Prologue: The Smoking Gun: Chemical Manila

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Smoke blown from the thick cigar between the lips of the general wafted around, like the lingering feelings of resentment that emanated around the conversation. The general was far from being at a retirable age, but the weariness in his eyes and the wrinkles on his body told of a spiritual exhaustion beyond belief.

Across the table, a younger man with a press badge and bloodshot eyes resisted an urge to cough. On his hand is a small tickler notebook where his right hand scribbled madly, in a desperate fashion. "So," the reporter spoke, "you're saying that you know the real reason why on the twenty second of February, 1984, the regime was finally able to uncover Rebolusyon ng Alyansang Makabayan's plot to oust Marcos?"

The general nodded. He answered with a raspy voice. "The stakes were high for both sides, and between us and them was a secret that could turn the tide of the struggle. Neither the RAM or the dogs of Marcos would like the public to ever know about it, so in the event, the story revolving that aspect of the revolution was kept secret."

"The secret?" the reporter asked like a child on Christmas morning.

"The intelligence officers from within the RAM, they knew something was up at the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant right from the start. There was more to the project than it being overbudgeted, undersupervised, and unusually militarized. To those in the know, Marcos had meant for it to be that way - as to why, that was the question everybody was left to ask.

What we knew was that there was something else being developed there. The fact that the amount of resources being funneled into the place doubled, tripled, at the height of the rumors of the Sabah invasion's Jabidah incident led us to think it was a weapons research program. Funds were coming in from the president's own coffers, some of them even reportedly from the amassed gold from Yamashitaƃ¢€™s plunders, and until we knew what was going on there, we could not hope to bring Marcos down."

The fists of the general clenched as he bit on his cigar. The reporter stopped writing. "The Sabah Invasion, you say? You mean Operation Merdeka? If I remember it correctly it was a move to destabilize Sabah using trained Muslim commandos as a prelude to going to war with Malaysia over the territory. In the late sixties, the commandos rebelled when they couldn't stand what was going to happen and the higher ups of the military had them liquidated in Corregidor Island. As far as I know, after that, the Marcos government junked Operation Merdeka."

"Mistakes happened, but it seems the government had other ideas than to just forget about the islands. Either way, we had to know for ourselves what was going on. On the night of the 21st, we sent our black ops to investigate the plant. I'm the last living member of the support group of the unit that went inside."
"And then what did you see inside the plant?"

"The plant itself was heavily guarded but with our skilled troops, we managed to get in effortlessly. Once inside, evidence of human experimentation started showing up. Far from being just a nuclear power plant, sections of the place looked like a genetic laboratory, with specimens in stasis with overgrown muscular structures and menacing looks. We discovered that BNPP was in fact a cover for a research program for creating enhanced soldiers - not too different from Stalin's genetic experiments during the Second World War. All I was able to catch was something about the Tabon Man gene, of which I have no idea about even to this day."

The reported could barely mask the shock on his face as he stood aghast. The general smiled a bit. The secret had stayed hidden for so long he'd almost forgotten how much of a surprise it must be to somebody in the dark about the true "peaceful revolution." He slipped back into his seat before continuing.

"We tried to gather as much information as we could, but a firefight broke out in the plant. Those outside heard loud explosions coming from inside afterward and communications with our lead unit was broken. I supervised the retreat of the remaining units - the ones that went in never came back out, and soon the central building of the plant was in flames."

"What happened to the laboratory you discovered? Was there any information that you could have kept on record?" the reported leaned forward, as though trying to elude an imaginary eavesdropper.

The general sighed. "A good number of our comrades died that night, the price we had to pay for the destruction of the laboratory. Unfortunately for us, nobody survived among those who witnessed the place first hand or gathered documents. However - "


"As I was the point man for the retreat, I trained my rifle's scope at the exit points. I thought I saw a man carrying a briefcase and a baby amidst the smoke and confusion. No, I'm pretty sure even now that it was in fact a man. I could not get a clear identification if it was friend or foe, so I hesitated."

"So you're claiming somebody survived the explosion and that person possibly has information on the secret of the nuclear power plant?"

"Yes. Of course, I couldn't tell anybody about the plant, even more so about how I let a survivor leave. It would bother our comrades, and we'll be spending unnecessary resources looking for him, and possibly endangering our lives further in the process."

The reporter finally closed his notebook. "The following day, the government started the crackdown on the RAM, Enrile and Ramos turned coat, and the people started gathering in EDSA, making the revolution public, ushering the People Power Revolt and the rest, they say, is history.

Meanwhile, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was deemed too dangerous to use and remained inoperable by the new administration, as you claim, as it probably was mean to be like that.

As for the events that happened that night, none of it ever leaked outside the military, leaving unsung heroes and forever changing the face of the so-called bloodless revolution. If I'm not mistaken, this story could possibly be the story of the century."

The general guffawed. "It seems you have researched this topic pretty quickly beforehand. I almost forgot to thank you for coming on such a short notice. "

A resigned expression permeated from the reporter's face. "I'm only interested in making sure everything that happened is in my notes. I take pride in my thoroughness."

"I feel like a burden has been lifted now knowing the people will know of the bravery of my comrades.They may finally rest at ease."

The reporter stood up. "Perhaps we misunderstood each other, sir General."

He pulled out a silenced pistol and unerringly pulled the trigger on the General's forehead. The general did not even see it coming. A moment later, he was dead, blood and brain pouring out of a wide exit wound where the lower half of the man's head used to be. The crimson stain slowly pooled into the wooden floor of the room.

"Loose lips sinks ships, General."

The smoke steadily cleared as the reported opened the door of the apartment and walked out into broad daylight. He tugged the press badge out of his neck and threw it on the creek just beside the street along with the smoking gun.

End chapter.

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