Throwback: A coup d’etat before Christmas

Posted on December 04, 2014

“It’s really difficult to coordinate things with all the [government and rebel] units. That’s why we’re in a load of shit.”

Rebel soldiers cross EDSA from the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati City, which was taken over by anti-government troops. See more photos.

Then-Tourism Undersecretary Rafael M. Alunan III was forced to make that remark, quoted in a December 6, 1989 BusinessWorld report, days after the government failed to make any headway in releasing 2,500 foreign tourists who were trapped in Makati City. At that time, the Philippines’ financial district was overrun by 400 rebel soldiers that sought to overthrow the government of President Corazon C. Aquino. The three-day putsch--the sixth against Mrs. Aquino’s government--killed 100, caused stock brokerage firms to lose P8.5 million a day, and prompted authorities to disallow banks from withdrawing more than P200 million daily from central bank reserves. Advertising agencies reported to have lost P15 million a day in foregone revenues after radio and television stations were forced to temporarily shutter operations after these were taken over by putschists. A state of national emergency was declared days later, allowing the government to take over businesses that served public interest.