Editorial: FVR

Holed up in military headquarters Camp Aguinaldo on Feb. 22, 1986 were Deputy Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. The two officials held a press conference and announced that they had broken ties with President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., whom they accused of committing electoral fraud that year to stay in Malacañang.Ramos, popularly known as FVR, said this of his second cousin Marcos: “I think the President of 1986 is not the same President that we used to know before to whom we pledged our loyalty and to whom we dedicated our service.”“But, it is clear that he no longer is the able and capable Commander-in-Chief that we count upon because he has put his personal interest—his family interest,” he said.Ramos then urged the “people-oriented members” of the armed forces and the Integrated National Police to join them in their “crusade for better government.” However, he encouraged the uniformed personnel to “avoid any bloodshed; to maintain calm, be able to influence the people’s power in our country.” What followed was history. Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin went on air at Radio Veritas, and his plea to the people was heeded—they went out and formed a human barricade around the building where Ramos, Enrile and their troops were staying. This started the People Power Revolution, which eventually ended the Marcos dictatorship on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1986, sending the whole family, including the young Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., into exile.Now, what if Ramos and Enrile had stayed loyal to Marcos? It could have been a different story. The dictatorship could have lasted longer; if it did happen, it would still end at some point.The peaceful revolution catapulted Corazon Aquino, the widow of senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., to the presidency. It later produced the 1987 Freedom Constitution, which ensures democracy and the freedom of the people. Five years after the Constitution’s ratification, the first post-dictatorship elections were held, and Ramos won the presidency. During his term, he effected socioeconomic changes under his program Philippines 2000.That announcement of defection on Feb. 22, 1986 spawned historic changes. FVR and company did help in ousting one of the brutal dictatorships in Asia, and it is a fact that must not be forgotten or passed on as mere gossip.FVR passed away on Sunday, July 31, 2022 at the ripe age of 94, when Philippine democracy is still a work in progress.Filipinos, to borrow the late president’s words, must continue the “crusade for better government” and they must fight for their freedoms if these come under threat from internal and external forces.