A. Analysis and Findings
In the section that follows, we seek to present the findings of the Commission, as
well as the inferences and possible insights that appear to be derivable from the events of
27 July 2003 at Oakwood. The over-arching theme is the distinction that, the
Commission believes, must be drawn between, on the one hand, the objectives which the
Magdalo group sought to realize by going to Oakwood — that is, the forcible seizure of
power and the overthrow of the existing Government — from, on the other hand, the
grievances and the complaints the existence of which constituted the proffered
justification for their attempt to seize control of government by force of arms. The
Commission believes that the mutiny had been planned and was not spontaneous and
that it was part of a larger plan to achieve political change by military force. At the
same time, it will be seen from Part Two of this report that some of the grievances given
expression by the rebels at Oakwood, although utilized by them to radicalize soldiers and
young officers and to recruit adherents to “Oplan Andres,” are to a substantial degree real, and not merely fictitious. Finally, those grievances are not unique to the military
but rather reflect insistent demands for reform made by practically all sectors of our
society. The total picture is, indeed, a complex one and the challenges inherent therein
1. The Mutiny was Planned and not “Spontaneous”
a. The rebel group did not take control of Oakwood only to air their
grievances nor was the incident “spontaneous”. Facts gathered by the Commission point
to the political goal of taking power by the Magdalo group and the establishment of a
fifteen (15)-member council after the restoration of former President Estrada to the
Presidency for three (3) days only. By early 2003, it was clear that recruitment
conducted by the rebel leaders exploited the soldiers’ legitimate grievances against the
AFP, for which Honasan’s NRP was the purported sole solution. The “Last Revolution”
stressed that since the incumbents in the Government and senior military officers would
not give up power voluntarily, they would have to be removed by force.
b. The fact that groups identified with Honasan (Diablo and PGBI) and
Estrada (PMAP and DEMOKRASYA) were apparently part of the support group for a
planned replication of “people power” further indicates the political character of the
incident. They attempted to mass at the EDSA Shrine and to go to the Oakwood area, but
were prevented from doing so by the Government’s blocking forces.
c. That the event was not “spontaneous” is strongly indicated by several
factual circumstances, including: (1) the wide recruitment of military personnel, which
had begun months before the mutiny at gripe sessions at which the bloodletting rite and
the oath of loyalty were undertaken by each recruit; (2) the purchase of uniforms and
combat boots, rebel flags, and arm bands utilized at Oakwood; (3) the provision to the
rebels of backpacks that must have been purchased ahead of time; (4) the purchase of expensive communications equipment and vehicles that were later recovered at
Oakwood and various other places by the authorities; (5) the reservation for Gambala
under the name of George Uy for 19-28 July at Oakwood, and his actual occupation of
the room where he was visited by Trillanes on 24 July; (6) the rebels’ use of two staging
points in Dasmarinas Village and Mandaluyong City; and (7) the prepositioning of rebel
vehicles in the armories of Fort San Felipe and Sangley Point at Naval Base Cavite.
d. The discovery of the plot prompted the rebel group to implement Plan
Charlie and stage the Oakwood occupation as soon as the President ordered the arrest of
the leaders in the evening of 26 July.
2. Discovery and Pre-emption
a. The fortuitous scheduling of the coup attempt close to the President’ s third
SONA scheduled for 28 July 2003, helped in the timely adoption of countermeasures to
avert the plot. Security arrangements for the SONA probably helped Government forces
such as TF Libra under Abu and TF Ayala under Teodosio prepare the countermeasures
actually adopted during the Oakwood incident.
b. However, the Government authorities failed to prevent the Marines from
Ternate, Cavite from moving to Oakwood despite intelligence reports about them.
Neither did the authorities succeed in preventing the rebels from occupying Oakwood.
Since Oakwood was a “ soft target” and prematurely committing Government troops in
the area could expose the “ hard targets” such as Malacanang Palace, military camps, and
television and radio stations that are more critical to the survival of the Government, the
authorities continued to watch troop movements and opted not to deny Oakwood to the
rebels. Hitting the “ hard targets,” according to Plans Alpha and Bravo, was apparently
premised on the achievement of the goals of a wider and larger recruitment of rebel troops and civilian components of the plot. As this did not materialize due to the early
discovery of the plot, Plan Charlie was activated.
c. The rebels failed to elicit significant support especially from the senior
officers in the military. Thus, the Oakwood coup attempt is the first one in the country’ s
history that had been led by junior officers. This suggests (1) a breakdown in the chain
of command that the leaders themselves referred to, (2) alienation of the Magdalo group
from their senior officers, which may reflect sentiments shared by other junior officers in
the AFP, and (3) a general decline of professionalism in the AFP officer corps.
d. The rebel leaders, it appears, also miscalculated the state of public
sentiment or opinion as they failed to draw civilian support from sources other than the
PGBI, Diablo, PMAP, and DEMOKRASYA.
3. Demands and Grievances
The grievances aired by the rebels referred to the RSBS, the military
procurement system, particularly the practice of “conversion”,
the transfer of arms and ammunition to unauthorized parties, and
anomalies in the construction and repair of various facilities at
Marine Base Cavite.