THE LOYALISTS’ ATTACK ON CHANNEL FOUR (1986) AND ITS CAPTURE (2020)
After a whole night in EDSA on Sunday evening (February 23, 1986), we decided to go home because they said Marcos has fled. Ramos was already jumping at Camp Aguinaldo. We later knew it was a false alarm. On our way back to Quezon City, we passed by Channel 4 (now ABS-CBN) which was then liberated from the Marcos government, and with a skeleton force, was starting to serve as the command communication center of the EDSA revolution. That morning (February 24), we saw these young military men with white arm bands strategizing a military attack outside the compounds of Channel 4 which was then occupied by the RAM forces. We later knew they were from a camp in Tanay and their mission was to recapture Channel 4 since it was occupied by the "rebels" as they were told. The white arm bands were signs that they were Marcos loyalists. They looked tired and hungry. They looked like they did not actually know what was going on.
We went down from our van, started to sing the "Ama Namin" with some residents of the place, and prayed the rosary. In the meantime, more people came to join. They brought food, flowers, pandesal, water, radios, etc. We started to talk with the Marcos loyalists and made them listen to Radio Veritas. We later became a large crowd. The women volunteered to give flowers; the seminarians began hugging the soldiers; we made them sit down and eat. The tension-filled atmosphere calmed down. The picture of the seminarian hugging the soldier, now Fr. Archelito Fernandez, was taken at Mother Ignacia Avenue at the side of Channel Four. The PAL later picked it up and made it into an icon of the revolution with the caption: "Now, everything's right here in the Philippines".We started to negotiate with Colonel Santiago and the RAM forces inside the Channel 4 compound who were then armed with tanks and high powered firearms, ready to attack. We pleaded with them not to proceed because the soldiers outside (Marcos loyalists) were just too tired. To our surprise, the military commanders listened to us. They went out of the compound without arms, and talked to the tired young men. It was tense at first but all sides listened: the Marcos loyalists, the RAM boys, the mothers, the fathers and all who were there. Everyone wanted to be of help. The firefight did not happen. The military men hugged and they agreed to go back to the barracks. People cheered and stayed to keep watch. More food came. Some residents opened their gates and shared food and water. Everyone had their fill. There was even a child who celebrated her birthday and shared her cake to everyone around. It looked like a celebration of a people who felt one again. But today, 34 years after, the same brand of loyalists from the same camp assaulted again, and ABS-CBN has fallen. They did not come from Tanay but were sent from the palace. Unlike those young tired men, these loyalists do not know how to listen, neither to reason nor to compassion. They were sent with an agenda: to ruthlessly capture it for a reason. And they succeeded. A sad day for democracy in this country. "Now, everything is WRONG here in the Philippines." We are back to square one. With age, I am a bit tired of marching down the streets again. But fight we must. Sugod!
Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, CM
St Vincent SchoolofTheology -