Transformation at EDSA

The tumultuous 1980s in the Philippines is the context for this section’s account of General Ramos’ pivot from his allegiance to the chain of command that emanated from the presidency to a break with the chain. His higher allegiance to democracy and the Constitution that enshrines it, gave him to withdraw his support for President Marcos’ hold on the nation, empower a coup d’etat, and lead a rebellion at the discovery of the coup. The historical turn that has since been variously called the EDSA People Power Revolution, or Rebellion (after the location between the general headquarters of the military and police forces, Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) led to the ascendance of Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, the widow of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., to the presidency. General Ramos was to serve President Aquino as her Secretary of Defense, during which tenure he had to wage armed defense against a series of coups d'état. Mounted by disaffected military personnel involved in the coup plot to depose President Marcos, these members of the group Reform the Armed Forces (RAM) attempted to wrest power from President Aquino. Secretary Ramos maintained faith in democracy and defended it militarily. As the principal architect of the Aquino Administration’s Amnesty Program for rebel returnees, he was his president’s principal partner in peace-building trajectories towards détente with the Muslim separatist forces and the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines. This section provides detail on Fidel V. Ramos’ decisions during this pivotal decade, that would lead to his own ascendance to the presidency of the Philippines, and the opportunity to institutionalize people power in governance, supported by economic development.

National Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos joins a multitude on EDSA to celebrate
the first year anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution.

"What is happening is not a coup d’état, but a revolution of the people.”
General Fidel V. Ramos, EDSA, 23 February 1986
Ramos family archives