I met with Cory to decide the choice of Cabinet members per our agreement. At this time Cory and I were in close consultation. We were meeting everyday, sometimes twice a day –mainly on the choice of Cabinet members and urgent priority items to act on. I submitted names on the basis of our agreement that there would be close consultation of the composition of the Cabinet. At this point I noticed that she was not following our agreement. She rejected my recommendations except for one (H. Perez). (She cannot decide).
I met with Cesar Virata to agree on a smooth turnover of the Office of the Prime Minister. He agreed but asked for time to meet with Batasan MP’s (KBL). My takeover was delayed because Virata said the Constitution requires that the Batasan must elect the PM. However with sympathetic KBL MP’s (Yñiguez/Virata/JPE plus UNIDO stalwarts, I am assured of a clear majority.
I asked (Ambassador Jose) Ingles to arrange my takeover of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I arrived punctually before 9 A.M. –everybody –the political and local leaders, the local and foreign media– were all there. But Cory was nowhere. I inquired her whereabouts. Tessie Oreta, Butz Aquino did not know. We waited two hours. Finally at 11 A.M. I was able to talk to her on a two-way radio. “Cory –where are you? Is there a problem? You should be here now. Everybody’s waiting!” She could not talk on the radio phone, she said, “There is a problem. Could you please come?” “Where are you?” I asked. “Same place as yesterday.”
I rushed to Josephine’s house in WW. I was there in 3 minutes. When I arrived everybody was so quiet, as if someone had died. I was met by her son, Noynoy at the entrance. I was led to her room. When I opened the door Cory was seated on a chair looking out the window.
“What’s wrong, why are you still here? Everybody is waiting. And at high noon, which is 55 minutes from now, FM is taking his oath. We must beat him to it!”
“But Enrile told me not to go. He says we will all be killed there. He says I should take my oath in his office at Camp Aguinaldo. I’ll be safe there, he said. You have to talk to Enrile.”
“It’s too late to change the venue. I’ll talk to Enrile. Can someone dial him for me? I don’t know his phone number.” Ballsy dialed and in a moment Enrile was on the phone.
“Johnny, this is Doy, I’m here with Cory. She says you don’t want her to take her oath at Club. But everybody’s there now. All media is there, about 2000 leaders and news people are there. They’ve been waiting for more than two hours.
“Johnny, there is no problem about security there. I’ve taken care of that. I have about 300 Batangueños, ready to protect us. We cannot show any fear at this time. FM will take his oath in an hour. Why don’t you and Eddie Ramos take a chopper and land like commandos. That will be dramatic.” Enrile agreed, “OK Eddie and I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
CCA arrived at 10 A.M. We met in her sister’s house at Wack Wack (near my house). I told her we must take our oath today. She agreed and asked me to make all the arrangements. I decided on Club Filipino. I invited opposition leaders and local and foreign media.
CCA came again at 5 P.M. at home. Somebody must have scared her. She said Club Filipino was too fragile and vulnerable to attack from FM men. She asked to see my father’s house (beside my house). It was already dark at 6 P.M. when we walked to the house. When she saw the concrete walls, she was impressed. “I prefer it here. Dito na.” She said “Besides, I don’t think Marcos will attack the Old Man’s house.” She remembered FM’s public admission that he owed his life to the Old Man. “OK with me.” I said “But if FM will really attack us, he will attack us wherever we are. Besides it may not be able to accomodate 2000 political leaders and media people we expect. Likewise we have already announced the plan to the press. Ituloy na natin baka akalain pa ng tao naduduwagan na tayo. We are the leaders, Cory, and we must never show fear. Courage is contagious but so is cowardice.”
Cory was quiet. Then she said, “Kabado pa rin ako. And I don’t do things at night, call it superstition. But I’d rather take our oath in the morning, in the sunlight.”
“Well your instincts have always been good so far. OK we’ll reset it for tomorrow at 9 A.M. –Club Filipino.” Then she went back to Josephine’s house.
I arrived in Calatagan private airfield of EZ after 2 hrs. and 45 min. flight on single engine private plane hired by Tony Escaño Garcia. Met by Governor Joey Laurel –helicopter to Manila– landed on helipad of Intercon. Met there by JSL. Proceeded to Camp Aguinaldo.
We were in Cebu when Enrile and Ramos staged their mutiny in Camp Aguinaldo. I addressed the “Doctors for Democracy” and CA talked to the Cebu lawyers. Then the rally at 4 PM. After the rally after having dinner at a restaurant, a foreign correspondent told me JPE and Ramos had barricaded themselves in Camp Aguinaldo. I Told CCA to go to the Good Shepherds for security. I cancelled Davao and arranged to take a private plane to Manila via Calatagan.
We met with State Department people (Claude Buss and Guy Pauker). Then came Reagan’s special envoy, Philip Habib, on February 17. Speaking for CCA and myself, I told him, “We will never give up the fight to dismantle the dictatorship. We will go on and on until FM steps down and obeys the true mandate of the people.” He said he would talk to FM –that same afternoon.
We concentrate on the foreign press for coverage.
Cory and I met at the house of my son, David in our Mandaluyong compound. She announced that she had changed her mind. She was now willing to run under UNIDO! She reiterated her previous offer that I would be her Prime Minister, that she would step down in two years, that I would name 30 percent of the Cabinet, that she would appoint the remaining 70 percent after close consultations with me. I said I would have to think it over and decide before the deadline that night.
At eight o’clock that evening I made up my mind. I called Cory to meet me at the house of Maur Aquino-Lichauco. My two brothers, former Speaker Jose B. Laurel Jr. and former Ambassador Jose S. Laurel III, came with me. I wanted them and Doña Aurora to witness what I would tell Cory. At about ten o’clock, I told her I was giving way to her. She was overwhelmed. When I extended my hand to congratulate her, she held it in both her hands and said, “Thank you, Doy. I’ll never forget this.”
Cory turned to my two brothers and said “I-formalize na ninyo ang ating pinagkasunduan.” But Kuya Pito said, “Hindi na kailangan I-formalize pa iyan. Lalong masakit lamang kung hindi tinupad.”
“Let’s go,” I said, “We have to beat the COMELEC deadline!”
I called a press conference to announce the filing of my candidacy as official UNIDO candidate for the presidency.
In my statement I said: “I can sacrifice myself. I can sacrifice the presidency. But I cannot sacrifice my party and principles. I cannot sacrifice my party and principles. I cannot sacrifice the people who have suffered so much and worked so hard all these years, risking life, liberty and even honor, to put up the political machine that is now capable of toppling the Marcos dictatorship.”
That same afternoon I filed my certificate of candidacy with COMELEC.
Telegrams and long distance calls from all over the country poured in expressing support for my candidacy.