MANILA, Philippines?Twenty years ago, he took part in one of the coup attempts, the bloodiest of them all, to unseat then President Corazon Aquino, the nation?s first woman leader who swept away a dictator in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
Now, detained Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, regrets never having the chance to meet and shake the hands of the woman who ?braved the dark of the night? and heeded his call for a peaceful protest in 2006.
Over the years, Querubin said he learned to admire Aquino?s bravery and courage, even up to her final moments early Saturday morning when the former President succumbed to colon cancer.
?It is no secret that I was one of those who led the coup against her administration in 1989 and I am glad that 20 years then, the wounds brought about by that exercise have begun to heal,? Querubin said through his spokesperson, Martin Loon, Sunday.
?At this time of national grief, and in her honor, I give my former Commander in Chief my snappy salute. Farewell, Mrs. President,? Querubin said.
He said he wanted to personally thank Aquino for responding to his call for a peaceful protest during the Marine standoff at the Fort Bonifacio in 2006 but he never got the chance to do so.
Aquino had wanted to join the nuns and the people gathered in prayer near the Marine headquarters at that time but was stopped about a kilometer away by a police barricade.
?It is my regret that I never had the chance to meet her personally or even just shake her hands in this lifetime,? said Querubin, who is detained at Camp Aguinaldo for alleged involvement in plots to unseat President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo three years ago.
Expressions of gratitude
Small expressions of gratitude had come in the form of a bouquet of yellow flowers and a message of prayer that Querubin sent Aquino on Mother?s Day in May, wishing for her recovery, Loon told the Inquirer.
But instead of sending flowers to Aquino?s wake at the La Salle Green Hills gymnasium in Mandaluyong City, Querubin said his wife Pong and three boys would show his support to the former leader?s family in his behalf. His children dropped by La Salle on Saturday night while his wife personally conveyed his condolences Sunday night.
Loon also said Querubin had the opportunity to make a phone call to Sen. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III on Saturday night to extend his sympathy to the family.
Young Officers Union
The bemedalled Marine officer was among the leaders of the Young Officers Union that staged the December 1989 coup attempt where 50 soldiers and civilians were killed and 570 others wounded.
Then a captain, Querubin was among those who laid siege on the military?s general headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo.
He was detained in the coup aftermath but was released and allowed to return to the military service in 1995 after the government granted a general amnesty to all coup plotters, including the leader of the 1989 coup, then Lt. Col. Gregorio Honasan.
It was in his ?uneasy history? with Aquino that another detained military officer, Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, realized her ?sterling qualities? as the nation?s leader, he said.
In a short statement sent to the Inquirer Sunday night, Lim described Aquino as a woman who had ?quiet but steadfast faith in God? and conveyed a ?simple yet powerful message of hope to a nation she led.?
Lim, like Querubin, was a captain when he led young officers in the 1989 coup.
?We may have lost her physical presence but never her spirit?the same spirit that now lives within you and me,? said Lim, who is detained at Camp Crame for allegedly taking part in plots to overthrow Ms Arroyo in 2006.
?To our people, while we grieve her passing, it is incumbent upon us to preserve the freedom which her husband, Ninoy, had purchased with his blood and the blood of thousands of Filipinos, and which Tita Cory had spent her life nurturing,? he added.
His family and the Magdalo, a group of soldiers that tried to stage two mutinies against the Arroyo administration in 2003 and 2006, were one with the entire nation in mourning Aquino?s death, Lim said.