For the record

“If by six o’clock this morning you haven’t given us the resignation letter, we will storm the gates of Malacañang!’—Mike Arroyo, husband of Gloria Macapagal, to President Joseph Estrada’s Cabinet secretary

Reacting to Gov. Chavit Singson’s allegation that Gloria Arroyo used him and others to oust President Joseph Estrada, Gloria’s horn blower, Mrs. Elena Bautista-Horn, said, “[Arroyo] did not seek the presidency in Edsa 2. It was, in fact, only thrust upon her by virtue of the legal and natural constitutional succession.”

I don’t have to straighten Mrs. Horn’s trumpet. Billy Esposo and the Arroyo couple can do that for me.

Here are excerpts from Billy Esposo’s June 16, 2006, column for the Inquirer:

“IT’S TRUE—the Council on Philippine Affairs (Copa), which I was a member of and chaired until November 2003, hosted a dinner to celebrate Edsa People Power II at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in February 2001. It is also true that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a speaker at that affair and narrated her several meetings with military and police officers to encourage them to withdraw support for the Estrada regime.

“Ten days before she assumed the presidency, we in Copa met with Arroyo—at her request—on January 11, 2001. Things were coming to a head and Arroyo was bothered by the ‘Resign all’ clamor of most of the players of Edsa People Power II.

“Gloria asked for that January 11, 2001, meeting to try to mend fences and win over the ‘Resign all’ advocates….Gloria was accompanied to the meeting by her brother Buboy Macapagal, someone Copa could be comfortable with, and her best friend (and also my wife’s cousin) Cynthia Carrion.

“After the usual pleasantries, I lost no time putting across to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the Copa position. She was seated across the table from me, in the middle of a long table. Eyeball to eyeball, I told her that we could not take it in our hearts to support her.

“To make a long story short, the only agreements reached that night were that we would go our separate ways insofar as who would lead the country after Estrada and that we in Copa would continue to clamor for Estrada to resign.”

A portion of the narration mentioned by Esposo is posted on YouTube:

Here’s my transcript of that video:

“…Maybe I should tell my own version of some of the untold stories with regard to the military. And now that it can be told…I think I should mention who they are, that group that I was meeting with since January was made up of Gen. Larry Mendoza and Col (??) Garcia and retired Gen. Rios [applause] Art Carillo and he’s right there, [applause] Gen. Espinosa, whom everybody knows is my dear friend [applause] and ‘Spine’ is there, too, Gen. Braganza and actually ‘Boysie’ is another friend of mine….”

And here’s Mike Arroyo, Gloria’s husband, confessing to Nick Joaquin of Philippines Graphic magazine, March 5, 2001:

“She had really left the Cabinet at the right moment: the timing was perfect…. 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.

“There was a time, honestly, when I felt I erred in advising her to resign from the Cabinet…. And when she started attacking him, everything fell on us—grabe!—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.

“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….

“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….

“Our group, there was a backup strike force…. In every place where Erap loyalists had a force, we had a counterforce 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….

“I was negotiating with Pardo up to three o’clock in the morning: niloloko lang pala kami. 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!’”

And that, for the record, is the true story of Gloria Arroyo’s ascent to power, an event that Mrs. Horn claims happened “by virtue of the legal and natural constitutional succession.”

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • Bert

    “We don’t want a Binay doing an Arroyo on Noynoy.”-UP n

    Yeah, right again, UP n.

    But then again, maybe an Arroyo might just be an exception rather than the rule,who knows. Human by nature, as you might well know, is inherently good, the inherent badness/ambition most normally capped in a certain controlled boundary, usually dictated by conscience tolerance.

    And,Charter Change has nothing to do with tolerance of conscience, ‘di ba?

    • Bert

      or, for that matter, party affiliation, ‘di ba?

  • UP nn grad

    Amazing story, isn’t it? It should not happen again to Pilipinas. Pilipinas needs a charter-change so that the Vice-president and President should come from the same party. We don’t want a Binay doing an Arroyo on Noynoy.

    • coming from the same party is not a safeguard against blind ambition.

  • Best described as “coup d’tat”