#Journeyto30 Collision course
Epi Fabonan III (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Physics has shown that this statement is paradoxical. If an unstoppable force exists, there cannot be an immovable object and vice versa.

History has shown too that there are no unstoppable forces and immovable objects. One classic example is the collision of oil tanker MT Vector and interisland ferry MV Doña Paz, as shown in
the Dec. 22, 1987 issue of The Philippine STAR. At the time, official figures from Sulpicio Lines and
the Philippine Coast Guard placed the death toll to at least 1,480. But survivors also claim that the ferry was overloaded, carrying at least 3,000 to 4,000 passengers. An official inquiry in 1999 estimated the death toll to be 4,386, making it the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in history.

Had it not been for the negligence of the ferry’s captain and crew, MV Doña Paz would have made it to Manila instead of colliding with the oil tanker. Such vessels are not immovable; such accidents are not unstoppable and could have been prevented.

The unstoppable force/immovable object paradox has become a stock phrase for describing any conflict between particularly strong or particularly stubborn individuals. And 1987 is replete with such conflicts.

On January 22, 1987, around 10,000–15,000 members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) marched to Malacañang Palace to demand genuine agrarian reform from the Cory Aquino administration. At the foot of Mendiola Bridge, the farmers clashed with anti-riot police and soldiers.Tensions rose and the phalanx of soldiers and policemen were breached. Stones were hurled, shots were fired, and explosions were heard. The ensuing clashresulted in the death of 14 farmers.

Barely a week after the so-called Mendiola Massacre, another conflict sparked — this time, between government military forces and rebel soldiers loyal to the Marcos regime. The rebel soldiers occupied the compound of GMA Network Channel 7 and the headquarters of the 15th Strike Wing of the Philippine Air Force in Sangley Point, Cavite. Mutineers also assaulted Villamor Air Base in Pasay resulting in the death of one rebel soldier and 16 injuries. The rebels, led by Col. Oscar Canlas said their mutiny is to an effort to make Filipinos “more aware of the growing menace of communism” in the country.

But the January Plot pales in comparison to the scale and casualties of the August 1987 Coup. The August 28–29 mutiny, launched by members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) led by Col. Gregorio Honasan, posed a serious threat to the Aquino administration. Coordinated assaults on Malacañang Palace, Camp Aguinaldo, Villamor Air Base, various television stations, and military camps in Pampanga and Cebu resulted in 53 fatalities and 200 injuries. Among the injured back then was current President Benigno Aquino III. However, the two-day coup attempt was foiled on its second day — with Honasan evading arrest and becoming the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

Indeed, 1987 was a year filled with various collision courses between seemingly unstoppable forces and immovable objects that could’ve been prevented otherwise.

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