MANILA - Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Archbishop Socrates Villegas believes there was divine intervention in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

Villegas, in an interview with Tina Monzon-Palma on ANC, said the late Jaime Cardinal Sin held met with theologians and professors to prepare for any possible scenario prior to the four-day uprising.

However, none of the scenarios they prepared for happened.

"[Cardinal Sin] he did not like to be confronted with a scenario that he was not prepared for. If there would be violence, if there would be cheating, there would be demonstrations, if there would be a rebellion, what would be the church's position? And he studied these possible scenarios, and applying moral principles, applying the teachings contained in the bible. But when EDSA 1986 broke out, none of the scenarios we studied came about. And looking back, I will say that EDSA 1986 was really written by an invisible hand from heaven -- by God -- and it was not a fruit of human planning but it is really divine intervention for a nation that calls upon the name of Lord," Villegas said.

According to Villegas, Sin and his auxiliary bishops were aware of possible rebellion or unrest at that time, as some people informed the Cardinal of what they are planning. He also knew that the possible unrest would be violent, and will be contrary to Church teachings.

"I remember people coming to Villa San Miguel confidentially talking to Cardinal Sin about what they were planning, about possible rebellion or unrest that might happen in the philippines because of the snap elections. And they projected that there would be cheating. I remember Cardinal Sin telling me that one general came to him, saying that something was being planned. And he himself expressed that it might be violent, and it will be certainly contrary to Church teachings and contrary to the mind of the Lord. But eventually he said, 'General, you do what you're supposed to do, and I will do what I'm supposed to do. And if God will see it, we will be together,'" he said.

Villegas also added that Cardinal Sin was not aware that then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and then Philippine Constabulary Chief Fidel V. Ramos would turn against President Ferdinand Marcos.

"The breakaway of Sec. Enrile and Gen. Ramos was unexpected from the point of view of Cardinal Sin, or from the point of view of the Church. It seems Cardinal Sin and the bishops did not have any information that things would turn out that way, that we would have to call on the people to defend them because they were encamped at Camp Crame, Camp Aguinaldo. We did not think of that. We did not consider that. It seems he was not informed about it. In fact, on February 22nd, after ordaining priests from the Ateneo, and when we came home and we heard about Minister Enrile and Gen. Ramos defecting from Marcos, his first reaction was 'Let us wait, let us check from other sources because we are not sure if this is authentic or this is another show, sarsuela, moro-moro of Marcos,'" he narrated.

Military takeover

Villegas believes that what Enrile and Ramos did in 1986 was part of a planned military takeover, which did not push through due to divine intervention.

"They were planning a military takeover. That's my conclusion 30 years later. But even the plan for a military takeover did not take place, for me as a priest, because of divine intervention. It was not... well, in a way God wrote straight in the crooked lines of ambitious military people, or fearful military personnel. They were fearing for their lives. But in the end, god used this so-called impure motive to turn it around and use it as an instrument for peaceful social change for the people," he added.

Villegas also believes that the proposal to have former President Corazon Aquino take her oath as President inside the military camp was part of the plan.

"From Cardinal Sin, he told me that there was a proposal for President Aquino to take her oath inside the camp. But she was advised to take it, to make her oath at Club Filipino -- a civilian territory -- because it is the people who put her in office, not the military."

"So from that incident alone, we can conclude that, at that point, there were already signs that the military wanted to put somebody in office. But the military did not succeed, because it was the people who put President Aquino in office. And proof of that is she did not assume office from a military camp, but from a restaurant," Villegas added.

Cardinal Sin was also not aware of the planned military takeover, which means that the support the Church gave the military during the People Power Revolution was consistent with Church teachings.

"We did not know. It was just living day by day a dangerous life, a very stressful life, but it was just living day by day. And when Cardinal Sin called on the people to protect Gen. Ramos and Minister Enrile, it was still consistent with Church teaching. They might be killed. There might be a massacre. Even if there are only two who might be killed, we should save the lives of two people. So it was not a support for military takeover, but it was an appeal for the protection of human life that was at risk," Villegas said.

EDSA and the Church

For Villegas, the story of the EDSA People Power Revolution cannot be separated from Filipino religiosity.

"You must understand that I'm a priest and because I am a priest, I have a bias. We cannot tell the story of EDSA separated from God. We cannot tell the story of EDSA separate from Filipino religiosity. We cannot tell the story of EDSA separated from Cardinal Sin. The images of Our Lady of Fatima were all over EDSA. The nuns stopped the tanks with their bare hands, and we put the flowers coming from Our Lady of La Naval into the muzzles of the guns and the tanks. This is Filipino religiosity, and you would not be able to understand the story of EDSA if you separate it from Filipino piety, Filipino religiosity, and even from the Catholic faith," he said.

He added that the youth should learn the lessons of EDSA, especially devotion for both God and country.

"Now, for our young people, I think the big lesson of EDSA is your devotion to God should not be separated from your love of country. If you say you love God, you must also love your country. If you say, 'Thank God I'm a Christian,' in the same breath you must be able to say 'Thank God I'm a Filipino,' because being a Filipino is a grace from God. And our being Catholics, our being Christians, our being believers in Christ would be sorely deficient if you would not be socially involved," Villegas also said.

Thirty years after the EDSA uprising, Villegas said he sees an abuse of freedom and democracy, which are the legacies of the 1986 People Power Revolution.

"There is freedom of speech, but there is too much freedom of speech that we no longer care about the rights of others. There is freedom to engage in business, but there is too much freedom to engage in business that we do not even mind our national income cascading to the poor. That is responsible freedom. When God gives you freedom to generate money in business, God also gives you the duty to make sure that the resources are shared. When God gives you freedom to express yourself, God also gives you the duty to respect the rights of other people for a good name," he said.

"Because when you steal P20, you cannot be forgiven unless you return it. But if you steal somebody's reputation, if you steal somebody's good name in the name of freedom of speech, how can you restore that? The name is destroyed. The integrity is destroyed, and maliciously. So I think the big gift of EDSA is freedom and democracy. And 30 years later, EDSA challenges us to use freedom responsibly. Freedom is not about you. Freedom is to be lived for the sake of others. In the Church, we say 'common good.' when the common good is forgotten in the name of freedom, then it becomes licentiousness," Villegas also said.