THE COUP ATTEMPTS
Corazon Aquino was president for six years, and during that time there were seven attempts to overthrow her government. All of the coup attempts failed, although the last one came very close to succeeding. In the beginning, Mo and the rest of us in WS were not involved in these, and were as surprised as the average Filipino when news of the insurrections appeared on TV. This would soon change.
In the 1986 snap elections, Marcos had received nearly half of the popular vote, and after 15 years in office, still had a broad power base, not only amongst rich ruling families and the military, but amongst many “Marcos Loyalists” in the general population. Many of Marcos’ powerful political backers were still in the Senate and Congress. Then there was Marcos’ running mate in the snap elections, Arturo Tolentino. After Marcos had fled the country, Tolentino remained in the Philippines, and ever since the EDSA Revolution of February, had been biding his time, plotting with his fellow Marcos Loyalists. Then, on Sunday, July 6, 1986, he made his move.
With 100 soldiers, Tolentino took over the luxury Manila Hotel and announced that since he and Marcos had “won” the elections, that Marcos (now in exile) had named him as the acting president of the Philippines. The hotel was barricaded the next day, filled with Marcos loyalists, and became the HQ for Tolentino’s “government.” He had hoped for a massive surge of popular and military support, but only a few thousand civilians showed up. He was eventually forced to renounce his claim to presidency and negotiate his surrender.
The 100 soldiers pled ignorance, saying they’d had no idea what Tolentino was up to. In a move of incredible leniency that would be the guideline for dealing with later coup plotters, the soldiers were “punished” by being forced to do 30 push-up and to swear loyalty to the Constitution. I remember reading newspaper commentaries on this. It was a joke. Everyone knew that Aquino was so easy on the coup plotters because if she’d punished them more severely, she’d have widened the gap between her and the military.
There were more coup attempts, most of them small and with even less popular support. At one point, some low-ranking soldiers stashed weapons in a cheap hotel near the army base, then barricaded themselves in and declared a revolt. They were immediately surrounded and surrendered. I presume they did push-ups too. Meanwhile, Aquino’s overtures toward the communists were making the military restless. She had ordered the AFP to “sheath the sword” while she attempted negotiations, but the military realized she was walking down a futile and potentially dangerous road. Cory Aquino was getting very close to signing an actual ceasefire with the communists.
The small coup attempts failed, but in the background, high-ranking military officers began to think of throwing a serious coup. These first attempts had also caught Mo’s attention, and we began to listen more carefully to the rumblings within the military. At this time, I was still living with most of other WS workers in Creations.2, a large house in New Manila, which is part of Metro Manila. I was writing speeches for Generals, writing for the Daily Food booklets, and writing Y.S. Flores articles. Then, one day in late 1986, Mo decided to “shorten the cord.” The Military Ministry had become such a priority that he and Maria wanted key people to come live and work closely with them at their Hilltop property on Sunflower Road, in Beverly Hills Subdivision, in rural Antipolo, 20 kilometers east of Manila.
A handful of us were called aside and told that we would be moving to the Folk’s Home outside the city. Like others, I was told that if I breathed a word that Mo was in the Philippines, I’d be immediately excommunicated. (There was no need. I’d known for two years that he was there, due to security slips by other WS staffers.) We packed our fleebags and one night, loaded into a big van and drove we knew not where. As we came close, we all ducked down so as to not be seen. Finally, the van stopped in front of an iron gate and when it was opened, we got out and walked up the steep stone driveway into the huge Hilltop property. At the top of the driveway was a large circular stone courtyard where we I would later walk with Maria on walkie-talkies, and where Mo had a giant white compass painted for the benefit of the military helicopters flying overhead.
Living with Mo, Maria and Peter is another whole story, but to give the setting of the Hilltop, it was about 1.5 acres in size and the rent was cheap, only about $1,000 a month. Mo and Maria lived in a small A-frame chalet to the left, overlooking the guardhouse and gate at the bottom of the driveway. At the top of the driveway, still to the left, was Peter’s one-bedroom apartment over the garage. To the right was the main house—not a mansion, just big and functional—where several Family members lived and where we all ate and met. Upstairs were the secretary’s offices. On the other side of the main house was the swimming pool, the chicken pen, the gardens, the banana grove, the fish ponds and a small Nipa Hut where visiting leaders usually stayed.
The Brick House was north of Peter’s house and the main house, on an adjoining property which the Family had just rented. This was where we new WS arrivals lived. It was at this Hilltop complex that we ran the Manila Military Ministry. Meanwhile, Mo and Maria were in contact with Marianne’s Home down in Manila, whose members actually went into the military camps and talked with the officers. Mo received frequent reports from the girls at Marianne’s home, some of which I read or heard news from. The southern edge of our property was on top of a forty-foot stone wall, and gave us a breathtaking view of the entire city of Manila spread below us, many miles away.
opposition to the peace process grew, Cory supporters fought to keep
things on track. On Oct.30, 1986, they staged a 10,000-man rally in Makati
(the high class financial/shopping district of Manila) to support her
initiative. Cory’s advisors also began to tell her that Enrile was too
outspoken and dangerous, and that he needed to resign. Meanwhile, Armed
Forces chief Fidel Ramos warned that there was a major split in the
loyalties of the armed forces.
Maria said in the intro of ML 2313, “A mere handful of our women (in Marianne’s Home) have been able to reach . . . literally the entire Armed forces of that country! (the Philippines)—Yet only one officer has actually gone to bed with one our girls!” That one officer Maria mentioned was known to us by the code name “Bond.” He was the Head of Military Intelligence (hence the name “Bond” after James Bond) and was being FFed by a Filipina sister named A. Once A. tried to get information out of Bond, asking him where military officers stood regarding Enrile. To his credit, Bond told A. to not be concerned with military matters.
When we had begun our Military Ministry, the Family was not involved in the coup attempts, but once Mo got involved, he got involved in a big way. Not only were the newspaper articles by Y.S. Flores advocating the military to take a tough stand against the communists, but warned repeatedly against attempting to negotiate with them, as the Aquino administration was doing. AFP officers were amazed when we informed them that it had been exactly 70 years from the date of the Russian Revolution, and suggested that the NPA might try a revolution to commemorate the event. It seemed possible. As we said in “A Red Takeover?”:
"From what the police and the military have recently told us, there are somewhere between 400 to 900 armed NPA commandos who have now infiltrated Manila. What do you think would happen if they suddenly surrounded and stormed Malacanang when the present administration was in session? Their counterparts in Russia, the Bolsheviks, captured the ‘Winter Palace’ when the Kerensky cabinet was meeting. Could a similar scenario unfold here?—It could happen very suddenly and by surprise. May God help us and our nation’s leadership to wake up and learn from history! And actively resist and fight the anti-Christ force of Godless Communism before it’s too late!”
It was around this time that Marianne, the leader of the Military Ministry Home, was sent into the office of the Minister of Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile. Marianne brought a blunt message from Mo. That message was one word: “Shoot!”
THE NOVEMBER COUP ATTEMPT
Y.S. Flores’ article, “A Red Take-Over?” was printed in the Nov.6, 1986 edition of the Manila Bulletin. On Nov.8, two days later, a coup attempt took place. Here’s what happened: Aquino was scheduled to make a state visit to Japan, and on Nov.7, the country was full of rumors of a looming coup. From the reports we at Mo’s house had received, this was not going to an isolated effort led by lower-level officers; this would be THE major onslaught involving a lot of top brass in a major insurrection. Aquino worried that Enrile would attempt to topple the government during the Japan trip, she had the palace guard go on red alert and scheduled the army to go on alert Monday, the day she left. But the coup was launched the next day.
Mo became extremely excited about it and uttered a lengthy prophecy predicting that this coup was going to succeed. He received a vision of the Angel of the Lord helping the coup leader and leading him to victory. Enrile, Mo felt, would be greatly encouraged by this message, and we had to get it to him immediately. Mo's prophecy was transcribed and the disc was rushed to my room in the Brick House. Mo correctly deduced that Enrile was a very busy man at this point and wouldn't have the time to read the full talk, so my instructions were to quickly edit the rough draft down into two short devotional-sized readings containing the most vital points of the prophecy and vision. The minute I was finished, the floppy disk was rushed out of my room and the file modemed to Family members in Manila, who immediately printed it out and, I assume, tried to get it to Enrile.
Unfortunately for the plotters, the coup was discovered before the tanks could roll out into the streets, and the gates of the military base were quickly closed to keep them in. Mo told us that if Enrile was any kind of an Aquarian, any kind of a revolutionary, he should go for it and drive his tanks right through the gates. Enrile thought otherwise. Not only had he lost the element of surprise, but his old friend, Fidel Ramos, had taken a stand against the coup. If he continued, he’d be fighting RamoS.
Maria had come over to the Brick House and I was sitting with her on the couch, going over some work, when a secretary rushed into the room and informed her that the coup had been discovered and called off. “Well, that's that,” I thought. Maria surprised me by saying, "Well, wait and see. They could still go ahead with it." They didn't. And since Enrile hadn’t actually gone ahead with a coup, there were no recriminations and he remained Minister of Defense.
The coup attempt had been on Nov. 8. Five days later, on Nov.13, the bodies of Rolando Olalia and his driver were found. Olalia was a trade union leader who had threatened that if a coup happened, he would lead his party of 1,500,000 members in general strikes. Olalia and his driver had suddenly disappeared. Now their dead, mutilated bodies were found in a suburb of Manila. The military denied any involvement, but obviously some hard right elements had done the job, though I doubt Enrile was involved. The next day, Nov.14, the “Bulletin” published Y.S. Flore’s next article, “Are Christianity and Communism Compatible?”
Five days later, on Nov.19, all hell started breaking loose. That was the day that our next Y.S. Flores article, “You Cannot Make Peace with the Reds!” was published. That same day one of Enrile’s top political allies, a former law-maker, David Puzon, was assassinated by unknown gun men, apparently in retaliation for the death of Olalia. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the state-run news agency put the blame on the communists. Then, during rush hour that same day, a time bomb exploded in Shoemart, a large department store in downtown Manila, injuring 21 people. It seemed things were spiraling rapidly out of control.
Ramos now put his weight fully behind Aquino, and it was rumored that she had promised him that if he was loyal to her, she would groom him to be the next President of the Philippines. (Ramos kept his end of the bargain, and Aquino kept hers; Ramos was president after her.) Therefore, Nov.21, President Aquino emerged from a meeting with Ramos to announce that she had plans to fire "one or two" Cabinet members. She was about to sign her ceasefire with the communists and was already warning that the military should make NO attacks on them whatsoever once the agreement was signed.
The very next day, Nov.22, my article, “30 Days!” was published. Using parabolic language, I told the story of a man of God driven by his conscience who boldly defied the ruler’s decree. Everyone thought I was writing about Enrile (which was my intention) but then I revealed that I was describing the prophet Daniel defying king Darius’ decree. I then drove the point home that we sometimes have to take courageous stands based upon our convictions. I remember hearing testimonies about the effect my article had. General M., a powerful General originally from the south, had formerly been a moderate; this article helped polarize him to the right. No one took a stand, however, and on Nov.28, Aquino signed a 60-day ceasefire with the New People’s Army rebels.
It wasn’t until Dec.8, however, that Aquino felt confident enough that the army was mostly on her side, that she could actually fire Enrile. She took her time because Enrile was her most dangerous critic and she knew how powerful support for him was. How many people supported him? That’s anyone’s guess, but I remember seeing on the news that the first person to meet with Enrile and console him after he was sacked was Vice President Salvador (Doy) Laurel. Laurel had been passed over as choice for president during the snap elections and had settled for the VP post, but it was well-known that he was an ambitious man./P>
Things quietened down somewhat after Enrile was no longer Defense Minister, and Ramos was fully on Aquino’s side. The coup plotters were extremely discouraged. They wondered if God had failed them, and were on the verge of giving up. Maria called me over and we went on a walkie-talkie in the circular court below her house as she explained (at Mo’s behest, no doubt) how so many of our friends were fatalistic, and when they failed, they simply accepted that that’s what was supposed to happen. She wanted an article to tell them not to give up so easily. The result was my article, “Fatalism!—To Pray or Not to Pray!” (Good Thots, pg.372)
To Mo, it seemed like the Philippines’ days were numbered. In Dec. 1986, he gave a talk called “Why Not?”, saying:
“With the Catholic
churches who are already cooperating with them [the Communists], &
other Christians, as long as they don’t oppose them or preach against
them, they’re going to show how they can get along with them. But churches
who openly are bitterly anti-Communistic & fight them, oppose them
& preach against them, they’re obviously going to fight them. (Maria:
In view of all this, should anyone even TRY to stand up & preach
against Communism now?) Well, right now BEFORE those governments have gone
completely whole-hog into the hands of the Communists, while there’s still
any possibility of saving them from Communism, voices should be raised in
warning of what’s going to happen. But by the time it gets to look like
it’s hopeless & useless & even dangerous, that’s the time to quit
warning the people.” (ML 2243:40–41) That day would soon come.
MOONIES, MARCOS &THE MILITARY
One day we heard a report that we were not the only group down at the bases: the Moonies were starting to infiltrate the military as well. We knew very little about the Moonies, other than that they were a bit of a strange group that most Christians considered a cult. (The Moonies have a very strong anti-communist stance and are involved with the military in many nations around the world, via their political organization, CAUSA.)
The Moonies, as we found out, didn’t trust us. A little sceptically, one of their leaders approached a Family member and asked if the Children of God were really against communism. “Yes, of course," was the reply. The Moonie pulled out a copy of the ML, "Godhafi's Third World", showed it to him, and reminded him that the Family had been very pro-Communist, pro-Socialist in the past. "We've changed our stance," the brother replied, and assured the fellow that we were now anti-communist. "Then maybe we can work together," the Moonie said. We never did end up working with them, but the Moonies did supply Family members in Manila with a copy of their thick, highly-researched manual against Communism, which was then forwarded on to Apollos and I at the Hilltop. We were told to use any good quotes in it for our Y.S. Flores articles. I briefly studied it, but it contained a lot of dry technical details and philosophical theories, and had no stories of Communists persecuting Christians, so I didn't read too far.
Marianne’s house, meanwhile, had armed guards supplied free of charge by the military. In January, 1987, a robber jumped over the wall of their property and robbed a brother named S. of hundreds of dollars. (This is described in “What to do in a Robbery,” ML 2244. The Family member in para. 133 who suggested, “Bring the guns!” was me). After that incident, Marianne was told to ask their military friends for armed guards to patrol their property 24 hours a day. At first the AFP objected, but when the Home insisted that we were doing a lot for the military and that the need was real, two guards were supplied.
Apart from distributing DFs to the Military bases and publishing the Y.S. Flores articles in the “Bulletin,” it was discovered that Marcos Loyalist rallies were a good place to distribute our message in flyer form. Since it would have attracted too much attention—and raised too many questions—if Americans had distributed them, Jo gave armfuls of flyers to young Filipino boys and paid them to walk through the rallies and distribute them. Amazingly enough, Marcos himself was still plotting behind the scenes to overthrow Aquino and come back to the Philippines.
The result was another coup attempt on Jan.27, 1987. On that day, troops loyal to Marcos briefly captured the air force HQ and a key base. The rebels held a television station but the uprising was soon crushed, leaving one rebel dead and sixty people injured. Meanwhile, in Hawaii, Marcos’ wife, Imelda, went on a shopping trip and bought, not more shoes, but combat gear. By Jan. 29, however, the final rebels were tear-gassed out of the TV stations and Marcos was forbidden by the U.S. from leaving Hawaii.
Eventually we stopped writing anti-communist, pro-military articles. The last Y.S. Flores article I know of was “The Two Faces of Communism!” (published Mar.1, 1987). So many coups had failed by this time, and so many had been planned but had never gotten off the ground, that Mo was getting quite cynical about it. It got to the point that when we heard of a coup brewing, we didn't take it seriously. The right-wing politicians involved in the coup attempts were quite careless with their security. One day when Jo went to their offices with our newest anti-communist article, one man parabolically told him, “Suppose such and such should happen.” One of the next politicians he went to, freely divulged to him that another coup was coming and told him, step by step, exactly what would happen. But as Peter told us in a meeting that evening, "They say there's going to be another coup, but I'll believe it when I see it."
THE TURNING POINT
Then, in February,
1987, a media expose began against the Family in the Philippines. Soon it
was occupying our attention full time. We almost completely stopped
writing Y.S. Flores articles and began publishing a series of articles in
the “Bulletin” defending the Family. The Family even held a major news
conference on April 1. (During the question & answer period, the main
speaker did a poor job of fielding questions, and as we watched the video
footage later and were asked to judge her “mistakes,” I knew why: just
before she had left the Hilltop, she’d asked me for a copy of the Family’s
PR Q&As. These Q&As were very badly written, and though I hadn’t
worked on them, I’d recently been made custodian over them. She quoted
from these PR Q&As, nearly killing the Press Conference as a result.)
There was a major national event in February: Filipinos went out to vote for their new constitution. In 1973, using his sweeping Martial Law power, Marcos had abolished the bicameral Congress. When Aquino took over in 1986, she appointed a commission to write a new constitution which would, among other things, restore democratic institutions. The new constitution was now finally written, presented in Feb. 1987, and ratified in an overwhelming popular vote. Three-quarters of the Philippines voted for it. For Mo, this was an ominous sign showing that the nation was doomed: since, he believed, Aquino’s government was so pro-communist that they were already communists at heart, this vote “proved” that Filipinos had cast their vote for a communist government and the nation was in its death throes. Mo said:
“Despite our literature & warnings which were voiced abroad throughout that country which reached millions of people, after or Family warned them that Cory Aquino was a pro-Communist & the government’s pro-Communist, they voted three-to-one for her & her government & her constitution. So you might just as well say that the Philippines is already three-fourths communist or communistic . . . It’s almost a miracle that the anti-Communists have been able to survive as long as they have! That country has had its chance! It has had it & God is now prepared to judge it & let His judgements fall! And their final crowning crime is to attack us . . . the most dangerous enemies of Communism, because we exposed them & we exposed the government & we exposed Aquino.” (ML 2311:1–3)
Mind you, we hadn’t published any articles warning the Philippines that their new constitution was “dangerous,” nor had we found any particular fault with it. Yet now Mo believed that in voting for this constitution, Filipinos had rejected our warning message and were doomed. He said: “The Philippines has had it! With at least our anti-Communist message, our warnings about the evils & the dangers of Communism, I would say the vast majority of the people have not believed it, or they wouldn’t have voted for their pro-Communist government! If I ever heard of a country ripe & ready for the harvest of communism, it’s the Philippines! So the Philippines is headed for communism & destruction as far as its present system is concerned! It’s coming sooner or later, & the way things look right now it sounds & looks like SOONER!” (2307:61,117)
Meanwhile, after having battled two months in the media, the Family was now in danger of being deported, so after agonizing over the decision, Mo gave the word for Family members in the Philippines to leave to avoid having an official deportation order on the books. A press release on April 13 stated that the top leaders had left and the rest of the foreign members—numbering in the hundreds—were packing up and leaving.
THE DOOMED NATION
Mo saw the Family’s leaving as the death knoll for the Philippines. He said: “God wants to get rid of us so he can judge that country! They have now filled their cup of iniquity & have created their own crowning crime by attacking us, their only possible saviours, just like they did Jesus, their Messiah. In a sense, we’re their Messiahs. We brought the only message that could save them! But they have spurned it, they have turned away form it—the vast majority has—they rejected it, by actual count of votes at least 75% of them.” (ML 2310:15)
In a parting strongly-worded message, WS put out a press release on Apr.13, “The Children of God Tell the People!” In this final blast against the Communists and Communist-lovers, was a warning of the doom now certain to come:
“We’ve also done all that we can to expose the vicious, anti-God, anti-Christ nature of Communism, & to warn you of the horrible consequences you will suffer if you allow this Satanic force & its perpetrators to take over your land. Although our message to this effect has been heard & read by millions of you, our warning has NOT been heeded by most. The majority of the public have now endorsed & received with open arms & voted for those whose political leanings & sympathies are known to be pro-Communist, & thus anti-Christ!
“Therefore you will probably not realise that our warning to you were true until it is too late, & you eventually suffer the same sad fate as China, Vietnam, Laos & Kampuchea! ‘For when it comes to pass (& lo, it SHALL come), then shall they know that a Prophet has been among them!’—Ezekiel 33:33. Throughout the Bible, whenever a nation or people rejected God’s Message & warnings, that nation soon suffered the inevitable judgements of God!—So beware!”
Mo and the rest of us did not join the exodus from the doomed nation, however. While hundreds of men, women and children who had spent years in the Philippines fled to foreign lands, we quietly sat it out. The remaining 200 or so Filipino and foreign Family members moved into the Jumbo, a huge property inside Manila, on Mariposa Ave. (This property was so massive and had so many buildings, that there were 36 toilets. It was my wife’s job to clean them all every day.) With most of the Philippine Homes closed down and Mo’s interest in the Military Ministry waning, our outreach to the AFP was a shadow of what it had once been. The Y.S. Flores articles had ceased. Enrile, whom Mo had wanted to be the leader to save the Philippines, was no longer the Minister of Defense, and was thinking of becoming a politician.
April, 1987, Mo wrote “Not a Chinaman’s Chance!” (ML 2311) saying that since the Philippines had rejected God’s Word, kicked out the Family, they were about to be judged. “That country has had its chance! It has had it & God is now prepared to judge it & let His judgements fall! I believe that country is not just going communist, it has already gone in heart.” Mo now lamented that the Philippines would now NOT be one of the Anti-Antichrist nations fighting the AC: “So there’ s a nation which perhaps could have stood up & fought the communists & the Antichrist, but he sneaked in through the church & through the liberals . . . which has completely emasculated their ability to fight the anti-Christ forces. So I wouldn’t give the Philippines a Chinaman’s chance!” (2311:10,16–18)
In June, 1987, the situation looked so hopeless to Mo that he decided it was time to put the brakes on our pro-Rightist, anti-Communist stance. He said, “I don’t see there’s much future eventually for the Right or the Rightists in this World! It looks to me like the Left is sure going to win or already have won and it’s futile to FIGHT it and to be KNOWN for fighting it. I think it would be a lot safer to maybe just sort of go HUSH on things that are too militantly Rightist.—Maybe sort of flow with the tide a little more to avoid trouble, because you can’t stop it anyhow.” (ML 2325:2)
Was Mo accurately assessing the world situation? No. The Philippines itself never did fall to the NPA. And in the world at large, within a few short years, communism would collapse in Russia and the East bloc nations, and communist countries around the world would throw off the old regimes and become free.
For months Mo had pushed for a right wing military junta to take over. Why did he now give up on the “militantly Rightist” cause and decide that “it would be a lot safer to maybe just sort of go hush”?—Because he had decided that there was no hope for the military to take over, and that the Philippines was already as good as communist. What tipped the scales? The media barrage against the Family that began in February, coinciding with Filipinos voting for their new constitution. The Philippines had rejected the Family and rejected our anti-Communist message.
When none of the coup attempts succeeded, Mo simply gave up hope for the country. Part of the reason was that Mo, as he himself often confessed, was a very impatient person. For all the time and attention he had given the Manila Military Ministry—not to mention all the manpower and money—it hadn’t accomplished what he’d wanted it to. Instead, the Philippines was, as far as he could see, already pro-Red and about to be taken over by the Reds.
RINGO HONASAN’S COUPS
Two months later, there was a huge military assault—But it wasn’t the predicted communist takeover. President Aquino had assumed that Juan Ponce Enrile was her most dangerous, charismatic opponent. She had completely overlooked Lt. Col. Gringo Honasan. Gringo was one of the founders of RAM (Reform the Armed Forces Movement) boys and was good-looking, intelligent and highly respected in the NAFP. He was the one military leader who avoided the Family on the bases, for whatever his reasons. Gringo was very radical and methodical. When he was ready to move, he launched the most serious military offensive that had ever been mounted.
On Aug.27, 1987, at about 2 a.m. rebel troops attacked the presidential palace and the state-owned Channel 4 TV station. Fierce gun battles lasted nearly two hours, leaving more than a dozen people dead. Finally, loyal army units drove off the rebels who then retreated to Camp Aguinaldo in suburban Manila. They also holed up in the Camelot Hotel, a well-built “love hotel” in nearby Quezon City. (WS members who were still living in town reported climbing onto the roof of their house and watching in one direction as fighter bombers dive-bombed Camp Aguinaldo and in another direction as helicopter gunships strafed the Camelot Hotel.) After 20 hours of intense street fighting in Manila, two helicopter gunships and two World War II T-28 planes bombed and strafed rebel positions inside the camp. I remember standing with other Family members at Mo’s hilltop residence in Antipolo the next evening, looking out over Manila and watching the fires as Camp Aguinaldo burned many miles away. By that time, it was clear that Gringo’s coup attempt had failed. A leader came up and told us to go to our offices and get back to our work.
The next day, government forces sealed off all the roads leading out of Manila, but Honasan and his men escaped. Two days later, in hiding, Gringo declared a provisional revolutionary government under a ruling junta composed of junior officers, but it was all words. Loyal troops under Ramos held the capitol with tanks and crack jungle fighters, and Honasan himself was out in the jungles.
After the coup, Mo prayed, “Help the coup leader Honasan. Lord God, he’s trying to do right, & he IS right, Lord. You know he’s right to fight that insidious Communist-loving government. Stir up the military! Help them to have the guts to take over, Lord, against that sickening, weak, Commie-loving regime, in Jesus’ name! Rebuke that compromising, weak, willy-nilly Chief of Staff of the Military, Ramos!—Or give him the guts to oppose that regime, Lord! He should side with Honasan, Lord! Honasan may have lost the physical battle but he won the spiritual battle! Thank You Lord! It shook up that government to it very foundations! Thank You Lord!” (“Prayer for the Philippines,” DO 2351:3,5,15)
Although Honasan had had little direct contact with the Family, and most of the Family had now gone, Mo claimed that Honasan and his fellow officers and men were acting out the advice we HAD given them for so many months—through the Y.S. Flores articles, DFs, and direct advice. Mo said,“We’ve told’m, Lord, our voice has been heard! Your voice has been heard! Thank You Jesus! They go the Word, Lord! Our Family gave them the Word, Lord, & now they’re trying to do it!” (2351:8)
This brought about a temporary renewed interest in military matters, but also served to underline the fact that all right wing coup attempts were doomed to fail. Mo’s interest moved on to other projects. We had already created a swimming pool at the Brick House, then cemented the driveway, and now Mo mobilized all men at the Hilltop—including myself and all other WS workers—to do a massive renovation of the third floor of the Brick House. Mo loved to get us “paper pushers” at work on construction.
Finally there was no reason to stay in the Philippines any more. In November, 1987, Mo, Maria and their closest staff left the Philippines and headed to Japan to work on the next major project—the Heavenly City School (HCS), and began writing a series of Letters pushing education. First there was “The School Vision!” (ML 2430, Dec. 87), saying “It’s Japan’s hour!” (paras.55–56). Then followed a stream of MLs about Japan, such as “It’s Up to Japan!” (ML 2404, Jan.88). Marianne’s Military Ministry Home in Manila had closed down by this time and moved to Japan, and after pioneering the nightclubs, opened up the Tokyo Experimental Outreach Home (FSM 138). Soon Mo would warn that the Family needed to reach the Japanese youth before the Antichrist made them “demon-possessed leaders to rule the World.” (ML 2413:77).
Once the Folks and staff had gone, the rest of WS came up from the town house and joined us at the Hilltop. Meanwhile, things seemed to go downhill for the coup plotters. Remember Gringo Honasan? He had escaped into the jungles and stayed there for some time. Then he slipped back into the city and hid for months in a house in Paranaque, Metro Manila. On Dec.10, 1987, he was discovered, captured, and held on a prison ship in Manila Bay. However, to everyone’s surprise, on April 2, 1988, he and his men escaped. Honasan was such a charismatic leader that even some of his prison guards joined him and fled with him into the jungle!)
In September, 1988, all of WS finally packed up at the Hilltop, bid the Philippines goodbye and followed Mo to Japan, moving into an old riokan (guest house) in a small Japanese village near the Heavenly City School. The Philippines was now behind us, abandoned to its doom and awaiting a communist takeover. We pushed the Military Ministry and military coups out of our minds, and got busy with other projects.
The imminent communist takeover never happened. Instead, two years after Mo left the Philippines, on Nov.20, 1989, Gringo Honasan led a second coup attempt, the most serious military strike ever. A war raged in Manila for 10 days, leaving over 100 people dead. Gringo would have probably won had it not been for the intervention of the U.S. military. His coup began before dawn with rebel pilots in T-28 planes made bombing runs on the presidential palace. Gringo’s rebels controlled nearly the entire Philippine Air Force, so Aquino called the Americans at Clark air base and the next day, Dec.1, U.S. F-4 Phantom jets pinned down the rebel pilots. The battle continued on the ground. Hundreds of rebel soldiers spread out across Manila and threatened that they would attack the homes of Americans in Manila if U.S. forces joined Aquino’s troops in attacking them. Heavy fighting raged for three days, leaving the rebels surrounded in the posh shopping district (Makati). Many tourists were trapped in their hotels. Finally the rebels surrendered, and by Dec.10, there was a massive, but again unsuccessful, manhunt for Gringo and the other rebel officers.
Mo’s reaction to Gringo’s second—and almost successful—coup attempt was very strong. In "Prayer Against the Forces of Evil in the Philippines!" (ML 2593:1,2,4,13,17,24,30,31,37,40), he prayed: "God damn Cory Aquino, and help this revolution against her to succeed, in Jesus' name! Help Gringo Honasan, in Jesus' name! Give him strength . . . over Ramos, that God-damned compromiser Ramos! Lord, in Jesus' name, give them the guts to kill'm!—To kill her & to kill Ramos . . . including that sinful Cardinal! Strike him down! Let him get killed, Lord! He deserves it, Lord! He opposed us & persecuted us! May he now get his judgment! Help them [the rebels] not to stop at anything that will give them the victory!
“Help them not to be afraid to kill Aquino & Ramos & Cardinal Sinful! Help them not to hesitate, but to eliminate those wicked people, in the Name of Jesus! Help the rebels to kill them, to destroy them! May they thoroughly destroy them! Kill them, Lord! They did us evil, Lord! Now vindicate us, Lord! Revenge us, Lord, & destroy them! Help them not to hesitate to strike, to bomb, to machine gun & destroy Cory Aquino & her wicked associate Cardinal Sinful & . . . Fidel Ramos. Help them to slaughter them! Help them to do it without any whim of conscience. Lord, help them to do it now, to kill Ramos, kill Aquino, & kill Sinful! Help the rebels to destroy these fountains of evil, these sources of evil! Help them to kill them, Lord!—To kill the sources of evil! Kill Cory! Kill Cardinal Sin! Kill Ramos!"
Gringo’s second coup attempt had stirred Mo up again, but this was to be the final hurrah. The coup was crushed and Gringo fled back into the jungle. Mo had wanted to see a strong, right wing military government take over and save the Philippines from the Communists. When it now came SO close to happening, yet was thwarted, he was extremely frustrated. There were no more pro-right wing writing assignments, no more speeches, no more Y.S. Flores articles, nothing. It was over. Even the fall of communist governments in East Europe and Russia, beginning in 1989, did not revive hope for a right wing, anti-communist government in the Philippines.
In 1992, Aquino’s six-year term ended and new elections were held. Her former Army Chief of Staff, Fidel Ramos, was elected the next president. The head of the military was finally running the nation. Ramos immediately launched an economic revitalization plan premised on government deregulation, increased private investment, and political solutions to the NPA and Muslim insurgencies. He was somewhat successful and large numbers of NPA surrendered. Problems remained, but the Philippines escaped much of the economic turmoil that hit other East Asian nations in 1997–98.
Joseph Estrada, a former movie actor, was elected president in 1998, pledging to help the poor and develop the country's agricultural sector. Again, however, no major agrarian reform materialized. Instead, Estrada was forced from office in 2001 by massive protests over alleged corruption and diversion of millions of pesos.
Mo had dozens of people—in Marianne’s Home, and us in WS—devoting massive amounts of time to the Manila Military Ministry for nearly one year. This represents many thousands of man-hours of work. In addition, many tens of thousands of dollars went to support this ministry. WS kicked in a large percentage, to be sure, but the tithes and offerings of many officers went directly to supporting our Military Ministry, and the printing of literature. And while I have already pointed out that the Armed Forces of the Philippines did benefit from the DF ministry and, to a lesser degree, our ongoing support for their fight against communism, the question must be asked: who benefitted from our involvement in the military coups?
Did Minister of Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, benefit from our military meddling? No. Although Mo prodded and pushed Enrile to take radical action and risk everything in the November coup, when the hard decisions had to be made, to his credit, Enrile made up his own mind. He decided that such actions would not achieve the objectives he wanted to reach. Instead, he later began to work within the framework of Philippine democracy, and sits today as a powerful Senator in the Philippine government.
Did Lt. Col. Gringo Honasan benefit from our military meddling? As I pointed out, Gringo had almost nothing to do with the Family. What he did, he did on his own initiative. And although it may be true, as Mo claimed, that our barrage of articles and DFs helped polarize the military and the public, making them more sympathetic to his attempts to take over the government, in the end, Gringo did exactly what he wanted to do, and—because we “hushed” our “militant rightist” push after June, 1987—what help we offered simply was not enough. Gringo, to his credit as well, ended up signing a one-man peace treaty with the government, entered politics, and became a Senator.
Did Chief of Staff, Fidel Ramos, benefit from our involvement in military coups? The answer here is a clear No. Ramos, above all other men, was betrayed. Ramos was the Chief of Staff who had authorized the Family to go on the bases. He was personally favorable to our ministry and appreciated our moral support. Yet he knew nothing of our involvement with the coup plotters who were trying to overthrow the government he was sworn to defend. And although we were friendly to his face, behind his back Mo called him a compromiser. And in the end, during Gringo’s final ten-day coup attempt, Mo prayed that Fidel Ramos would die a violent death. Fidel Ramos has been called the most honest president the Philippines has ever had. He is a highly intelligent man, well-meaning, unselfish and a man of integrity. He deserved better from us.
Fidel Ramos confounded Mo’s angry prayers by not only surviving the coup attempt, but by going on to become the President of the Philippines himself. Mo was convinced that the Philippines was awaiting God’s judgments to fall, that a communist takeover was imminent, and that it would be “compromising” Ramos’ fault when it did, but Mo didn’t have the mind of the Lord on the matter, nor a prophetic vision. He was mistaken and driven by his own opinions.
WHO BEARS RESPONSIBILITY
It should be clear that, after examining all the evidence, I place PRIMARY responsibility on Mo (David Berg) for the excesses, mistakes and our illegal meddling of the Manila Military Ministry. He was the driving force, without whom neither WS nor the local Homes would have become involved in egging on the military. Unless she had received a direct order from Mo to tell Enrile, “Shoot!” Marianne never would have gone to the Defense Minister’s office with such a message. Mo bears primary responsibility.
Peter and Maria bear their share of responsibility. They went along with Mo in all this, helped organize WS’s publications, and passed on writing assignments. In all fairness, however, neither of them would have been involved to the extent that we were, had Mo not been pushing this. Peter in particular did not seem into it. From everything I saw, I didn’t get the impression that they were the pushers. This was Mo’s project. Remember, while Mo was focused on the Manila Military Ministry (as well as other projects like handyman inspections, building a swimming pool, cementing the driveway, re-modeling the third story of the Brick House, and reading newspapers), Maria and Peter were handling the day-to-day running of the Family and dealing with reports and tapes from around the world. Maria assigned me to write those articles at Mo’s behest, but I get the impression that she really wasn’t “into” it either. When she and I were sitting on the couch at the Brick House, right in the middle of the Nov.8 coup attempt, we were going over other work. When the secretary ran in with the message that the coup had stopped, Maria did say, "Well, wait and see. They could still go ahead with it,” but we then continued right on with our other work.
What responsibility do the girls in the Military Ministry Home, bear?—the ones who went to the camps and actively tried to polarize moderate officers? I said in my first article that much of what they did in the early months—particularly preaching the Gospel and grounding new converts in the basics of the faith—was good, and some of that good continued throughout the entire length of the Military Ministry. However, I’m here talking about the excesses. What about Marianne, who headed that Home, and those in her Home who did Mo’s bidding on very questionable activities? Only they know the details of their involvement. I would say they, along with the rest of us, were “enablers.” We went along with things we shouldn’t have, either because we wholeheartedly believed in it at the time, or possibly never spoke out if we had reservations.
WS workers like myself bear more responsibility than the girls in Marianne’s Home. After all, we were the ones who wrote those articles with the specific intent in mind of stirring up the emotions of military and even the public, and urging them to strong action. We could be rightfully accused of “inciting a riot” or being “involved in subversive activities.” After I left the Family, I went through a period of trauma where I felt that I literally had blood on my hands for the Filipinos who had died in the coup attempts. What we did was utterly inexcusable. Looking back at it now, I can see how crazy it was to let our faith in Mo’s Endtime doctrines get us involved in such dangerous and illegal military action. Considering the danger this could have put regular Family members in, what we were doing was literally insane. What if NPA Sparrow (“hit”) units had begun targeting Family members? They were already targeting and killing military officers.
It is easy and accurate to point the finger at Mo for being the main driving force behind things, but Peter, Maria and myself, as well as many others, must bear our share of the guilt. At the time, I believed in what we were doing—every bit of it, even the coup devotionals I edited. I had no question as to any of it being right. The thought never crossed my mind. I was therefore only too willing to write those articles to polarize the military into backing the coup-plotters. It has taken looking at these matters in the light of day, to see how far off track we were and how illegal our activities were.
If we had been Filipinos—even Filipino Family members—it could be argued that we had more of a “right” to be involved in such internal Philippine issues, although not as Gospel-preaching missionaries. But we were Americans and foreigners living there on tourist visas. We had no right to advocate the violent overthrow of their government. In the past, Mo had angrily lashed out at the CIA for just military meddling. Back in 1973, after the CIA helped Chilean right-wingers overthrow Allende in a coup, Mo wrote, “The End of Allende” in which he said, “The U.S. has signed its own death warrant in backing a fascist military coup in Chile! American fascism has not proved it is not one bit interested in the democratic process!” (272:28,55) We had once denounced foreign-aided rightwing coup attempts, but here we had now done the same thing.
Writing this history has been a personal catharsis for me. For the first time, seeing all the facts together, red-letter dates together with the publishing of articles, and relevant Mo quotes, has helped me see the far-reaching effects of what Mo did, and what I personally did in writing those Y.S. Flores articles and those articles for the DFs. I have been shocked to see how some of our heavy articles and advice coincided with coup attempts. We were literally throwing fuel on the fires. Seeing these things stirred old memories in me of testimonies I’d heard of moderate officers being polarized to the right by reading what I and other WS editors had written, and reminded me of the profound effect that our pubs had in the Philippines from 1986–87.
I personally say “Never again,” and I pray and trust that this history will have brought enough issues to light, that a similar mistake can never happen. As I said in my first article: “I’m writing this to give as impartial an account of the Manila Military Ministry as I can both for ex-members and Family members, preserving this portion of Family history for posterity. I believe that Family leadership is probably nearing the time when they are willing to take ownership of what happened and to integrate is as part of their legacy—mistakes and all. This article is an attempt to start that process. I’m glad that Family members are willing to admit that Mo made some mistakes, and what we eventually ended up doing in Manila could hardly be viewed as anything but.
“By writing this history I am not attempting to harm the Family or bring persecution upon them. It’s simply not going to happen. I admit that in the past I have cited Mo’s and WS’s involvement in the Manila coup attempts as proof that the Family was a politically dangerous group that should be investigated by the authorities, but over the years I have come to see all the issues in a broader context—which was the reason for my writing two articles giving the background before describing our involvement in the coup attempts. It is also my firm belief that the events of 1985–86 were a bizarre ‘experiment’ unique to the Philippines, and do NOT make the worldwide Family politically subversive. Such activities have not, to my knowledge, ever been repeated in any other nation.
I have attempted here to deal with one of the most astonishing episodes in Family history in a fair, even-handed manner. As I showed in the first two articles, good was accomplished in the beginning—and a great deal of more good could have been accomplished had we simply stuck to preaching the simple Gospel of John 3:16. But this final article has also detailed the excesses and extremely serious mistakes that were made. I pray that such things will never be repeated. It is too late to change the past, but we can learn from it.