The Third Republic

Wrote this short story in 2005 during the height of the Hello Garci scandal. A fictionalized account of a coup d' etat that transformed a nation. It was published in Dagmay, a weekly literary page in Sunstar Davao.

The Coup (Part I)

June 23, 2005

It was 4 a.m., the Mayor was awakened by the musical ring tone from his Nokia mobile phone, the call was very urgent. Half an hour later his Toyota pick-up sped towards an address in an upscale subdivision in Buhangin where the Group was waiting for him to relay the shocking news.  

The Junta has taken over Malacañang Palace in a daring lightning assault. The President in a twist of luck decided to spend that fateful night in Subic Freeport after a meeting with some high-level Japanese investors when the attack happened. The Head of State has been whisked away to Singapore by some of her loyal followers.

The takeover came at around 12 midnight when three companies of renegade elite Army units sneaked in for a river borne assault; simultaneously armored vehicles rushed towards the gates and smashed the light resistance coming from the surprised Presidential Guards.

“Around 2 p.m. the 20-vehicle convoy entered the fallen palace bearing the members of the Junta. In a flash, they have ousted the President. The Junta had just established the ruling council which will govern the country. The President is now in Singapore and has condemned the Junta; they had formed a government-in-exile.” said a member of the group who detailed the events that happened to the Mayor.

“Hindi to pu-pwede” the Mayor uttered hurling a hail of expletives at the news. “The time is now” said an elderly member of the group. “We must hurry.” And the group settled into the house for the rest of the dawn.

By 8 a.m. the City was jolted by the breaking news. Television screens flash the images of the Junta announcing the peaceful take-over of the national government urging the rest of the former Government and the people to recognize and respect the new leadership. By 9 am, the image of the President beamed live from Singapore invoked constitutional authority asked the nation not to recognize the Junta and ordered units of the armed forces to crush the intruders.

By the morning the Junta had dissolved the Congress, replaced the entire Supreme Court and declared a martial law all over the country. The nation’s economic, political and social institutions had grounded to a standstill.

3 p.m. across Rizal Park the Mayor and the Group had gathered at the plaza and was joined by an Army contingent half an hour later. A motley group mostly curious onlookers and confused citizens had crowded in the square in the middle of Davao City.  Across Quezon Park in front of the City Hall the tri-colors of the Philippine flag was lowered. A flag emblazoned by an unusual eight-pointed star was hoisted.

“Today is a day of our independence.” Today we declare a new democratic nation, where equality, liberty and justice will reign. Today we declare the birth of the Republic of Mindanao.” after the speaker articulated the declaration of independence, a choir sang in a capella the national anthem amidst the cheers and gunfire coming from the civilian and military crowd. Similar brief Independence ceremonies were also held in ten major Cities and towns across the island.

Inside the sophisticated Camp Aguinaldo war room, news of the declaration of  Mindanao independence had just filtered in.  The General tersely received the news. Outside the Campgrounds, infantry and armor of the new Philippine Defense Forces were being readied to crush another breakaway Region; the Ilocos Republic.  Within a few minutes the forces had moved out.

A counter-attack by the loyalist forces of the erstwhile Philippine Republic was brutally crushed.  The General was a brilliant military tactician. The Defense Forces in military precision were fanning out across Luzon to smash whatever resistance before any organized defenses can be set-up.  

But the General was uneasy about the Mindanao Republic; the Loyalist Navy commander had dragged nearly the entire Philippine Fleet towards Singapore. The delay in transporting the troops needed to crush the Mindanao secessionists would take away the initiative of shock and awe that did well in crushing the breakaway ‘Republics’ and remnants of the old Republic in the island of Luzon.   

In Davao City, the Group since dawn had not lulled back to catch some sleep nor take some breather, in this critical period their adrenaline was running high, the Group was composed of a proportionate collection of prominent Christian, Moslem and Lumad personalities. Punishing marathon meetings were conducted to enact their plan of action; foremost priority was the organization of the new government. 

The Group immediately agreed of an emergency government with the Mayor as its President. But the Mayor strongly declined the post and offered it instead to a prominent Moslem member who accepted the provisional post. The Moslem in turn appointed and prevailed upon the Mayor to accept the post of Defense Secretary.

The Group decided that the creation of a new Army responsible for the defense of the Republic would be their top priority. They had been alerted to the fact that the Junta had commandeered inter-island RORO (Roll-off and Roll-on) Vessels and its Air Force were busy fitting up some C-130 transports and refurbished F-5A fighter jets for an all-out assault on the breakaway Mindanao Republic. 

At around 5 p.m. the Armed Forces of the Republic of Mindanao (AFRM) was born.

His first job as the Defense Minister, the Mayor was tasked to organize the Armed Forces of the Republic of Mindanao or (AFRM). Under him were the allegiances of four Army brigades. The rest of the units of the erstwhile Armed Forces of the Philippines had taken refuge in General Santos City and Zamboanga City where they maintained defensive positions. The Junta’s forces in Mindanao meanwhile had controlled the airports in Davao City and in Cagayan de Oro.

The Mayor ordered emissaries sent to the AFP units in General Santos and Zamboanga in the hope of converting them to their side or winning their support. Emissaries were also sent to New People Army (NPAs), the MILF and the MNLF. By the next morning the emissaries had wrangled a truce between the AFP and the AFMR, a commitment of about 6,000 men from the MNLF and the MILF and an assurance from the NPAs in securing the vulnerable western flank of Davao City; the Capital of the new Republic.

It had been two days after the take-over; the Junta had established the Democratic Nationalist Council as the ruling government. Meanwhile a People’s Revolutionary Constitution had superseded the 1987 Constitution.  

The General had witnessed how the Junta tried to restore normalcy to a nation struck in its worst crisis since World War II.  He saw the Junta’s never-ending dialogue with the Businessmen, the Church, the politicians, the academe etc. trying to assure them of their plans and visions for the country is the same as their aspirations and ideals but the General could only flinch as if the Junta’s efforts were one big joke.

“How can we dream of a better future for our Country if Mindanao is not with us?” the General opined irritated with suggestions from some members of the Junta who suggested in securing and strengthening the Junta’s grip of power first before attempting to retake Mindanao. “We must take Mindanao at all cost and at the soonest time possible”. The General said to himself, as he reached for his mobile phone.

“It will take a week before we can adequately set up our defenses, however we can opt for a strategy of guerilla warfare, with this plan we can frustrate their attack.” said the Chief-of-staff of the Mindanaoan Armed Forces.

“No! We must stop them the moment they land on our shores. Ayaw ko na nang patagalin itong giyera, let us not prolong the agony of the people.” said the Mayor.

Then an aide rushed to the Mayor and handed to him his cell phone. It was a call from the General.

 “You are the only sensible person I know there, I am asking you to stop this foolishness, please accept the authority of the Democratic Nationalist Council, as the new Government of the Filipino Nation. Come on Mayor, let’s talk things over, mapag-usapan natin ito.” said the General trying to act like a patient man.

“General, Mindanao has ceased to become a part of the Filipino nation the moment your Junta took power; there is nothing to talk about.” The Mayor replied.

“Very well then, you have sealed your fate.” The General said.

 “Yes, I am prepared for whatever outcome; we are ready to shed every drop of our blood the moment your forces will come here. Mindanao will be waiting for you General.” The Mayor replied.

The Colonel sat quietly inside the C-130 along with 120 of his men. The Hercules was flying over to Cebu for a short pit stop.  The Junta’s six F-5A and two AS-211 jet fighters are being refueled at the Mactan Air Base.   Along with the jet fighters there will be four C-130’s each laden with more than a hundred elite Special Units all of them en route to Mindanao.   Five RoRo vessels laden with three thousand soldiers with armor and artillery are now underway to the Island.

The Colonel was well immersed with the invasion strategy; with his Special Forces in the four C-130s he will land in Junta-controlled airports in Lumbia and in Davao City, there his forces will disrupt the defenders and divert them from the real objective of stopping the amphibious assault.

The Colonel got out of the plane and walked across the tarmac towards an officer and a platoon of soldiers. Exchanging pleasantries, the Colonel asked about the situation in Cebu in which the officer responded by poking his 9mm pistol at the Colonel’s head.

“Upon orders of the Government of the Republic of Visayas, I take you and your men as prisoners-of-war.” The officer declared to the Colonel as a soldier disarms him. By this time military 6x6 trucks and Hummer vehicles laden with troops sped towards the tarmac and began to surround the transports and the warplanes of the Junta.

“Republic of what?” asked the startled Colonel as he was herded to a waiting Hummer.

The General was furious; the attack on Mindanao was foiled by the appearance of a breakaway Visayan Republic who in turn had captured his top field commander aside from the hundreds of the Junta’s elite soldiers and its fleet of C-130 transports and warplanes. He had to turn back the rest of the invasion forces because of the recent misfortune.

“The time is now.” The General said. He was in his camouflaged uniform with his Glock pistol tucked in his holster. He looked at his watch; it was 2330 hours.  The General received reports of disagreements and infighting over power-sharing arrangements among the members of the Junta.  He was gravely disappointed at the way things are running. He had made his decision; it was time to take charge of this Country, what was written by force will be rewritten by force. Minutes later the drones of helicopters could be heard. They were night-flying-capable Hueys and MG-520 gunships.  Within minutes the General was aboard the chopper en route to Malacañang.

(to be continued)


Popular Posts