Walkout – 9th February 1986

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Ferdinand Marcos (1917-1989) was dictator of the Republic of the Philippines from 1972 until 1986. His authoritarian regime is remembered for its rampant corruption at the highest levels of government and its suppression of political dissent and the democratic process.

In a gamble to regain some political legitimacy after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, and to secure continued U.S.support for his regime, Marcos announced that a snap presidential election would be held on 7th of February 1986. Marcos fully expected to win the election, considering his well-oiled political machine and the divided nature of the opposition. But Cardinal Sin arranged an opposition alliance, convincing Corazon Aquino (Ninoy’s wife) to run for president..

Linda Kapunan headed one of the teams from the National Computer Center given the task of developing a tabulation system for the election. They worked furiously to complete the system in the limited time available before the election.

On the day of the election they had their system set up in the National Tally Room at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). As the results appeared from their computer system they were relayed to others for posting up on the public tally boards for the media people and everyone to see. They began to notice irregularities, and it soon became apparent that there was a serious discrepancy between the numbers coming out of their system and the numbers being made public.

Linda was among the group who secretly met at one of the conference rooms in PICC to discuss the matter, and decided they did not want to be part of the deception. But what could they do about it? After much soul-searching they decided the only action they could take was to walk out. So this they did on the 9th of February, in front of foreign observers and media from the Philippines and the United States.

Their action was the first clear evidence of what most suspected: the election was corrupt.  US Senator John Kerry who was then in Manila as an observer called it “the smoking gun.” It was a catalyst for rising public anger against the dictator. Marcos was calling for their arrest and was no stranger to eliminating threats. So Linda and 34 others went into hiding while Kriscia and Khristinn were sent to Davao.

Nevertheless, Marcos was declared as the winner by the Batasang Pambansa (Philippine Congress), but due to the reports of fraud, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a statement condemning the elections.

What followed was a remarkable revolution which became known as EDSA.

Twenty years on, the book “Heroes” was published, commemorating 20 heroes of the struggle against Marcos. One of the twenty was Linda and the walkout group.

(Extracts from Microsoft Encarta, INQ7.net and Wikipedia)

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