YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Marcos Declares Emergency; Won't Quit, Threatens Force : Rebels Seize TV Station as He Speaks

February 24, 1986|MARK FINEMAN and NICK B. WILLIAMS Jr. | Times Staff Writer

MANILA — President Ferdinand E. Marcos today declared a nationwide state of emergency aimed primarily at shutting down radio and television stations broadcasting reports that his government had been overthrown. He ordered loyal troops to use force to defend government installations after a rebel force of about 2,000 soldiers claimed that it had defeated Marcos and driven him from the country.

Marcos announced the move on government television from Malacanang, the presidential palace, where he was flanked by his wife, daughter, grandchildren and loyal military generals. He acted after the Roman Catholic Church-backed Radio Veritas began announcing repeatedly that Marcos and his family had fled the country and that the rebel forces had taken over the government. Marcos said he will not resign.

However, while Marcos was explaining his state of emergency to the broadcast audience, a detachment of rebel troops attacked the government television station, and it went off the air.

Station Taken Over

It was later learned that the rebel detachment, led by Col. Mariano Santiago, took over the station after a clash in which at least four people were wounded.

Amid conflicting reports from radio and television stations controlled variously by the government and the rebels, there were reports of sporadic shooting by government troops around the presidential palace, where many demonstrators had gathered, and of several other confrontations in what appeared to be mainly a propaganda war.

Reuters news agency reported that supporters of opposition leader Corazon Aquino had announced the formation of a new government. Another news agency report said that a tank fired at a rebel helicopter that dropped a grenade on Marcos' palace.

The city remained largely peaceful as Marcos resisted efforts by his military chief of staff, Gen. Fabian C. Ver, to launch an all-out attack on the rebels' headquarters at Camp Crame, a military base several miles from Marcos' Malacanang Palace.

Marcos Vows to Use Force

Before the attack on the government television station shut down the president's primary means of communicating with the nation, Marcos had vowed to use "all the force at my disposal" to put down the rebels, led by former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, former deputy military chief of staff. They remained with their heavily armed troops inside the camp.

In a Sunday midnight television address to the nation, Marcos pledged to "wipe out" the rebellion against him. Six hours after that midnight broadcast, a column of marines loyal to Marcos used tear gas and truncheons to clear civilian demonstrators out of their path and at dawn reoccupied an army base seized Saturday by the two military leaders.

The base, Camp Aguinaldo, which contains the Philippine Defense Ministry, was abandoned by the rebels Sunday so they could concentrate their forces at adjacent Camp Crame, which they consider easier to defend.

After announcing the state of emergency, Marcos advised all citizens to stay inside their homes today, and the Ministry of Education ordered all schools closed for the day.

Declaring that Enrile and Ramos--once among his most loyal supporters--had established "a revolutionary government," the president said his emergency declaration bans all broadcasts of military operations by radio and television stations, which he said are now under the control of the government.

The order, he said, differed from his 1972 declaration of martial law because his civilian government remains in charge of the country.

"Radio stations are causing all kinds of panic," the president said without mentioning by name Radio Veritas, which falsely broadcast all morning that Enrile and Ramos had succeeded in forcing Marcos to resign and flee the nation.

'Not as We Expected'

After Marcos' state of emergency broadcast, announcers on Radio Veritas backed off their claim.

"Things did not go as we expected," said one announcer, who did not give her name, but she added, "We heard so many reports, we really came to believe them."

But the station continued to broadcast appeals throughout the day to all Filipinos to come to the aid of the rebels by forming a growing human barricade of civilians outside their camp. And it broadcast reports relayed from rebel leaders inside their headquarters.

During the president's interrupted television broadcast today, Marcos left no doubt that he has no intention of resigning and that he plans to go through with an inauguration ceremony for himself Tuesday morning.

"There is no way I can step down or resign," Marcos said, adding that he still controls more than enough of the 200,000-man military to put down the rebellion whenever he wishes.

Los Angeles Times Articles