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Filipinos Call the Revolt ‘People Power’

February 24, 1986

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Things were different Monday in the state-owned Manila Hotel. The boss was in the bar, having a drink after submitting his resignation, and a waiter said: ″You cannot fight the will of the people.″

The red carpet was on its wheeled dolly in a hallway off the marble-floored lobby, where it customarily awaits the arrival of Imelda Marcos, whose husband, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was trying to to retain control of the country he had ruled for 20 years. She was not expected to visit, and no one seemed in a mood to roll out the carpet even if she did.

Roman Cruz Jr. was relaxing over a drink with two friends when an American tourist approached, suddenly stranded by the cancellation of his flight.

″I understand that you’re the president of Philippine Air Lines,″ the tourist said.

″Not any more,″ said Cruz, a long-time Marcos associate who also ran the hotel and the government’s employee insurance fund. ″I have submitted my resignation, to President Aquino.″

Corazon Aquino ran against Marcos in a presidential election Feb. 7 that Mrs. Aquino, the United States and other governments say was tainted by fraud. Military leaders who began a rebellion over the weekend have proclaimed her the new president.

Employees went about their work as usual, but the atmosphere had changed. It was clear that the coffee-shop waiter, Ernesto Esguerra, spoke for many of them.

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Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, the former chief of staff of the Philippine military who revolted on Saturday along with Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, became a sort of instant hero and obviously enjoyed it.

He was greeted with chants of ″Ramos 3/8 Ramos 3/8″ during an hour-long tour early Monday outside the Camp Crame compound where the rebels barricaded themselves.

Photographers caught the 57-year-old West Point graduate later Monday, smiling broadly and jumping into the air as crowds cheered the ″people’s revolution″ outside the rebel headquarters.

″This is the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life,″ he told reporters. He also said Marcos was not to be taken lightly. ″I have been his martial law administrator. I know his capacities,″ Ramos said.

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A 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was officially in effect as part of the state of emergency Marcos declared earlier in the day, but most people ignored it.

The curfew had come almost as an afterthought by Marcos, when a reporter asked about it. ″Now that you mention it, I am imposing a curfew,″ he said.

None of the hundreds of thousands of people celebrating outside Camp Crame seemed aware of the curfew.

Equally oblivious were thousands who formed a buffer against possible government retaliation outside Channel 4, the captured government television station, and about 1,000 gathered beyond wire barricades on Magsaysay Boulevard on the approach to Marcos’ riverside Malacanang Palace. Extra troops, armored personnel carriers and a tank were stationed outside the palace.

Soldiers fired into the air and used water cannon to disperse the crowd near the palace at one point Monday, but a Filipino reporter said the scene was was more ″like a fiesta″ later, with cheering, honking auto horns and yellow flags waving. Yellow was Mrs. Aquino’s campaign color.

Most of the soldiers appeared relaxed, he said, and talked across the barbed wire with the demonstrators. After a helicopter flown by air force defectors fired a grenade into the palace grounds, someone shouted at the guards: ″Hey, why don’t you join us? We’ve got an air force, and you don’t.″

The soldiers shrugged, and said nothing.

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After taking over the government television station, Channel 4, rebels broadcast warnings of possible retaliation by Marcos loyalists and asked that ″vigilantes for people power″ help protect the installations they held against military counterattack.

″Come out of your houses, come out to the streets. Show what ‘people power’ can do,″ one said.

″It is the people keeping the people safe,″ said another.

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