The Third Republic part 2
Wrote this short story in 2005 during the height of the Hello Garci Scandal. A fictionalized account of a coup d' etat gone wrong. It was published in Dagmay, a weekly literary page in Sunstar Davao.
“The last President”
The General ducked low to avoid the rotors of the Huey. He walked briskly to the Palace towards the Heroes hall. The once immaculate mansion has resembled into a chaotic City hall. Accompanied by Special Forces units of the Philippine Defense Forces, the General rudely interrupted the heated discussions of the National Democratic Council.
“It is already 8 p.m. and they are still bickering. The General said to himself. As he entered the debate stopped into a hush. The hall froze as they saw the General in full-battle gear, together with his special forces who appeared more equipped than the junta soldiers stationed at the palace. The General then took to the podium, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have lost Visayas and… Mindanao.” the General thundered, his eyes piercing towards the Junta’s Mindanao delegates.
Cloaked with full dictatorial powers the General first act was to allocate about thirty billion pesos to buy surplus Russian military hardware to replenish and beefed up the junta’s armed forces. The General had still dreamt of conquering Mindanao.
“I’ve never expected this to happen. We thought we’d end up as heroes… but now the situation’s becoming worse” The Junta major told the Mayor as they stood on an empty departure lounge of the Davao International Airport. The major was in command of a battalion of Junta soldiers controlling the Davao airport.
“The air force of the junta is crippled, don’t expect any more C-130s, you are already isolated, pretty soon your supplies here will run out. But its not too late, you can walk out of here safely, I assure you.” The Mayor spoke to the officer; he had high respect for the Junta officer, whom he had known as an idealistic, well-disciplined army major before the turmoil.
“There are no enemies, only lost brothers,” the Mayor has told his AFRM units as he restrained them from attacking the Junta positions at the airport.
Inside the luxurious suite of a high-rise hotel in Davao City, the President of the Mindanao Republic met with the emissary from the Visayas Republic.
“I would like to thank your government for foiling the Junta’s attack.” The Mindanao Republic is entirely grateful to the Government of the Visayan Republic.” The Mindanao President said to the Visayan emissary.
“We had a common enemy; we want to avoid further bloodshed.” The emissary replied while curiously looking at the Mindanao passport issued to him.
“After this war is over, I am inviting the President of Visayas to come over here for a State Visit. We should institute full diplomatic relations with you immediately.” The President said.
“But Mr. President is this for real? Are you really going all the way?” the emissary queried. “What is for real?” the President replied.
“This Republic of yours, are you going to pursue it?” the emissary said in reply.
“Yes, of course, this is our dream; our long-cherished dream of an independent Mindanao, the time has presented an opportunity for us to pursue our destiny. Why are you asking the question?” The President asked, a bit puzzled by the emissary’s query.
The United States will be moving in soon to restore the government. The 7th fleet is coming. It will not be long, when these Junta bastards will be ousted.”
When the old Government will come back, Mindanao shall be no longer part of it. The President emphatically told his guest. “What will happen to the Visayan Republic?”
“The situation now called for it, it is a way to frustrate the Junta, to declare separate republics to prevent them from consolidating power but we don’t intend to remain an independent country forever, it’s too complicated, we are just waiting for things to normalize. It won’t be long,” said the emissary.
The emissary’s words sounded a foreboding omen to the Mindanao President.
The fighter pilot viewed the distant hazy polluted skies of Manila, it was 0730 hours about 10 minutes since he was scrambled from Villamor, he was ordered to meet the intruders coming from the skies, the intruders were US F/A-18 fighters taking off from a carrier battle group off South China Sea. And he had to engage them with his aging F-5A fighter.
The pilot and his jet was no match for those superior warplanes, he was sure he has already been locked in their advanced radars. A minute passed, the F-5A banked to the left and headed towards Clark Field to land. The pilot didn’t want to die fighting an unequal war.
Three hours after the junta lost the battle of the skies, the regime of the Democratic Nationalist Movement was a foregone conclusion.
In a posh resort off Samal Island the group which now are the high-ranking officials of the Mindanao Republic had met to discuss the future of the new nation. United States Marines have landed in Manila without encountering any resistance as the General have disappeared and gone into hiding leaving a crumbled Junta. A caretaker council has been formed to prepare for the eventual return of the exiled leaders.
The group had received feelers from the exiled government about its eventual return. Although many were happy that the crisis ended, others had been worried about the future of the Mindanao Republic, many wanted to keep the flames of independence, while others wanted its dissolution and a return to the old Filipino Republic.
The group had decided to take the matters into voting, the fate of the republic will be known by the weight of their votes, The Samal caucus was an impassioned gathering that dwelt unto the night then lasted to the following morning.
And soon, out of the fifteen members of the Group, fourteen had cast their votes, seven favored independence while an equal number favored re-integration. The last one still to cast his vote was the Mayor.
“His vote will determine the future of Mindanao” the President said, anxiously waiting for the Mayor to announce his stand. “What will your vote be?” asked the Secretary of Public Works.
“This is your chance, to chart our own destiny…to correct injustice, to correct apathy that we have long suffered.” words bellowed from the President that sounded more like a plea to earn his vote.
“Yes, Mr. President I believed that we as Mindanaoans have suffered so much injustice and neglect from the past. I believed that this is the time to decide on our own destiny.” The Mayor said.
“The vote that you will cast will decide the path that we will take.” The President said.
“I’ve always believed that I am a Filipino as much as I am a Mindanaoan and in our darkest hours we saw how much we can destroy ourselves, but it also shows how much we can achieve if we remain united. This crisis was never meant to break us apart into separate Republics but made us to realize that we can stand up on our own and navigate our fate as an equal part of this Filipino nation and with this I vote for re-integration to the Republic of the Philippines.” This mayor said as he cast his vote.
Finally the fate of the Republic was decided. Its end was sealed in a single vote. The defeat of the Mindanao Republic was accepted by the Mindanao President together with those who voted for independence.
“My brothers and sisters, we have chosen the outcome of our Mindanao nation, with a very heavy heart I accept the votes as our collective decision, this I believe is the essence of democracy, the foundation of every freedom-loving nation. In my younger days, I would have marched off to war to fight for the principles that I have voted for today, But I am an old man now, and Mindanao has suffered for too long from the many wars we have fought…. I thank you for making me the first President of the Mindanao Republic, but please allow the request of this old man, that he will not be its last leader”
The President had resigned from his post followed by half of the pro-independence cabinet. By the following day after the fateful voting the group had chosen and persuaded the Mayor to be the last President of the Mindanao Republic.