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EDSA People Power Revolution

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The Philippines was praised worldwide in 1986, when the so-called bloodless revolution erupted, called EDSA People Power’s Revolution. February 25, 1986 marked a significant national event that has been engraved in the hearts and minds of every Filipino. This part of Philippine history gives us a strong sense of pride especially that other nations had attempted to emulate what we have shown the world of the true power ofdemocracy. The true empowerment of democracy was exhibited in EDSA by its successful efforts to oust a tyrant by a demonstration without tolerance for violence and bloodshed.

Prayers and rosaries strengthened by faith were the only weapons that the Filipinos used to recover their freedom from President Ferdinand Marcos’s iron hands.

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The Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) stretches 54 kilometers, where the peaceful demonstration was held on that fateful day. It was a day that gathered all Filipinos in unity with courage and faith to prevail democracy in the country. It was the power of the people, who assembled in EDSA, that restored the democratic Philippines, ending the oppressive Marcos regime.

Hence, it came to be known as the EDSA People Power’s Revolution.

The revolution was a result of the long oppressed freedom and the life threatening abuses executed by the Marcos government to cite several events like human rights violation since the tyrannical Martial LawProclamation in 1972. In the years that followed Martial Law started the suppressive and abusive years–incidents of assassination were rampant, particularly those who opposed the government, individuals and companies alike were subdued. The Filipinos reached the height of their patience when former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Sr. was shot and killed at the airport in August 21, 1983, upon his return to the Philippines from exile in the United States. Aquino’s death marked the day that Filipinos learned to fight. His
grieving wife, Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino showed the Filipinos and the world the strength and courage to claim back the democracy that Ferdinand Marcos arrested for his personal caprice. Considering the depressing economy of the country, Ninoy’s death further intensified the contained resentment of the Filipinos. In the efforts to win back his popularity among the people, Marcos held a snap presidential election in February 7, 1986, where he was confronted with a strong and potent opposition, Corazon Aquino. It was the most corrupt and deceitful election held in the Philippine history. There was an evident trace of electoral fraud as the tally of votes were declared with discrepancy between the official count by the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) and the count of NAMFREL (National Movement for Free Elections). Such blatant corruption in that election was the final straw of tolerance by the Filipinos of the Marcos regime. The demonstration started to break in the cry fordemocracy and the demand to oust Marcos from his seat at Malacañang Palace. The revolt commenced when Marcos’ Defense MinisterJuan Ponce Enrile and the Armed Forces Vice-Chief of Staff command of Fidel V. Ramos, both withdrew their support from the government and called upon the resignation of then President Marcos. They responsibly barricaded Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldoand had their troops ready to combat against possible armed attack organized by Marcos and his troops. The Catholic Church represented by Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin along with the priests and nuns called for the support of all Filipinos who believed indemocracy. Radyo Veritas aired the message of Cardinal Sin that summoned thousands of Filipinos to march the street of EDSA. It was an empowering demonstration that aimed to succeed peacefully with the intervention of faith. Nuns kneeled in front of tanks with rosaries in their hands and uttering their prayers.

With the power of prayers, the armed marine troops under the command of Marcos withdrew from the site. Celebrities expressed their support putting up a presentation to showcase the injustices and the anomalies carried out by the Marcos administration. Finally, in the morning of February 25, 1986, Corazon Aquino took the presidential oath of office, administered by the Supreme Court Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee at Club Filipino located in San Juan. Aquino was proclaimed as the 11th President of the Republic of the Philippines. She was the first lady president of the country. People rejoiced over their victory proving the success of the EDSA People’s Power Revolution, the historic peaceful demonstration. Although in 2001, there was an attempt to revive People Power in the efforts to oust then President Joseph Estrada, it was not as strong as the glorifying demonstration in 1986. The bloodless, People Power Revolution in EDSA renewed the power of the people, strengthened the meaning of democracy and restored the democratic institutions of government. Continue to the 5th Republic (1986) up to the Present Time. Fifth Republic (1986–Present Time)

The world’s eye was on the Philippines after it successfully toppled down almost a decade of dictatorship rule through a peaceful demonstration tagged as the EDSA People’s Power Revolution. After the widowed wife of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Sr. was elected into office, President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino faced both economic and political problems of the country. Her rule as president began on February 25, 1986 after taking oath at the Club Filipino in San Juan, Metro Manila. She was the 11th president of the Philippines and the first woman to become president of the country. She was tasked to put together a nation devastated by the rule of her predecessor Ferdinand E. Marcos. It was not an easy task since the country’s economic condition was in its worse state since 1982. Filipinos living below the poverty line is alarmingly increasing in number. Aquino also struggled with Marcos’ supporters in the Armed Forces of the Philippines who attempted to remove her from power. The group of soldiers, who called themselves members of the ‘Reform the Armed Forces Movement’ or RAM, staged seven coup attempts against the Aquino administration. The attack held in August 28, 1987, which killed at least 53 people and injured more than 200 others, was the most serious attack the government experienced.

These attacks worsened the economic condition of the Philippines as investors became wary about Aquino’s ability to rebuild the country. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the United States also forced the government to fulfill its obligations to pay an estimated $27.2 billion worth of debt Aquino inherited from the previous administration. To be eligible for IMF’s rehabilitation programs, Aquino instigated reforms towards a freer economy. These reforms ended monopolization of the agricultural industry of the country, reduced tariffs and lifted import controls in the Philippines.

The political condition of the country at that time did not look any better. To resolve the issue, Aquino commissioned a referendum that would be the framework for the new government. It tackled various issues from shifting the government from presidential to parliamentary, to economic reforms involving foreign participations. Due to its immediate necessity, details of the referendum were left to the legislature to determine. Released in February 1987, the new charter easily won the approval of the public.

The rule that followed Aquino’s presidency established steadier governance of the Philippines. Fidel V. Ramos took office in 1992 and immediately worked on the country’s recovery. Ramos initiated the Social Reform Agenda or SRA that was geared towards alleviatingpoverty. The Gross National Product reached an average of 5 percent annually, which translated to a growth in the average family income of the Filipinos. He undertook the implementation of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) law which improved public infrastructure and deregulated several industries to help liberalize the economy. The country also saw improvements in its relations to secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MNLF as Ramos achieved a peace agreement with the group. Ramos bagged the first UNESCO Peace Award yet given to an Asian for this effort. He also came to be known as the ‘Centennial’ President for his successful supervision of the 100th anniversary of the country’s independence from the Spanish rule celebrated in June 12, 1998.

A film actor, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, succeeded Ramos as president in 1998. He was the previous mayor in the municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila and vice president of Ramos, Estrada was placed into office by a wide margin of vote. He gained support in the election for his promise to begin a pro-poor administration that his predecessors failed to promote in their respective platforms. This support dwindled down as his administration was rattled by corruption. Critics accused him of failing to live up to his promises due to the resurfacing of cronyism in the government. Efforts made by Ramos to resolve political conflicts in Mindanao were also threatened as Estrada launched an all-out war against the Islamic group in Mindanao called the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in March 21, 2000. In the same year, Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson accused Estrada of receiving Php 400 million from him as payoff from illegal gambling profits. The revelation led to Estrada’s impeachment in November 12, 2000 and his ouster from presidency in January 20, 2001. Then Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. swore-in vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as president the same day.

The Philippine Constitution allows the president to ran for a second term if he/she was sworn into office by succession and served in less than 4 years, otherwise the president is limited to one term of office. Arroyo was qualified to ran for another term. Indeed, she did. In the 2004 Philippine General Election, Arroyo declared her presidential candidacy and she was seated into office for the second time. Arroyo promoted a “Stronger Republic” under her rule, which was geared toward vigorous economic reforms. However, her administration was bombarded with several controversies and impeachment attempts in the last five years. Hence, as she announced her disinterest to extend her term or run for office in the 2010 elections, critics expressed their apprehensions. Once, Arroyo had broken the people’s trust when she declared that she was not interested to run in the 2004 elections.

Protesters express their disappointment every so often rallying at the streets calling against the Charter Change (Cha-Cha) and now the Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), which is currently promoted by the Arroyo’s supporters in Congress when the Cha-Cha attempt has become improbable receiving critical disapproval. The representatives in the lower house of Congress were said to have made the move independently to pass the Con-Ass however, many are skeptic of the true agenda of the Arroyo administration as the 2010 election countdown nears. Supporters of Arroyo are pushing for a change of government from a Presidential to a Parliamentary form. This will enable Arroyo run for parliament and become prime minister.

On the May 10, 2010 general elections, Arroyo run and won for congresswoman for the 2nd district of Pampanga province. Making her the first president to hold a lower office after occupying the highest office of the land. On her first day as congresswoman, Arroyo filed a resolution calling for Congress to hold a Constitutional Convention to amend the constitution.

On June 30, 2010, Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, a.k.a Noynoy Aquino, was proclaimed as president of the republic together with Jejomar Cabauatan Binay as vice-president.

  • 1965 – Ferdinand E. Marcos is elected by a big majority as president.
  • 1972 – Martial Law was declared by President Marcos.
  • 1981 – Marcos lifts Martial Law.
  • 1983 – Opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino returns from exile and is assassinated on arrival at Manila International Airport; Aquino’s widow Corazon leads the “People Power” protest movement.
  • 1986 – Marcos was declared winner in a presidential election beating Corazon Aquino amid charges of fraud; demonstrations erupt; Marcos flees to Hawaii; Aquino is declared president and forms a new government.
  • 1992 – Endorsed by Aquino, her Secretary of Defense Gen. Fidel Ramos wins presidential election. U.S. Philippine congress rejects a new treaty with the U.S. and Subic Bay naval base and Clark Air Field returns to Philippine government, ending American military presence in the Philippines.
  • 1996 – The government of Ramos agrees to greater autonomy for southern island of Mindanao. Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) ends the guerrilla war with the government.
  • 1997 – Asian financial crisis grips Asia and the Philippines escapes the crisis despite series of currency devaluations.
  • 1998 – Former movie actor Joseph Estrada is elected president.
  • 2000 – On charges of corruption, the lower house impeach Estrada.
  • 2001 – Estrada was forced to step down due to public outrage over corruption allegations. Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumes the presidency.
  • 2004 – Presidential election takes place. Arroyo’s closest rival (a dear friend of Ex-President Estrada) is film actor Fernando Poe, Jr. Arroyo narrowly defeats Poe, taking 39.5% of the vote to Poe’s 36.6%.
  • 2005 – A taped conversation between President Arroyo & an election official surfaced during the 2004 elections implying she influenced the official election results. Calls for her resignation and demonstrations followed soon after. In September 2005, Congress voted down the filing of an impeachment against Arroyo.
  • 2007 – Former President Joseph Estrada is convicted of plunder, the first ever in the history of the Philippines.
  • 2010 – First automated national elections in the Philippines.
  • 2010 – Benigno “Noynoy” Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III wins the Presidential elections and sworn in at Manila’s Rizal Park on June 30, 2010.

The Philippine EDSA Revolutions: Reinterpreting the Filipino Psyche By: Rene R. Calandria Philippine history embraces manifold influence in terms of social, cultural and political developments, notwithstanding the spiritual contribution from the Spanish regime. Socially, the ancestral natives of the Philippines may describe as a community of inhabitants under the familiarity known as “survival of the fittest” 1 scheme. Filipinos have learned to live in accord with the needs of acceptability and conformity under the standard norms of society. Culturally, they were living alongside with the traditions and customs inherently part of their social order or acquired from a series of colonization by super powers.

Politically, the Filipino society have grown matured enough having been influenced by the gains of independence granted by the Americans during the Commonwealth period. Thus, to sum it up all, every development in national welfare growth, spelled out significant political dimensions among the Filipinos way of life. Need not to mention, the gradual evolution of Philippine government owing to the fact that they had been placed under the control of foreign countries for a great period had brought a considerable high level of political preference among the Filipino people as to the good if not best form of political society. The conversion period from one form of government to another caused by revolution 2 or in Philippine case, colonization of another power 3 , or the transition era of one power to change anew to further strengthen their hold of authority 4 made up the political culture of Filipinos in this perspective. By comparing the status quo to the previously established governments, the Filipino people have come to realized what makes a government and for what purpose the government should be established. Obviously, in this scheme, the people tend to favor the one from which they will benefit more. Amidst this entire political scenario are the combating influences triggered by those who introduce the idea or by faction who support the idea believing that they will gain something by promoting such 5 . This, in as much as Filipino tradition is concern, guided them in establishing way to their own political identity than totally adopting that of others. History will proved that the conglomeration of all these influences and maneuvering political culture leads the Filipino people to seek for an ideal society- a government that will deliver the basic needs of the people. Philippine Democracy for instance, was established not through a single event in their political history.

It was developed through a considerable series of political phenomenon that shaped their political milieu 6 . Philippine Democracy has been considered as the most widely accepted form of government in the country in spite of the existence of the prominent and outstanding political groups leaning to the left of the Philippine political spectrum 7 . Nevertheless, this democracy was and still is in the gradual evolution of its development. In addition, the strict essence of “rule of majority- which is largely based on numbers” is no longer considered as the only framework of Philippine society. Influential minority group can likewise introduce changes in society by appealing to the commanding majority who best can work and who best can serve. Recent phenomena in Philippine political arena showed that there are other factors that could affect so much the trend of a particular social and political milieu. Revolution, which has been widely considered manifestation of people demanding for freedom and political equality in the medieval Europe, proved to be an effective way in arousing key persons in government to initiate change.

In the 20 th century, it has been recognized as one of the most effective way to overthrow a tyrant, Philippine case is no exemption. Furthermore, it serves to note, that Philippines have shown to the world that political revolution is indeed a practice of democracy. Among the revolutions launch in the Philippine archipelago, it was the so-called EDSA Revolutions

8 also known as People Power that stand out. What is more interesting about Philippine EDSA revolutions is the fact that, unlike French, English or American Revolution, it shed not a single drop of blood. The purpose of this paper is to enumerate and chronicle the events that lead to the success of Philippine EDSA Revolutions. It seeks to established facts that EDSA Revolutions were stirred not only by the inevitable demands of time, but primarily by the inherent political culture that lies in the distinct Filipino psyche. To this date, there were two successful EDSA revolutions launched in the Philippine soil. The first and the most outstanding was during the administration of the late strongman Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. This event is generally known as revolt of the masses because it was participated by the common tao in support to the failed coup d’ etatinitiated by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Deputy Chief of Staff Fidel Valdez Ramos. The second successful EDSA revolution was during the term of Joseph Ejercito Estrada which was instigated by mostly elite group and was supported by the persuaded masses

These two episodes in Philippine political history were grounded in the very heart of Filipino political culture- a creation of Filipino socio-political consciousness. EDSA Revolution I Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was elected president of the Philippines, defeating Diosdado Macapagal by a slim margin on the 1965 presidential election. He was to serve a four-year term as provided in the 1935 Philippine Constitution

By 1969, Marcos won his second term as president of the republic. In June, 1970, the Constitutional Convention began to rewrite the 1935 Constitution. This constitution was later ratified by Citizen’s Assembly and declared legal by the Supreme Court. In August, Plaza Miranda was bombed, and several stalwarts of the opposition were injured. Marcos blamed the Communists and suspended the writ of habeas corpus

He accused Aquino and other oppositionists of arming the NPA. On September 22, 1972, Marcos staged a violent ambush of Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile’s car and then declared martial law. During martial law, it would appear like the Philippines had established a new society, free from crimes, from immorality and from corruption. However, in the latter mid years of martial law era, collapse of the basic foundation of democracy was evident. Corruption is conspicuous, human right violation is everywhere and the economy was breaking up. It is interesting to note that earlier, in 1981, Marcos appointed Fabian Ver, head of National Intelligence and Security Agency and the Presidential Security Command, as chief of staff of the Armed Forces, bypassing Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos. The following year, Enrile received reports that there was a plan to eliminate him and the Ministry of National Defense. These series of events may somewhat explain why Enrile and Ramos asked Marcos to resign as early as 1983 and even planned a coup d’etat by 1985. The popularity of Marcos was waning, and the situation was made worst when the leader of the opposition- Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. To counter the flow of wave against him, Marcos called for snap election. Cory Aquino, the widow of Ninoy, decided to run in the presidential election under LABAN. The Philippine election of 1985 was stained by massive fraud. The COMELEC declared Marcos winner while the National Movement for Free Election (NAMFREL) declared that it was Aquino.

This political scenario motivated Aquino to protest the alleged massive cheating. She launched her campaign of civil disobedience to show people’s disappointment to the government run by Marcos. On the part of Enrile, his coup plan leaked and was brought to the attention of the president. Ferdinand Marcos immediately order the arrest of the coup plotters who had no other choice but to have their final stand at the Camp Aguinaldo which had been siege by them earlier. Later, Enrile ordered Honasan to deploy the fully armed troops not only around Camp Aguinaldo but also around Camp Crame, headquarters of the Constabulary and the National Police, forces sympathetic to RAM . Thinking that Marcos would eventually arrest all the coup plotters which is synonymous to their untimely death, Enrile called Jaime Cardinal Sin for any possible help. Sin did what he thought his part: he went on Radio Veritas asking the people to support Enrile and Ramos, he even asked the people to send food to these “two friends.”

After hearing Cardinal Sin over Radio Veritas, people in nearby areas went to Edsa. They stayed there to protect and support the rebel group against the soldiers of Ferdinand Marcos. For four days, people from all parts of Metro Manila joined the campaign of the rebel soldiers. Finally, when Ferdinand Marcos realized that there is no way to save his government, he decided to step down. Five US helicopters were utilized. Marcos and the First Family was moved out from the palace on the 25 th of February 1986, for the Filipino people and to the whole of the world, it was a successful bloodless revolution. EDSA Revolution II In the May, 1998 election, Joseph Ejercito Estrada was elected President of the Philippine Republic. Some (10) million Filipinos voted for him believing he would rescue them from life’s adversity. From the beginning of his term, however, Estrada was plagued by a plethora of problems that slowly but surely eroded his popularity.

His sharp descent from power started on October, 2000 when Ilocos Sur Governor, Luis “Chavit” Singson, a longtime friend of the Estrada, went on air and accused the president, his family and friends of receiving millions of pesos from jueteng lords. The exposé immediately ignited reactions of rage. Then Senate President Franklin Drilon, summoned the Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committee on Justice for joint investigation. The House of Representatives did no less. The House Committee on Public Order and Security decided to investigate the exposé of Governor Singson. On the other hand, Representatives Heherson Alvarez, Ernesto Herrera and Michael Defensor spearheaded the move to impeach Estrada. Calls for the resignation of President Estrada filled the air. Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin issued a pastoral statement in behalf of the Presbyterian Council of the Archdiocese of Manila, asking Estrada to step down from the presidency as he had lost the moral authority to govern. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, former presidents Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and Fidel Valdez Ramos joined the cry for the resignation of the president. On the month of November, in a tumultuous session the Lower House transmitted the Articles of Impeachment signed by 115 representatives, or more than 1/3 of all the members of the House of Representatives to the Senate. On November 20, the Senate formally opened the impeachment trial of the petitioner. Twenty-one (21) senators took their oath as judges with Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., presiding. On the early part of December, the impeachment trial started. The battle royale was fought by some of the marquee names in the legal profession. Its high and low points were the constant conversational piece of the chattering classes.

Then came the fateful day of January 16, when by a vote of 11-10 the senator-judges ruled against the opening of the second envelop which allegedly contained evidence showing that Estrada held P3.3 billion in a secret bank account under the name “Jose Velarde.” The public and private prosecutors walked out in protest of the ruling. By midnight, thousands had assembled at the EDSA Shrine and speeches full of sulphur were delivered against Estrada and the eleven (11) senators. January 18 saw the high velocity intensification of the call for president’s resignation. A 10-kilometer line of people holding lighted candles formed a human chain from the Ninoy Aquino Monument on Ayala Avenue in Makati City to the EDSA Shrine to symbolize the people’s solidarity in demanding Estrada’s resignation. Students and teachers walked out of their classes in Metro Manila to show their concordance. Speakers in the continuing rallies at the EDSA Shrine, all masters of the physics of persuasion, attracted more and more people.

The next day, the fall from power of Joseph Estrada appeared inevitable. At noon, he agreed to the holding of a snap election for President where he would not be a candidate. It did not diffuse the growing crisis. The Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police announce their withdrawal of support to the government. Rallies for the resignation of the Estrada exploded in various parts of the country. January 20 turned to be the day of surrender. At about 12:00 noon, Chief Justice Davide administered the oath to then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as President of the Philippines. Hours later, Estrada and his family hurriedly left Malacañang Palace. (Joseph Estrada vs Aniano Desierto, G.R. NOS. 146710-15, 2001) In the eyes of million of Filipinos and foreign spectators, the crisis had finally ended. Immediately after this political tumult, cases were filed at the Office of the Ombudsman against Estrada. The Filipino people once more proved to the world that the sovereign power still rests at the hands of the people. The EDSA Revolution II, practically speaking was a success. Post Analysis Among the minds of political scientists are questions related to the primary and other possible causes of the two EDSA revolutions. Observers are bewildered by the pattern of events and contributing factors that lead to the formidable launching of the two bloodless revolutions. Interestingly, these two political phenomena can be compared almost at all aspect of their respective scenario including the involve institutions as well as personalities.

People Power I and II were both launched in Epifanio De Los Reyes Avenue, popularly known as EDSA. Both lasted four days. Major players in EDSA I were Cardinal Sin, Cory Aquino, Fidel Valdez Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile, they were all against the president. This cluster of players is the same with EDSA II, the difference is that Enrile this time stood on the side of the president. Radyo Bandido 15 was the only media option during the first people power; it was a competition for a number of radio and T.V. stations to cover EDSA II such as GMA, ABS CBN, IBC, and Radio Veritas. In EDSA I, popularity of Imelda’s thousand pairs of shoes was one of the issues raised; it was multimillion-peso mansions for Estrada’s mistresses in EDSA II. More than these, participation of military, media, church and business sectors which stirred the political culture of this nation made the comparison of the two people power fascinating and appealing. It is therefore necessary that a thorough analysis of these factors should be considered. Role of the Military If there is one secret in the Filipino achievement in forging notable episodes in history, it is to be found in the critical considerations on the aggressive attitude of people in dealing with the call of necessity for their welfare interest. This part will discuss the vital role of AFP in the Philippine Edsa Revolution especially during the 1986 people power. Between Edsa I and II, the former was participated at large by the military.

The role of military in Edsa II came up only after the defection of prominent figures from the government of Estrada. The AFP withdrew their support from the government only when they realized that it is somewhat too late to save the government from a certain political tumult. Need not to say, the Edsa II revolution was initiated by the people and was later on joined by the military. Simply put it, military had played a vital role in Edsa I than that of Edsa II. It is therefore interesting to note that the military’s actions in Edsa I stirred up the behavior of the Filipino people to bring down the government while the military simply protected the people from the possible harm of the tumult. The 1986 Edsa Revolution became an imprint of history where the civilians felt and realized how a coup plot would find its success or come to a doom. Now a senator, Juan Ponce Enrile, was then the Secretary of the Department of National Defense during the Marcos regime. As DND Secretary, Enrile’s role could be gleaned as the action man of the president in terms of maintaining peace and order including national security and, therefore, clothed with political authority to give instructions/ orders to the uniformed hierarchy officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

As history puts it, the Edsa I revolution sprouted from no less a person in uniform who happened to be the most trusted ally of Secretary Enrile – Col. Gringo Honasan, now a senator-elect and will be serving his second term in the senate. But the Edsa I revolution did not take place without its root cause of event. “Enough is enough” was the answer of Secretary Enrile to a phone call by Marcos handpicked AFP Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver. Understandably, Enrile said “enough” in reference to the 20-year reign of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, more evidently characterized by military-inspired violations of human rights, dirty electoral processes and the assassination the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Here, it will uncover the big role of the AFP in that history-revealing 1986 Edsa revolution. At first, Enrile knew just too well that plotting a coup against an incumbent powerful president like Ferdinand Marcos need a clean-cut strategy. Thus, Enrile did convened his three known principled youthful colonels in the military, namely: Gringo Honasan, Eduardo Kapunan and Victor Batac. Col. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan was an officer whose relationship with the defense minister had been described as “closer than father and son.”

As seasoned military officers, the three Enrile’s hatch men had each a designated task in the coup plot. Honasan and his commandos would break into the Malacañang Palace to effect the arrest of Marcos and his First Lady, Imelda. Col. Kapunan’s role was to avail of his force in setting series of massive explosions near Malacañang armories, signaling those rebel battalions to move in with reinforcements. Col. Batac stood as, the contact arm with the different anti-Marcos groups, Military or civilians. As it turned, then Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, upon the invitation of Secretary Enrile, readily signified his readiness to join and fight for the good cause behind the coup plot. It may be noted that aside from being the Vice AFP Chief of General Ver, Ramos is also a cousin of the late dictator Marcos. Knowing Ramos’ influential control over the well meaning careered AFP officers, Enrile counted much on the latter’s capability to put into action their coup plot, this time with a nationwide support base from regional commands, courtesy of Fidel Ramos. Surprisingly, Malacañang Palace took all of Enrile-Ramos moves for granted, perhaps, all too believing that AFP Chief Ver had still, indeed, full control of the AFP hierarchy from the north to south of the archipelago.

Meanwhile, all intelligence service networks, foreign diplomats’ factual observation included, point to the fact that Marcos, in fact and indeed, had become what General Ramos described as “flip-flopped” president, referring to the fast dwindling national economy, severely increasing unemployment rate, flagrant human right violation, assassination of opposition leader and then too recent national election that was glaringly marred by poll fraud, manipulated counting of election returns and unwanted disappearance of opposition characters. There have been scene-by-scene account of the Edsa I revolution and the aforementioned role events played by principled AFP officials could well be attributed as the key men in the coup plot. As one may have to understand, it is the President of the Republic who enjoys the power of the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. Thus how can any civilian official or officials ever dare take the lead to a coup and become a coup plotter unarmed to match the mighty weaponry of the military. With that note, and as in similar coup attempts fought and won in Iraq and Thailand in the past, coup plots stem from the military ranks as, ironically, member of the armed forces under a commander-in-chief who is no less the president. Interestingly now, as the 1986 Edsa Revolution proved successful to the cause of freedom-loving people, the Armed Forces of the Philippines had proven more than just protecting the lives and properties of the Filipinos or securing the national integrity, rather, the AFP had played its avowed role in having initiated the coup plot thus caused the 1986 revolution. In any interpretation, the AFP played the role of people’s protector against any threat on national interest.

In the case of the Edsa I revolution, the AFP was responsible as the key player in restoring back to the rightful citizenry the lost but truly cherished democracy from Marcos dictatorship. Role of the Church It was earlier pointed out how the men in uniform (AFP) did play their role in the Edsa I revolution. There was rather a deliberate reason of the author for having failed to mention the equally significant role contributed by the religious sectors. Did the church participate, directly or indirectly, in the 1986 coup plot drawn by then National Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile? In a strict sense, no member of the church, or in any religious congregation, took part in the coup plot even from its earliest to its later stage. Simply put, only Sec. Enrile and his trusted uniformed officers in the AFP initiated and finalized the coup plot that was later supported increasingly by Gen. Fidel Ramos. No priest, no nun, no pastor and no Imam were ever involved in the planning of coup d’ etat. What, therefore, was the role played by the church in the Edsa I revolution? The chronological sequences of events would show that the involvement of the church led by no less Jaime Cardinal Sin and later followed by Bishop Bacani and the priests and nuns had its turn only after when Enrile and Ramos, in a T.V. interview earnestly called for support to their cause.

The call for support from the church hierarchy and other congregation was followed by Corazon Aquino, who was then sheltered for security at the Assumption Convent in Cebu. Ramos wife, Ming, also made a constant call at known church leaders and sought help to support Ramos and Enrile. In no time wasted, Cardinal Sin was heard over Radio Veritas asking the Christian flocks to gather together at the Camp Crame vicinity to give support, if not protection, to the Enrile-Ramos-led forces who were then steadfastly implanted to secure the two coup leaders. As reported, there were originally 380 armed AFP men manning Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo all too courageous enough to give meaning to what Enrile told TV viewers earlier: “We are ready to die if this is the only way to put an end to dictatorship.” Back to the church’ role, the influence of the religious leaders after so short a call for support by Cardinal Sin, it was almost unbelievable that in no less than 24 hours after Cardinal Sin’s call, there were no less than 12,000 church followers along the Edsa-Camp Crame gate. The number of Edsa I sympathizers surged to even a kilometer long of estimated 50, 000 Filipinos, all echoing the leaders demand: “Marcos Resign.” Yet, the church participation was not limited to mere announcements for support. The priests, nuns and even hundreds of seminarians took turns in leading rosary and non-stop prayers focused on earnest longing that God forbids a bloody consequence of the too serious scenario. Speaking of scenarios that sprang from the 1986 revolution, one documented scene was the approaching armor car of the military that no one knew whether it was a deployment from Marcos loyalist or the rebel side. With three machine guns mounted atop the armored vehicle, the thick of sympathizers along Edsa had to play safe by squeezing themselves by the roadside to give way to the roaring weapon car.

Just undaunted and firm, and to people’s awed eyes, more than a dozen of priests and nuns laid flat across the whole lane of Edsa, signaling their readiness to die under the steel-wheeled armored vehicle in exchange of the people’s cause to righteousness and freedom. In Edsa II, the church, specifically Cardinal Sin did no less. They join the people in their quest to oust Estrada. They had established their side on the grounds that Estrada had lost his moral ascendancy to govern. They capitalized the involvement of Estrada in illegal gambling and the president’s alleged multiple families to pin down his leadership. The Filipino people, religious as they are, strengthened their belief that what they were doing was morally, socially and politically righteous. When they forced Estrada to get down, they were thinking of the ailing effect of Estrada’s disgraceful and unchristian way of living to the economic and political condition of the country. This insight was further intensified by the church’s compelling and persuasive argument that God was on their side in ousting a corrupt president. All too long to enumerate, the role played by the Church can be best described as an indispensable element of relief support to the coup attempt players.

Thus, strictly told, the church gave their share of history in even the 1986 and 2001 Edsa revolutions through the unfaltering Christian faith of the Filipino people. Role of Media The 1986 Edsa revolution was a long-time product of rage gradually triggered by media that reveal to the Filipino public the scenario in the national level. National news like the assassination of Ninoy Aquino stimulated the feeling of oppression among the Filipino people. However, since media was controlled by Ferdinand Marcos, terrible and appalling news of like this was never linked directly to the responsibility of the president. Though it established influence to the people in certain degree, the effect of propagating news through the use of media was never felt with fervor and passion during the time of Ferdinand Marcos owing to the condition of the time caused by the political scheme of Marcos himself. The media scenario in Edsa II was entirely different.

There were number of media gadgets used beyond the conception of the people during Edsa I. For instance, according to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, during the height of a series of expose about Estrada’s connection to illegal gambling and his accumulation of illicit wealth which rocked the presidency, the mobile phone became a subversive weapon. People used text messages 16 to mobilize rallies, spread the latest news or rumor about presidential indiscretions, and raise awareness of how the impeachment trial was being compromised. Email and the Web were also the weapons of protest. As many as 200 anti-Erap websites and about 100 e-mail groups were set up during that period. Organized groups used e-mail to discuss position papers, reach a consensus on issues and mobilize numbers for rallies. The Internet was a bridge that linked protesters in the provinces, Metro Manila and even overseas.

The Web played host to satire, polemical tracts, even virtual rallies. (A Scrapbook About Edsa 2, 2001) While the established media were initially restrained in their reporting on Estrada, in part because the president had vented his ire on critical media outlets, many news organizations became emboldened enough by the anger on the streets to print or air damning exposes. The Pinoy Times, a feisty tabloid that specialized in presidential scandal, became an overnight sensation. Even the traditionally cautious public affairs programs on television began treading on what used to be forbidden ground. (Ibid) From December 2000 to January 2001, television played a major role by beaming the impeachment trial live to an unprecedented audience. On the night of January 16, 2000, when the majority of senators voted against the opening of an envelope containing bank records 17 that would incriminate Estrada, citizens were outraged. Many of them- as much as 86 percent of those in Metro Manila, according to one survey- were watching television that night. Within an hour after the trial ended at about 10p.m., hundreds were out on the streets to protest the vote. By midnight, thousands had gathered at Edsa. Many of them had rushed there after receiving text messages calling on citizens to keep vigil at the site of the 1986 people power revolt.

The next four days, the media helped the spirit of protest alive. Edsa 2 was truly a multimedia revolt. People came armed with cell phones. They kept track of events through text messages and radio broadcasts. Those who stayed home read newspapers, watched television or listened to the radio. The mainstream media enjoyed unprecedented sales. Websites were reporting on events in real time, so even those who were abroad could keep track of events as they unfolded. (Ibid) Role of the Business Sector There actually exists another factor that contributed largely to the successful culmination of both Edsa I in 1986 and the 2001 Edsa revolution. This is the active participation by the business sector whose way of life depends greatly on the economic and political stability of the government. No investor/ capitalist would simply sit over a national leadership in the government with uncertain direction and no known economic program thrust sound enough to sustain their business interest. In the Edsa I revolution, for instance, the business circle did not provide weaponry as the way the military forces did; neither the businessmen offered rosary beads and prayers for the coup plotters.

The contribution clearly manifested by those in the business groups constituted the much needed supply of food and water to those directly engaged in the coup d’etat. Some businessmen provided the transportation facilities and communication gadgets. In the case of Edsa II, however, it was more of the true essence of “People Power as confirmed by notable circumstances exhibited by coup initiators belonging to the civilians, prominently influenced by the business sector in Edsa II marked a big difference with Edsa I, in the sense that the coup movers were relatively free in exposing their grievances against the administration, thus, through their financial capabilities, they were able to move with ease in mobilizing manpower, printing of protest materials and support resources. Post-EDSA Analysis Pondering upon the circumstances that prevailed in both Edsa I and Edsa II revolutions, there could be deduced understanding of the Filipino psyche in terms of cultivating history of national interest. In the case of Edsa I revolution, the Filipinos knew then that under the dictatorship of President Marcos, there can only be stretching of people’s tolerance and remain tightlipped. However, once given the opportunity to act and react, as in the case of military-led coup d’etat and strongly backed up by church and business sector, the Filipino in general would not hesitate to get into action for a good and reasonable cause. In this case (Edsa I), the Filipino people proved their preference of democracy over dictatorship. Secondly, the Filipino people reject abusive leadership in the government. Edsa II revolution, on the other hand, still proves the same familiar tendency to act collectively in defense of reasonable cause. In this case (Edsa II), people revolted against Pres. Joseph Estrada, not for his dictatorial tendencies, but for lack of sound economic reforms confronting peril to the business sector.

Furthermore, the elite civil groups, just as the common “tao” fairly deserve a more decent and honorable national leadership, something the Filipinos did not realize in President Estrada’s leadership which was more tainted by corruption, immorality and illegal gambling. Thus, impeachment toppled down Estrada’s incumbency. To sum it up, therefore, the Filipinos would always use “people power” against evil and injustice in the government system. It may not be in the form of revolution but in any way that will manifest their sovereign power in the realms of politics, society and economy. End Notes 1- According to Constantino, the Filipino people have had the misfortune of being liberated four times during their entire history. The first among these was through the Spaniards who liberated them from the “enslavement of the devil” and of course, from primitivism. Accordingly, Filipinos before the coming of the conqueror had lived in the primitive state of nature developed later on by the formation of baranggay system. Nonetheless, the period during before that is somewhat primeval. They lived life based on the basic needs of their being part of the nature.

Those who were capable managed to co-exist with his environment. 2- From the government controlled by the Spanish oppressor, the KKK (Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan) launched an independent government aiming to overthrow Spanish government through revolution. On June 23, 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo, upon the advice of Mabini, issued a decree changing the form of government to a revolutionary one as demanded by time. 3- The primordial barangay system in the Philippines was change to a semi-feudal upon the coming of the Spaniards. Democratic government was introduced to the Filipinos during the American colonization. 4- Before the Spaniards totally lost its control and influence over the Filipinos, they circulated a handbill entitled Viva la Autonomia! In which they stated that the “salvation of the unity of the islands, the unity of its liberties, and the unity of its local and central government” lay with Spain. 5- In the field of politics, power is being fought first in the realm of political thoughts.

The conservatives who support the status quo primarily because their power depends largely upon it and the radical who wished to change the condition thinking that by promoting such they will finally hold power or will gain something from it. 6- Philippine Democracy is a product of series of political phenomena, the idea was somewhat introduce to them by the opening of the Philippines to the liberal ideas from Europe during the 19 th century. Among these were those of Rousseau and Locke who both believe that revolution is necessary and right of the people if they find that the government is no longer capable of serving them. The coming of Americans and the Philippines experience under the Japanese government during World War II until the liberation shaped and develop their idea of government, thus, their concept of democracy. 7- In the Philippines, the communist idea was introduce to the general masses during the time of Ferdinand Marcos when Jose Maria Sison among others founded the Communist Party of the Philippines. It aimed to abolish the democratic government and to establish a communist regime. 8- The People Power Revolution also known as EDSA Revolution was named after the avenue where it was held- the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. For the life of the man, read Santiago, 1995, p.63. 9- The Philippine first EDSA revolution was launched by the people from the lowest part of the social pyramid. The oppression widely felt by the commoners motivated them to oust the president. 10- In Philippine EDSA Revolution II, the event was headed by people from the elite group triggered by the realization that Estrada’s stay in power has an ill effect in the country’s economy.

Their campaign against the president make the people from the lower class realized later the need for a new government. 11- As provided in the 1935 Philippine Constitution, the president- elect shall serve for a term of four years but allowed for reelection. The 1987 constitution provides for a six-year term but do not allowed reelection. 12- In front of Quiapo church where rally, gathering, assembly and other public meetings were held during the Marcos regime. The Plaza Miranda bombing was the so-called bomb explosion in this place while the opposition team was having their “meeting de avance” 13- Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, the wirt of habeas corpus shall extend to all cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, or by which the rightful custody of any person is with held from the person entitled thereto. (Organista, p.186) 14- RAM- Reform the Armed Forces Movement was establish by Lt. Col. Gringo Honasan and four others. With Enrile’s blessings, Honasan built up their armory and expanded their base. 15- When Radio Veritas signal died down they used the old DZRJ station under the code Radyo Bandido. 16- The government of Estrada as well as the very person of the president himself had been attacked by destructive text messages in form of jokes. Before the people power II, Erap jokes were the every subjects of SMS jokes. 17- The envelop was opened after the successful Edsa II only to find documents that can never be used against Estrada.

References

  1. Agoncillo, Teodoro; History of the Filipino People, 8 th ed. , Garotech Pub., 1990
  2. Alberto S. Abeleda Jr.; A Journey into the past, a history of the Philippines. Classroom Publications Inc., 1998
  3. Amando Doronila; Between Fires, Fifteen Perspective on the Estrada Crisis, 2001
  4. Bacani, Teodoro Jr.; Church in Politics. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University, 2002
  5. Bautista, Maria Cynthia Rose; The Revenge of the Elite on the Masses. Quezon City,Philippines, 2001
  6. Berkley G. and Rouse J.; The Craft of Public Administration 7 th ed. , Brown and Benchmark, USA, 1997.
  7. Calhoun C. et al.: Sociology 6 th ed. ; McGrawhill, USA, 1994.
  8. Carter, Jimmy; Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President . Toronto and New York., 1982
  9. Constantino, Renato; The Philippines: A Past Revisited, Vol. 1, R. Constantino, Manila, Philippines, 1975
  10. De Torre, Joseph M.; Politics and the Church. Manila, 1997
  11. Diokno, Maria Serena ed.; Democracy and Citizenship in Filipino Political Culture ; Third Worl Studies Center, 1997.
  12. Doronila Ma. Luisa Caniesco: An Overview of Filipino Perspectives on Democracy and Citizenship published in book of Diokno; Democracy and Citizenship in Filipino Political Culture , The Third World Studies Center, 1997.
  13. Fabros Rev. Fr., Wilfredo; The Church and Its Social Involvement in the Philippines . Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1999
  14. G.R. NOS. 146710-15; Joseph Estrada vs. Aniano Desierto, March 2, 2001
  15. Henslin J.: Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach; Simon and Schuster Inc, USA, 1993.
  16. Hunt Chester et al; Sociology in the Philippine Setting revised edition Phoenix Publishing House, 1973.
  17. Hunt C. et al.; Sociology in the Philippine Setting 5 th ed., SIBS Pub. House Inc., Quezon City, Philippines, 1998
  18. Huntington, Samuel; The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Session and Schuster, Rockefeller Center, 1996
  19. Indolos, M.; The Economics of People Power, New Day Pub. of the Christian Literature, Quezon City, Phil., 1995
  20. Jackson R. and Jackson D.: A Comparative Introduction to Political Science; Prentice-Hall, USA, 1997.

EDSA 1: ‘Magkakapatid Tayo!’

(Homily of His Excellency Most Reverend Ramon C. Arguelles, Archbishop of Lipa during the Mass for the 21 st Anniversary of EDSA1 at the EDSA Shrine on February 25, 2007 at 12 noon.)

It was Sunday, around 11 o’clock, the night of February 23, 1986. With another priest I was walking towards Ortigas Avenue, along EDSA, between the two military camps, on the Aguinaldo side. A large group of tough-looking men, coming from the opposite direction, shouting loud anti-Marcos slogans, saw us and cried out: “Padri, Muslim kami, kristiyano kayo, ngunit magkakapatid tayo, mga Pilipino!” The group had just come from Villa San Miguel to ask the Cardinal to bless their intent to assault Malacañang. Of course, the Cardinal dissuaded them by insisting on the futility and iniquity of violence, and charged them instead to go to EDSA and implore Allah with Christians already gathered there in prayer to plead God to preserve the country from ruin. One excellent way of portraying EDSA1, which remained fixed and fresh all these twenty one years in my mind and heart, was that expression from the band of Muslim warriors:”Magkakapatid tayo, mga Pilipino!” My stories from Mindanao later, as military bishop, allowed me to listen to people recount with nostalgia the pleasant state prevailing in pre-Martial Law days.

Christians and Muslims, they said, used to live side by side in remarkable serenity, neighborly helping one another. Martial law delivered that ‘kapatiran’ a terrible blow. But the “Four Days of Courage”, as the title of the book on EDSA1 by a Canadian author puts it, as battle tested troops swiftly transported from Mindanao, faced with bafflement the harmless crowd in EDSA, those four days of courage demonstrated plainly that the return of peace and brotherhood once reigning among Muslims and Christians was not at all impossible. Those four days indeed, and some time after, saw the world watch the Filipinos with amazement and admiration.

Initially, people everywhere thought they were witnessing a so-called “unarmed revolution,” a first in world history. Soon after, it became more evident that it was a fully armed spontaneous assembly. Sinister and divergent forces were set to take advantage of a highly probable outburst of violence to carry out their own veiled schemes. The most unexpected however happened: the guns remained still, the violence was averted, peace and brotherhood held sway. Miracles can indeed happen – February 1986 was one awe-inspiring miracle – but such cannot be indefinitely stretched. EDSA1, which caught the attention earned the admiration of the whole planet earth, was the quintessence of brotherhood and non-violence. It was without doubt an unusual heavenly visit to our islands intended to give the entire world a timely lesson. What astonished even the godless or irreligious was how, first and foremost, Filipinos fused in prayerful solidarity, so remarkable when the affluent of places like Greenhills and Forbes shared bread with and provided drinks for the destitute of Libis and Tondo, when on a make shift on top of a jeepney, one future senator and cabinet secretary lifted a lowly cigarette and peanut vendor and yelled to the approving crowd: Mabuhay ang tunay naPilipino!” The spectacle in EDSA1 and the prevailing mood evoked the passage from Holy Writ that says: “If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness and the gloom shall become for you midday. Then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails” (Isaiah 58:11). For a fleeting moment this nation indeed saw light rise up in the darkness.

How can one fail to be amazed at the sight of thousands, ten thousands, hundred thousands, doubtless more than a million people processing the Pilgrim Image of Our Lady of Fatima reciting endless rosaries while presenting flowers bewildered fierce-looking, fully armed Marcos soldiers, who nonchalantly bragged that in the combat zones of Southern Philippines, they killed foes as though they merely butcher pigs. Masses in various points, participated piously by the cross-shaped throng along EDSA and Boni Serrano Avenue, drew together in liturgical singing and prayer the multitude comprising Catholics, non-Catholics, even non-Christians, in reverent solidarity. What actually typified EDSA1 and accounted for the quieting down of dreaded instrument of carnage is undeniably that it was an intervention from above answering the collective and humble pleas of the devoted crowd. What went wrong then? What happened to this blessed country that some are compelled to affirm: “the spirit of EDSA is fading” or “the spirit of EDSA is dead”? Some observe that most young people do not really know what actually happened in EDSA1. Or that they care very little because EDSA for them has no relevance at all. In 1986, too, young people were dazed at was going on. They knew no leader other than the late dictator. They could not imagine there could ever be any other. The age group succeeding them, twenty one years after, is also perplexed, but this time by the issue of scores of leaders at variance, having only one thing in common, and that is, they are blown up facsimiles of the one EDSA1 toppled. Some bemoan the thinning of the mass attending EDSA1’s annual celebration. They probably dread more the thinning of the number of believers in the deep significance of EDSA. The question is raised whether the commemoration of EDSA1 has yet any sense. Or has the spirit of EDSA1 died; has it been buried with probably God’s principal promoter in making EDSA part of Philippine history and the history of mankind, the most revered and cherished Jaime Cardinal Sin? How many still remembers the serene voice from a tiny, almost insignificant country in the Pacific realm, that resounded in the entire planet, signaling the victorious quest for freedom? The voice, that in many unmistakable ways has given the Philippines a more prominent place in the world’s saga? Unfortunately, there are always some who would wish that a new Cardinal Sin will rise. Cardinal Sin was no doubt the right person for the right time called by God for a specific purpose. Any attempt to clone him will miserably fail and will only dilute the matchless significance of a remarkable man, besmirch his memory and deprive him of his honored place in history.

Regrettably there are even direct or indirect, conscious of unconscious efforts to show that the late cardinal was wrong all along. While the collective prayer of countless people silenced the guns in 1986, almost immediately thereafter, until the present moment, violence once mire holds sway. People are upset by the eager call to return to arms, when this country was deemed to be the one to attest to the whole world that the sure way to a better future is the road to peace, the road that realizes the biblical announcement: “They shall beat the swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles; one nation shall not raise the sword against another. Nor longer shall they train for war again.” (Isaiah 2:4). Instead the resumption of hostilities rendered the EDSA cry of Muslim brothers a distant, if not a shattered dream: “Padri, Muslim kami, Kristiyano kayo, ngunit magkakapatid tayo, mga Pilipino!” the weapons of hatred have disturbingly dotted all our islands. EDSA1 gave our people and so many others in the world a sense of hope. Now the hope of our country, the hope likewise of other peoples, liberated by following the example set by EDSA1, that hope seems to vanish. Has EDSA1 really become a severe disappointment for the Philippines and for the rest of the world? Among the reasons behind the apparent collapse of the EDSA hope can be the following Early after February 1986, a move to identify the EDSA heroes started. So many declared themselves EDSA heroes, even those who were never among the millions physically present during the four days of courage. A protracted debate on the real heroes resulted. Everyone tries to grab credit for himself.

The most powerful nation in contemporary world, which obviously opposed EDSA1, or did not believe in its spirit, which until now water down its significance, also claims to be the author of EDSA. Happily there are discerning people who would remind everyone that God was the real hero. In those difficult days many felt the verse in Holy Writ taking place in real life: “God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid people, like the wheel-chaired lady raising singly the rosary before the big tank, were ready to die for the country because they believed that God, our savior led them in the fearless struggle to save our nation destruction. The satanic powers of that time hoped to make the Philippines the next display area to display area to test the newly invented, more sophisticated was machines. Heaven intervened and preserved this praying nation. God indeed must be recognized as the only hero. This country was destined to announce to the world that it is only God who truly saves. No one, nothing else is worth trusting. There were indeed outstanding personalities whom the nation will always feel grateful to. Some used to be part of the dreaded regime and at the precise moment sided with the people. They revealed the deceptions of the past and helped the nation to search for the truth that liberates. But the atmosphere of conversion to God and genuine solicitude to the nation easily slid back into selfishness; the pursuit of self-interest prevailed, true welfare of the people was set aside, instant heroes turned perpetual traitors. Many returned to what they were all the while before imminent death and Divine judgment confronted them. EDSA1 was a wonderful occasion to flesh to the words of the Psalm that say: “Some trust in chariots; others, in horses; but we trust in the name of the Lord, our God” (Psalm 20:8). EDSA1 was an experience of utter helplessness. People turned to and trusted only in God. “The Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, our toil and our oppression” (Deuteronomy 26:7). EDSA1 was clearly God’s manner of showing his mercy on people.

The seeming EDSA1 collapse is due also to the nation’s return to trusting the weapons of war as well as the prevalent belief that the nation’s future depends on foreign investments, on financial advancements. These are the chariots and horses of contemporary times to which secular people attribute personal and collective salvation. For a brief moment EDSA1 appeared as the realization of the content of the Magnificat: “(God) has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones, but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty”: (Luke 1:51-53). For an instant indeed, EDSA1 illustrated how the lowly and downtrodden were lifted up and the hungry filled with good things. Such are the true manifestations of the Kingdom of God. Sadly, the observable symptom that show the spirit of EDSA1 gradually discarded is that the downtrodden have become more miserable twenty one years after EDSA1. Farm and fisher folks are being displaced from the place of their livelihood and their original habitat, all in the name of progress.

The attempt to bring the nation better future by giving the poor the capacity to rise from destitution gave way to the profit hungry few who deprive the poor farmers of the last fertile ground their till and the poor fishermen the rich sea where they fish. To earn money purportedly for the country, the post EDSA leaders, ex-heroes turned traitors, have opened Philippine shores to foreign perverts sacrificing the dignity and decency of Filipino womanhood, allowing the sexual assaults on children, and branding the abode and quarters of the rural and urban poor touristic eyesores that need to be wiped out. The government protected materially rich not only close their eyes to the plight of the poor. They want to eliminate poverty by eradicating the poor. The hungry become more numerous as the well-fed continue to feast at the expense of those who have nothing to eat. This land endowed by God with exquisite natural beauty and natural resources is being offered for the exploitation of the foreigners, leaving the local inhabitants poorer than ever. Post EDSA times have not benefited the majority still looking for total freedom. The poor exalted in EDSA1 as the true Filipino has been marginalized more than ever. Treachery to the true ideals had only reduced this nation in all aspects into a situation that brought about the Martial Law regime.

There are countless other factors indicating that EDSA1 was a total disappointment. It is not that EDSA has failed. Many people, including those who arrogantly claim to be the framers of EDSA, ignoring especially the heavenly part that made EDSA what it is, these have failed EDSA. They have even prostituted EDSA. EDSA has never died. It has only been allowed to bloom in the proper way. The EDSA that only God can claim as the source has been snatched by the wrong hands. Just like what the devil insinuated in today’s Gospel, he claims to possess what belongs to God, namely, the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory. That is why at the end of the Lord’s Prayer is said, “For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are Yours now and forever!” EDSA is for God and anything that belongs to God can never experience total collapse. The cry should be: Bring back God to EDSA! Bring EDSA back to God! It can also be said: “Away with the false gods of EDSA. They are anti-God, they are anti-EDSA, they are anti-Filipino. How can EDSA then be remembered in a way that its spirit will continue to inspire the people and lead all to more hopeful future?

Metro Manila, a street that all Filipinos and all humanity will probably never see. The dream to draw great crowds occasionally does not do justice to the EDSA spirit. Again the majority of the Filipino people has never been and will never be able to be in EDSA physically. But the Spirit of EDSA that must spread to all the corners of the country and even of the whole word. EDSA must no be reduced to a mere annual celebration and dramatic reenactment. The spirit of EDS 1 must be lived at all times, in all places in the entire archipelago and beyond.

It is a spirit of love, sharing and solidarity. EDSA has not failed. It must not be allowed to fade. God will not allow EDSA’s true spirit to fail. It is penetrating slowly and must penetrate slowly the lives of our Filipinos and all men and women in the world. 2. EDSA 1 must be first and foremost seen as a Divine experience. God must be acknowledged as the origin, purpose and center of the EDSA phenomenon. An EDSA without God and the Blessed Mother is a caricature. True EDSA is and should always be a prayerful event. But true prayer! Not politicized prayer. 3. EDSA can never be called by politicians, nor military, not even any individual or group. It is not planned. It is clearly a divine surprise, and certainly never a human manipulation and earthly fabrication. 4. True EDSA is giving importance and preference to the weak and the poor. They are the true participants. They many never by the exploited ones. EDSA opposes in fact any exploitation of the poor and the destitute. EDSA is instead their liberation. An EDSA that is intended for the rich and powerful and sustained by them, and used for their purposes is a prostitution of the true spirit of EDSA. It is an offense against God, who is truly the great Benefactor of this event.

EDS being the work of God cannot fail. There are many evil forces that try to deliver a fatal blow to EDSA. God cannot be defeated. God’s work can never fail It is people who fail God. Men and women fail to breathe the true spirit of EDSA, usually because of selfishness and self-love. All can and must be promoters of God-given EDSA spirit which should benefit all, particularly the poor, establish a society of true love that the Philippines demonstrated 21 years ago. AT that time, true EDSA took place because the people prayerfully listened to God’s word through the prophet. “You have already been told what is good, and what Yahweh wants of you; only this, to do what is right and to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). Today it is the 21 st anniversary of EDSA. It is also the 21 st National Migrants Sunday. The Spirit of EDSA is very much alive. It is observed in the sacrifices and the humility of Filipinos overseas. The Filipinos overseas are treated by all regimes since EDSA 1 as an exploited sector. They are no different from the regime EDSA 1 unseated and which betrayed it. They look at the OFWs in terms of dollars, money and remittances, that present corrupt leaders nevertheless misuse at the expense of Filipino tears, perspiration and blood. To those who retain the true EDSA spirit, the OFWs are the bearers of the Divine message which is EDSA to the whole world. Was EDSA 1 not proclaimed rightly by the song, “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo?” The exploiters of fellow Filipinos never sing that song. Indeed the OFWs are the agents of EDSA to the rest of the world. Those in the Philippines who believe with Ninoy that the Filipino is worth dying for, all who believe with Cardinal Sin that this nation is worth living and praying for and that this country has been especially chosen by God, all who are willing to establish a country and a world in solidarity, all these can say with great confidence: EDSA 1 has not failed. God does not give up. God’s people in humility and true love will never be disheartened. What EDSA is is God’s gift, not only to the Filipinos, but to the world. Everyplace in the whole archipelago, even all over the world, should be able to hear the confident shout, ” Magkakapatid tayo!” That sentence is EDSA. THE EDSA I

REPORTING on a national survey done in November 2001 which the author conducted for the UP Center for Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy, this analysis deals with the people’s views and opinions on the nation’s three uprisings at Edsa in Metro Manila since 1986.

In the throes of political turmoil and economic crisis and on the 16th anniversary of the Edsa Revolution in 1986, it is in order to ask what Filipinos know and feel about “people power” and its second and third application since then.

Filipinos know and understand “people power.” The UP national survey we conducted in November 2001 asked what the people, 18 years old and over, understand and feel about the Edsa revolts, “people power” and democracy. To the question, “Do you know or understand the word PEOPLE POWER?” 87.5 percent of the respondents nationwide replied that they “know and understand”; 12.5 percent said they do not. In the National Capital Region (NCR), 99 percent said they know and understand. Those who said they know and understand were 93.3 percent in the rest of Luzon, 71.5 percent in the Visayas, and 82.8 percent in Mindanao. Urban respondents who answered positively were 95.8 percent; and rural ones were 77.4 percent.

Among social classes, 100 percent of ABC respondents, 89 percent of D, and 79 percent of E respondents said they know and understand people power.

Clearly, the great majority of Filipino adults affirm that they know and understand people power. To probe their response, they were asked to agree or disagree with the statement: “True people power is strengthening the political power of the majority of Filipinos.” Nationwide, 71 percent agreed; 19 percent disagreed; 9 percent were undecided. In the NCR, 74 percent agreed. Among the social classes, 75.4 of E respondents, 70.4 percent of D, and 67.3 percent of ABC agreed. More rural respondents agreed (77.4 percent) than urban ones (66.5 percent).

It appears that more lower social class respondents and rural ones understand people power to mean strengthening the political power of the majority of Filipinos, including themselves who have less power and would like to have more power compared to the upper classes and the urban residents.

Next, the respondents were asked their opinion regarding the 1986 Edsa Revolution, the Edsa rally in January 2001, and the Edsa rally and march to Malacañang on May 1, 2001. First, they were asked to agree or disagree with the statement: “True people power refers to the collective effort of citizens, like what they did at Edsa in 1986 when they toppled the Marcos regime.”

Nationwide, 77 percent agreed and 13 percent disagreed, or a margin of plus 64 percent (the difference between agreement and disagreement). In the NCR, 83 percent agreed, 12 percent disagreed. Urban and rural respondents agreed in nearly the same proportions, namely, 78 percent and 76 percent. Among the social classes, agreement was 84 percent of ABC, 77.5 percent of D and 73 percent of E. Evidently, a high proportion of Filipinos associate people power with the collective power of citizens as shown at the Edsa Revolution in 1986.

A clear majority agreed Edsa II was “true people power.”

Compared to the respondents’ strong agreement that the Edsa Revolution in 1986 that toppled Marcos was an example of “true people power,” relatively fewer agreed and relatively more disagreed with the statement: “True people power refers to the collective effort of citizens, like what they did in Edsa in January 2001, when the people forced President Estrada to resign or leave Malacañang.”

Nationwide, 57 percent agreed, 28 percent disagreed, or a margin of 28 percent. In the NCR, 61 percent agreed; in the Visayas, 73 percent, the highest agreement among the three island regions. Significantly, the clear majority who agreed that the ouster or resignation of Estrada was an exercise of “true people power” was double the percentage of those who disagreed. It should also be noted that even among Estrada’s constituency, the D and E classes, 56 percent agreed with the statement, as compared to 63 percent of ABC.

More people disagreed that Edsa III was “true people power.”

How did the respondents agree or disagree to the statement: “True people power refers to the people’s attack at Malacañang on May 1, 2001 to force President Macapagal-Arroyo to leave Malacañang and make Joseph Estrada president again”?

Nationwide, 30 percent agreed that Edsa Tres was “true people power,” while 49 percent disagreed. In the NCR where the event took place, only 27 percent agreed, while 59 percent disagreed. There was also greater disagreement in the urban areas (54 percent) than in the rural areas (44 percent). While a majority disagreed with the statement among the ABC class (58 percent) and the C class (51 percent), less than a majority (41.5 percent) of the D class disagreed and as many as 34 percent or one-third of them agreed that Edsa Tres was “true people power.”

On the whole then, almost 50 percent (nationwide) disagreed that Edsa III was “true people power,” as against one-third who agreed that it was. As much as 59 percent disagreed in the NCR where the people were more aware of the nature of the Edsa rally and the resulting siege on Malacañang.

It may be concluded that to more Filipinos, especially in Metro Manila, and except only in the E class, Edsa III was an organized mob, not a principled revolt. It was seen as a cynical move by a disgraced and repudiated president and his allies and supporters to put him back in power in a hurry after his sudden downfall, despite his betrayal of the people’s trust in the view of many more Filipinos. In desperation over their loss of power, Estrada and his allies were fomenting a class war that pitted “the poor against the rich.” This explosive development provoked soul-searching among the middle and upper classes and the ruling elite.

People power is now part of Filipino political culture and behavior.

Filipinos understand and approve of people power as their spontaneous collective action to take matters into their own hands to force the resignation or ouster of a president whom they judge to be grossly corrupt and abusive of his powers, a traitor to his high office and his country.

“Tama na, sobra na, palitan na!” Through people power, Filipinos are making a moral judgment and meting out a political sentence. However, they also realize that removing a president through people power is an extraordinary act that should not be abused or perverted. The military and the police should not feel that they are the ultimate arbiter between the people and the regime as to the latter’s moral legitimacy and political capacity to govern. Otherwise, democracy would be fatally disabled. The normal constitutional means of changing the president should be observed if our democracy is to be consolidated and institutionalized. Source: 16 February 2002 from the Philippine Daily Inquirer Internet Edition

THE EDSA People Power Revolt hasbeen endlessly written about the past 13 years that there’s hardly anythingleft to be said. Except to remember and be grateful. And, except to wonder over again.

Who can say enough about the wonder that was Edsa? Diverse people and events of those four days in February came together neatly and forcefully to cause the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

The wonder of the mighty Marcos military turning against itself. The
rebellion of the Marcos defense minister and his acting chief of staff to support the civil disobedience launched by the political opposition led by Cory Aquino. Most of all, mass upon mass of people armed only with their faith shielding their once-hated military with their own bodies.

The wonder of an Edsa brimming with the faith of the Filipinos has not receded with time. The wonder is a constant, undiminished even by the shattered dreams of the Filipinos. Their dream to be free was now reality. But as they set his country free so was the machinery of corruption set free and running as it was in the time of tyranny. The Filipinos kicked out the looters of this nation’s wealth only to realize that a new pack of looters had taken over.

At Edsa, Filipinos held the power of the people in their hands. With that awesome power, they rejected the leaders, who had robbed them, betrayed them, tortured and killed those who would not be enslaved.

At Edsa, Filipinos were the masters of their fate. At last, they could believe in a government for the people and by the people. They were sovereign. Next to the dream of freedom, there was this other one. That their leaders elected in a free and honest election, would harken to the people’s mandate. That they would listen. And that they would act quickly according to what the people needed. That they would be true to their oath of office. That they would serve their masters, the people. That was the lesson at Edsa that leaders had to learn from thereon. That was also the dream. It has not happened. Both the learning and the dream.

Filipinos are now free to speak their mind, to air their grievances. But that is about all they have of their four days of courage. That is all they can show for nearly being bombed into kingdom come at Edsa.

The post-Edsa Filipinos now have a voice. But who is listening? But for the periodic elections when politicians are suddenly and suspiciously solicitous and generous, who really cares?

The Filipinos are back exactly to where they were before Edsa: Stuck in poverty and the corruption of their government but, unlike at Edsa, powerless to do anything about it.

To top it all, the Marcoses never left home. Which is the worst post-Edsa scenario imaginable. Only, this is happening right now.

For all the post-Edsa desecrations of the Filipinos’ courage and sacrifice, their dreams and expectations, Edsa is not in ruins. It remains a wonder to behold 13 years later. It has stood as a beacon to oppressed people everywhere from Burma to the former Czechoslovakia to Rumania to South Africa. It continues to burn brightly as an eternal flame to freedom. Edsa is a monument to the best that the Filipino can be.

As wonders go, we can say everything about Edsa and yet nothing. Because wonders can never be fully explained. Because wonders can never be unraveled. To unravel a ball of thread is to discover you’ve lost it.

Let historians then evaluate the context and perspectives of Edsa relative to the development of our nation. Let political experts assess, dissect and perorate on why Edsa failed. Let the ideologues lament that the revolutionary zeal for reforms has fizzled out. That traditional vested interests are back in business as usual. That the political order is out of order. That the national purpose is adrift. That national unity is in tatters. That the Edsa spirit is dead.

All that may be true. But so is this truth: Edsa happened and the Filipino made it happen. No one can diminish Edsa or take it away from the Filipino.

So, let the people rejoice that there ever was an Edsa. Let them sing and dance in the streets in the next four days in celebration of their triumph. Because Edsa was of their very own making. Their finest four days when they decided in Nick Joaquin’s words, ”to have a future again, a tomorrow again, and that we didn’t have to resign ourselves to a numbing prospect of one damnable Marcos after another.”

FOR MORE than a decade now, many Filipinos have trekked to EDSA to commemorate the anniversary of the February 1986 “People Power Revolution,” marking the overthrow of President Marcos’ regime.

This year the customary rituals – ecumenical invocations, on-site masses, eloquent political speeches, martial marches, colorful parades, star-studded shows and other diversionary entertainment – will be performed as before. The celebration will probably take a more subdued tone as the country, as well as the region, reels from the economic slowdown and disruptive challenges to erstwhile secure political orders.

For most people who persist in joining the EDSA celebration, few are inspired to explore its historical or spiritual connotations. It appears sufficient that this historic stretch of the national highway is momentarily transformed into a convenient amusement park.

After all, people who live precariously from moment to moment, as more Filipinos now must, are not inclined to burden themselves contemplating the depressing state of the nation. Better the light entertainment of the moment than the serious reflection which a continuing sense of national purpose and civic responsibility demands.

Yet, amidst today’s celebration of the 1986 People Power Revolution, one really ought to inquire into the meaning of this historic mass action, the original context within which it might be more fully appreciated and the painful but now compelling perspective for assessing the current relevance
of this experience.

In 1986, a critical mass of Filipinos found Marcos and the political order he created sufficiently revolting; and, throwing their support behind a small band of desperate military coup plotters, forced the ailing dictator, his family and his subalterns to flee the country.

The popular revolt succeeded in toppling Marcos’ rule, but lacking a clearly revolutionary ideology, a revolutionary program of government, a revolutionary political leadership and indeed a revolutionary mass base, the rising could not go much beyond ridding the country of the hated Marcos and dismantling the formal political infrastructure of his dictatorship.

The leaders and other supporters of the “people power revolution” could have worked hard to give substance to this media-projected identity. Indeed the momentum of the popular revolt could have been sustained and immediately magnified had a series of progressive government policies been launched and implemented with revolutionary rigor by the successor regime.

These policies included people empowerment particularly at the local level, national unification embracing the traditionally marginalized and even the main rebel groups, recovery of plundered public resources and relentless pursuit of those responsible for the rape of an entire nation across several generations.

The revolutionary possibilities indicated by these early policies of the new government however would remain illusory. Traditional vested interest groups (e.g. landed wealth, those in business and the religious) as well as politicized new players in Philippine politics (e.g. the military) developed more than enough political stakes in the post-Edsa political arrangements and predictably shirked from the revolutionary thrusts of these early policies.

As had happened so often in the history of most nations, collaborationist Philippine elites thought it best to undertake a politics of restoration where their primacy would be guaranteed rather than to assist in the building of a new and, for the historically privileged, a problematic, even outrightly perilous democratic regime. Most leaders of the 1986 revolt understandably settled on the reassuring shores of oligarchic history rather than embark on the uncharted, revolutionary seas searching for the proverbial terra incognita, a conceivably democratic national destiny.

National unification was pursued without any critical attention being paid to what elements could legitimately be included in or excluded from national life. Thus economic plunderers and scoundrels automatically were inserted as integral parts of post-Marcos transition.

It did not matter much, that for more than two decades, they had abused and looted the nation. National reconciliation was similarly uncritically pursued and perpetrators of appalling crimes, including economic brigandage and human rights abuses, were courted without requiring them to undertake significant restitution to the victims of their rapacity while they retained control of government offices at various levels.

No revolutionary possibility could survive amidst policies which glossed over the antithetical character of the nation’s traitors and its patriots, the victimizers and their victims, the plunderers and the plundered.

A nation that is successfully misled by its leaders into adopting this convenient and self-serving ambiguity learns to readily forgive and hence to also easily forget. Without a clear memory, no nation can hope to sustain an irreversible revolution, the only truly reliable path to its deserved destiny.

The historical record since 1986 reflects the implacable effects of reformist policies which do not basically alter the substantive character of Philippine society and its core political system. Economic and political inequities remain at high levels, with poverty engulfing probably more than 6 years percent of the nation’s families (this count is often registered in academic surveys although the government’s own estimates would improve this profile, cutting down the estimated poverty incidence rate to less than 40 percent by 1997).

Despite the much touted improvements in national economic performance particularly between 1992 and 1997, Philippine per capita income remains low in relation to countries like Thailand and Malaysia and only slightly better than Indonesia within the region. Independent surveys also indicate that gains made by the national economy in the last 60 have been largely limited to the better-off and had not significantly trickled down to the poorer Filipinos.

Politically, local governments have gained more autonomy, the oligarchic and dynastic characteristics of the political system continue to be apparent and are documented in various studies looking into electoral financing, candidate profiles and public official pedigrees.

Systemic graft and corruption remain at fairly high levels. Thirteen years after the EDSA Revolution, a new president’s public speeches would continue to denounce routinely “hoodlums in robes” (those in the judiciary), “hoodlums in uniform” (those in the military and the police) as well as all other plain hoodlums in and out of government service. All would be warned in his inaugural address not to test his presidential resolve to combat graft and corruption. (Almost a year into his own presidency, it appears that some of his own close political aides have been hard of hearing at his inauguration).

One could continue documenting the agitating features of Philippine political history after 1986. One could explore the serious challenges of criminality to public safety (with about 40 percent at least of the people feeling unsafe whether in their own homes or in the streets of their own neighborhood), or of dissident groups defying public order (the CPP-NPA-NDF communist threat and the Muslim Islamic Liberation Front) or the politicization of purportedly neutral government institutions such as the judiciary and the military, among others.

All these are painful images of a current reality emphatically belying any claim that a political or socioeconomic revolution was indeed precipitated at EDSA. Yet one more image remains and perhaps it is this one that might serve to sufficiently outrage another critical mass and another generation of Filipinos toward a much more authentic revolutionary awakening.

Criminals do appear to have a compulsion to return to the scene of their crimes. The national plunderers are back in business, in all the influential sectors of Philippine society, in government, the private sector and even in many of the pseudo-organizations of civil society. Their dramatic presence, their predictable forays into the nation’s patrimony and their subsequent arrogant posturings could re-ignite the public’s fading memories of a previous regime’s brutal political repression and tyrannical rule. A better-organized, better-informed and more truly revolutionary consciousness could be facilitated by the resurgence of these people who treated the Philippines as their private looting grounds for more than two decades. Then, like the devil in Goethe’s Faust, they may yet philosophically pronounce when asked for their identity: “I am he who while ever conspiring to do evil somehow manage to effect good.”

The lessons of 1986 and other earlier possible turning points in Philippine history are relatively unambiguous. Revolts do not necessarily make for revolutionary outcomes, at best on for revolutionary potential. In the case of the 1986 Revolution, that potential was aborted. Marcos was deposed as a political ruler, but the political system which spawned him was not irreversibly destroyed and may even now be resurgent.

The final lesson of EDSA has long been suspected by democratic sympathizers, although there have been few validations of their thesis. A democratic revolution cannot be initiated or sustained by self-serving elites. Only an enlightened, self-serving citizenry can reliably initiate and sustain an enduring democracy.

FORMER President Fidel Ramos yesterday urged Filipinos to ”remember the truth” as he denounced the return to power of the very people toppled by the historic 1986 Edsa uprising.

”Today, a number of these people–thanks to our own democratic processes–are back in power, making the decisions that shape our lives,” Ramos told a breakfast forum at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

”The interests they represented are still around. They are enjoying a new-found respectability, and daring even to revise our understanding of what happened in those dark days of dictatorship–to win back, in other words, what they lost to the people in a bloodless revolution.”

The strong words were obviously in reference to cronies of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as well as two of his children, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Imee, who are now Ilocos Norte governor and representative.

Ramos, one of the key figures in the uprising, reminded Filipinos that ”Edsa is a continuing revolution–an unfinished confrontation with the forces of arrogance, greed, oppression and indifference.”

He dared President Estrada and other leaders who did not take part in the uprising to now participate in it by declaring themselves in favor of what the people did then, and promoting what the people had fought for.

”This means taking actions that will enhance rather than restrict our democracy, curbing corruption and cronyism in high places, carrying on with economic liberalization and social reform, and seeing to it that justice is delivered to the long-suffering and powerless,” he said.

”And I mean concrete and decisive action–not just brave words or slogans that may sound good on camera but which very quickly become undone in the real world.”

The statement–made in the wake of reports of corruption in the government–was an apparent reference to Mr. Estrada’s promise that he would go after anyone who violated the law, without favor to his family or friends.

Still, Ramos said he was ”delighted” that the President had ”forthrightly embraced, by his official orders, the concept that Edsa must continue in our lives.”

Opposite Side

Ramos chided those who were claiming to have been part of the revolt but who were actually at the opposite side of the fence. ”Every year, fewer and fewer people come to Edsa itself to commemorate our ‘People Power Revolution.’ This, I suppose, is only to be expected. But also every year, it also seems that more and more people claim to have been at Edsa–or were one with us–in February 1986,” he said.

He said he did not begrudge these people the right to defend themselves and to peddle their own version of history. ”But it is up to us–the people in the street, the pedestrians of the moment–to remember the truth, to recover our senses, to reject falsehood, and to rededicate ourselves to what we
fought for 13 years ago: freedom from the rule of one man, one family, and one coterie of cronies, and the right and the opportunity to grow into the fullness of our nationhood,” he said.

Ramos also said it was not too late for those who stood at the opposite side to renounce despotism. They could still start afresh, ”in union with the awakened masses,” he said.

Nevertheless, Ramos said, there was good reason to commemorate Edsa because, he noted, the Philippines had become Asia’s most vibrant example of a restored and functioning democracy.

”Were it not for Edsa, not many of us would be here today enjoying our liberties.”

‘Only 8 months’

Militant groups also lamented the return to power of the Marcoses and their cronies.

The Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya said it took the President only eight months to set back whatever gains the people may have achieved through the Edsa revolt.

”Mr. Estrada has successfully reinstated the Marcoses and their most rabid cronies (Eduardo) Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan back in power,” said KPD chair Sonia Soto.

She described this year’s commemoration as a ”grand reunion” of Marcos’ monolithic Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, ”to celebrate the successful comeback to the happy days before Edsa.”

Kilusang Mayo Uno chair Crispin Beltran said Filipinos had ”no reason to rejoice” in the commemoration as ”the conditions that pushed the 1986 uprising remain and have even worsened after Marcos.” Citing labor figures,
he said the unemployment rate had gone up to 13.3 percent and that an average of 435 workers were being retrenched daily. ”About 75 percent of the Filipinos still live below the poverty line. The plight of the Filipino masses is worse than before,” he said. Beltran added: ”Now, under Estrada, the Marcoses and their cronies have been fully rehabilitated and allowed to recover their ill-gotten assets.”

No Change

In his homily during an afternoon Mass at the Edsa Shrine, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin breached expectations by not delivering scathing remarks against the Estrada administration or the return to power of the Marcoses and their cronies.

The outspoken Sin even thanked the President ”for declaring this day a national holiday.”

But he observed that 13 years after the revolt, many Filipinos were still impoverished, had no access to decent housing, and were suffering injustice precisely because of their poverty.

He said problems concerning pornography, violence, abuse and exploitation still abounded, and that anti-life and anti-family values continued to threaten the youth.

Yet, Sin reminded Filipinos that they had a collective mission to uphold what was fought for at Edsa, to build a society of peace, progress and justice.

At the House, party list representatives expressed regret over yet unfulfilled ”dreams.”

Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales said that while the uprising brought about ”formal democracy,” this was not enough to satisfy the people’s aspirations for social and economic upliftment. Worse, she said, Edsa’s libertarian ideals were not only forsaken but were also being trampled on by
measures pushed by the Estrada administration.

She said among these were the proposals to scrap the minimum wage, require all taxpayers to disclose their assets and liabilities, relax the rules on warrantless arrest, and suspend workers’ right to strike.

Rosales particularly deplored Malacañang’s proposal to tax the underground economy while offering amnesty to ”big tax evaders like Lucio Tan.”

Sanlakas Rep. Renato Magtubo said farmers had yet to taste whatever gains were made at Edsa. ”To most of them, owning the land their families have tilled for generations remains a dream. And a dream it shall remain with the Estrada administration’s endorsement of stocks distribution and corporate farming,” Magtubo said.

Democracy

Senate President Marcelo Fernan urged Filipinos to preserve the democratic institutions restored after the revolt.

”The Philippines’ post-Edsa experience has shown that economic growth and democracy go hand in hand,” he said in a statement

”It was during (Marcos’) strongman rule that the country lagged behind its neighbors economically.” Fernan also said the uprising ”will forever be the Filipinos’ shining legacy of political awakening for the cause of democracy and freedom.”

But Sen. Teresa Aquino-Oreta said the restoration of democracy would not be complete if most Filipinos remained poor. ”Democracy is meaningless to a person with a grumbling stomach. People will value democracy if they see that it has helped improve their lives,” she said.

With Reports From Gerald G. Lacuarta and Volt Contreras

FOR the past two administrations, the Marcoses were accused of unsurpassed greed, of plunder, and of torture.

How times have changed. These days, the Marcoses are accusing their victims of being too greedy, even of being non-existent.

Ilocos Governor Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday declared that the 1986 EDSA revolt was “no revolution,” but a mere “political power grab.”

The statement came just a day after the country celebrated the 13th anniversary of the EDSA people power uprising that threw the Marcoses out of Malacañang.

At the same time, the younger Marcos brushed off claims for compensation by the 10,000 victims of human rights violation during the Marcos administration, saying “some” of the victims were merely motivated by “greed.”

The younger Marcos even expressed doubts that there were really torture victims during his father’s 21-year reign.

“Some of these people that are claiming they are human rights victims have never been victims of anything except their own greed,” Marcos said in an interview with newsmen in his office at the Ilocos capitol.

The statement was the strongest made by a member of the Marcos family since they were driven out of power by the EDSA revolt. The Marcoses have taken on a higher profile since President Estrada took office last July. Estrada is a
friend of the Marcoses.

No Apologies

Marcos also rejected all calls for an apology from the Marcoses, saying the human rights victims only wanted money, and not an apology.

“It boils down to money. They don’t want an apology, they want money,” Marcos said.

“And I think their true colors are showing because kung mayroong pag-asang magkapera, mag-aaway-away na rin sila,” he added. [If there is a chance to get money, they will fight among themselves.]

He was referring to reports of a feud between Claimants 1081 and the Samahan ng Mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (SELDA). Both groups are composed of victims of human rights violations during the martial law years.

No Victims

“We will apologize if we have done something wrong. We have not even seen that the so-called human rights claimants do actually exist,” Marcos told newsmen.

In 1992, some 10,000 victims of human rights violation filed a class suit against the Marcoses and went on to win in the Hawaii District Court. The victims were awarded $2.2 billion in damages, although they have not yet been paid until now.

More recently, the Marcoses and the government have agreed in principle to set aside one-third of the $580-million Marcos bank accounts now held in escrow at the Philippine National Bank. The amount was formerly part of the Marcos secret bank accounts in Switzerland.

Marcos also belittled the 13th anniversary celebrations of the EDSA revolution last Monday, saying “there was no revolution.”

Instead, he described the people power revolt that ousted his family from Malacañang as “a political power grab.”

“There was no revolution. Revolution is a change in social order. Iyung mga cacique (landlords), cacique pa rin. Iyung mga mahirap, mahirap pa rin.ÊI have always maintained that EDSA is more of a political power grab than an ideological struggle,” he said.

No Velebrations

In Tacloban City, bailiwick of Imelda Marcos, city officials did not celebrate the EDSA people power anniversary. Residents said this was the first time in 13 years that the city did not mark the event.

Mayor Alfredo T. Romualdez, younger brother of Imelda, was unavailable for comment.

But at the provincial capitol, Leyte Gov. Remedios Loreto-Petilla held an EDSA anniversary program “to remind the people that EDSA restored democracy in the country.”

Former city mayor Uldarico E. Mate said Romualdez should have held an EDSA anniversary celebration regardless of his affiliations.

Blind

Human rights groups angrily challenged Marcos’ statements on the victims of martial rule, saying the family was pretending to be blind to history.

Rep. Etta Rosales (Party-List, Sanlakas), a former political detainees and member of Claimants 1081, said Marcos needed a “reality check.”

“It seems he is in a fantasy world,” she said.

“How do you expect the son of a dictator who is like an isolated prince to know reality?” Rosales said.

Karapatan and SELDA executive director Marie Enriquez said, “To hear Bongbong saying this, and Imee, it is revolting and disgusting, the nerve, parang nalimutan na nila na pinaalis sila sa Pilipinas dahil doon sa ginawa nila.”

[It was as if they had forgotten that they were kicked out of thePhilippines because of what they did.]

“It’s like a nightmare, iyung mga pinaalis nandiyan na ulit. This presidency coddled the thieves, the plunderers and human rights violators,” she added.

‘Historic ignoramus’

Rep. Heherson Alvarez, another political detainee, branded Marcos “a historic ignoramus.

SELDA officials added that compensation was not the only demand of the human rights victims. The other demands include an apology, an admission of wrongdoing, and the prosecution of the Marcoses.

Santos Lamban of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) pointed out that the a US court had already awarded $2.2 billion to the 10,000 human rights victim. He said this only showed that the Marcoses were really guilty of human rights abuses.

Better Under Erap

Marcos added that his family was receiving better treatment under President Estrada than under previous presidents. He even raised the possibility that the Marcos issue will be put to rest within Estrada’s term.

“The President has shown sincerity in his effort to resolve the issues surrounding the cases, the Swiss money, including the human rights claimants. I think there is a distinct possibility that in his term, these issues will be resolved and put to rest once and for all, and we as a family and we as a country can put all these things behind us,” he said.

At the same time, Marcos loyalist Cherry Cobarrubias denounced the EDSA celebrations, saying the social and economic situation in the country only deteriorated after Marcos left.

In a statement to news agencies, Cobarrubias expressed longing for martial rule, saying it was one of the best things that Marcos did for the country.

“Lalong lalo na nang si Marcos ay nagdiklara ng Martial Law, iyan ang isang kahanga-hangang gawain ng isang lider na protektahin ang naghihingalong demokrasya ng bayan,” she added. [Especially when Marcos declared Martial Law, that was the best thing a leader could do to protect an endangered democracy.] –With a report from Inocencio Maderazo

For three days, men, women and children filled the streets of EDSA holding on frail hope. For those brief moments, they feared for their security, their lives, their future. Rumors were spreading all over that the forces from the loyalists were coming in from the north to silence the cry of the people through bullets and shells. The prayers grew louder; anxiety filled the air. From above, the citizens of Manila resembled ants swarming on the entire stretch of EDSA. Most of the streets were blockaded and trees were cut down to serve as makeshift anti-tank barricades. Curious civilians climbed the 25-ft. light posts to have a glimpse over the crowd. Along the curbs, women attended to the thirsty, hungry and the weary. Men stood vigilant and served as perimeter guards just in case loyalist troops decided to attack. Priests and nuns prayed and comforted people as they made their way through the population with rosaries at hand..

Tanks were on the other edge of EDSA, and the people had no hesitation to meet them with bare hands and prayers. Soldiers aboard the vehicles climbed
out and were ordered to shoot. Most either shot in the air or were simply shocked at the amount of sacrifice ordinary people are willing to gamble. Tears rolled down their eyes as they were greeted with food and comfort from the rebels. As Marcos proclaimed his presidency atop the balcony of the Malacañang, little did the remaining supporters realize that their would-be president was already arranging his plans for Hawaii. * * *

All these events happened 14 years ago and are still alive in the hearts of many Filipinos who were there to experience it first hand. This is the EDSA revolution – the peaceful cry for freedom.

Cite this EDSA People Power Revolution

EDSA People Power Revolution. (2016, May 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/edsa-people-power-revolution/

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