chef restaurant that former LTO chief Col. Santiago Mariano was going to take Channel 4. Then Fr. Efren Datu of Veritas met me. He was with Col. Subia who saluted me and confirmed that Gen. Ramos had ordered them under Col. Mariano to take Channel 4.”
Lim and Col. Dawis agreed that since there was already an order from Gen. Ramos, they might as well return to Quezon City Police headquarters.
“Before noon of Monday, I was informed that Gen. Olivas had himself admitted at the Philippine Heart Center. I rushed to see him. He told me his blood pressure had shot up and he felt faint. I reported that I was ordered to disperse the crowd at Channel 4 but since there was already an order to Col. Mariano and his men to take Channel 4, we left them. Gen. Olivas seemed more concerned with his blood pressure.”
Then Lim got a radio message from Gen. Natividad ordering him to meet with him at his new command post, the Country Chef restaurant near Channel 4 where he was met by Gen. Escarcha, who said they have been looking for him all morning because he was to disperse the crowd at Channel 4. Escarcha had even caught a rebel with a carbine. Lim explained that he reported to Gen. Olivas at the Heart Center, that he could not possible disperse that large crowd.
Gen. Natividad arrived with Col. Ely Yorro, a godson and one of the military aides of the President. It was he, so Lim had learned, who had been trying to reach him and had even gone to Sikatuna with 12 soldiers in full battle gear. Now at the Country Chef he was not talking to Lim but kept looking at him. Lim thought: because I did not disperse the crowd when ordered.
Gen. Natividad now ordered that they retake Channel 4. He agreed to Lim’s suggestion that they first get the Channel 4 building plans in Quezon City. He sent one of his men to get the plans. Lim knew that the City Hall was closed, it would take a long time before the plans could be located and taken out, if ever.
While they were waiting, a Caloocan policemen whom Lim knew approached, saluted, told him that they already had taken Channel 4, adding that he was ordered by Col. Subia to report to him. Lim told the policeman to return to Channel 4 and they will talk later. The others, particularly Col. Yorro, could not have missed seeing that the policeman wore his Philippine flag patch upside down.
Gen. Natividad then was called to the phone. Lim suspected it was his brother, the late Assemblyman Teodulo Natividad, giving the General some advice.
The police officer sent to City Hall came back without the plans. It was late in the afternoon. Lim asked Gen. Natividad if he could go back to Sikatuna. Metrocom reinforcement from Bobby Ortega was coming from Bicutan, Gen. Natividad said. Lim’s suggestion that in the meantime they place a traffic officer was accepted. If Ortega came maybe they should send him back to Bicutan. They all left the place.
Back at his Sikatuna office, Lim got a call from Mitch Templo, telling him “Gen. Ramos said to tell you, Sir, that a reinforcement from Lipa Air Base was coming. Gen. Ramos requests that you allow them to bivouac at Sikatuna.”
Lim readily consented. It was already published in Tempo that Lim had joined the rebel forces. Lim took a nap. He was waiting for the Lipa Air Base rebels. But they did not come.
His sympathies already unmasked, he decided to strip to the altogether the following morning.
“On Tuesday, I assembled my officers and the police chiefs of the four towns and two cities under my command. ‘This is the hour of truth,’ I said to them, ‘and I want your honest opinion on my stand.’ Some voices yelled: ‘If it’s your stand, we support you.’ I bade them remember that they were involving not only themselves but also their families, since this was the nation’s total rebellion. And they chorused: ‘We and our families go, General, where you go!’ I thanked them for their trust in me. ‘And now,’ I continued, ‘here is my decision: to go to Camp Crame and present myself to Gen. Ramos. Those of you who are willing, follow me. Those who don’t want to are free to go where they please – and no hurt feelings.’ This was about 2 p.m. of Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1986, and of the over 40 officers present only two voices were raised in opposition.”
Then he called Gen. Cabrera and Yson informing them he was already taking his men inside Camp Crame at six o’clock.
When General Alfredo Lim entered Camp Crame at six o’clock that evening he was accompanied by all his men, including the two lone oppositors. Also joining the grand entrance (Lim had asked that the Metrocom gate on Boni Serrano be opened to admit them) were commander Cabrera of the Western Police District, and Commander Yson of the Eastern Police District, with their respective aides.
The police assemblage proceeded to headquarters, where Lim was amused, but not surprised, to find his boss, Gen. Olivas (with nary a sign of illness), and his aide Mitch Templo. Those two had been playing possum through the weekend, to escape being ordered to attack Camp Crame.
Presently, Gen. Fidel Ramos came down to welcome his police allies. Said he to them: “Gentlemen, thank you for coming here and supporting us. But during one of the crisis moments last Sunday, when the order to disperse was given, I contacted Fred Lim. And without much ado, he evaded that dispersal order. Fred, thank you very much. And thanks again to all of you, gentlemen.”
Lim felt all eyes turned towards him: he had told no one of that telephone talk with Ramos.
“And I never told Ramos that, when he called, I was still wondering who was kalaban and who was kakampi.
“That assembly at Crame was about six o’clock of Tuesday night, Feb. 25, 1986. I was still in Crame three hours later when the news came that Ferdinand Marcos had been helicoptered out of Malacañang, on his way to exile. The rebellion was victorious! Cory Aquino was President! The next day, we police commanders were asked to submit reports on our actuations during EDSA. Afterwards it was announced that being retained at their posts were: General Cabrera as commander of Western Police District; General Yson as commander of the Eastern Police District; and myself as commander of the Northern Police District. When all those EDSA heroes started cropping out, I just kept quiet, but I couldn’t help wondering what would have happened if I had swept EDSA clean that Sunday as ordered.”
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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