Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Philippines Edsa Revolt: Betrayal, hopes for conversion

The 1986 Edsa People Power Revolt’s core message that made the world look up to us 28 years ago is still valid:

To institute drastic political change, peaceful mass action is the best option.

The Edsa Revolt was far from a complete success in bringing about the fundamental change for the better in Philippine society and the state and its Republic.  Some may even be justified in calling it a failure. This is why we prefer calling it a revolt to proclaiming it to be the “Edsa Revolution.”

Some of the Marcos cronies of the past may have disappeared, but others remain as active as ever in business and politics. The entrenched dynasties never really disappeared. The Marcoses are back in power in the Ilocos and the Waray provinces.

But Edsa did restore the imperfect Philippine version of electoral democracy to our Republic. We must cheer ourselves—and keep from being hopelessly depressed—by thinking of our democracy as a work in progress.

The million or so Filipinos who trooped to Edsa for those three days in 1986 inspired other mass movements in other parts of the world.  Some of these people power events succeeded, most failed.

The Arab Spring, for example, saw Marcos-style dictators removed from their posts one after another, a few years back.

Today, we have some of the people of Thailand attempting to remove a government that they believe is being run via long distance by a deposed leader, whose wealth remains substantial and whose sister has assumed his former post.  As in the Philippines, the battle in Thailand is between the elite and the populists.

In the Ukraine, after a few days of excessive violence that may have cause the deaths of as many as a hundred protestors, the despised president was finally forced to flee.

In Egypt, the Arab Spring resulted in the election of a fundamentalist Muslim president and the rise of groups who cruelly killed Christians and other minorities.

Today, the Egyptian military is openly back in power.

Today, can we Filipinos can still take pride in the fact that we continue to elect leaders via the popular vote. We in The Times have seen our electoral democracy trashed.  We question the correctness of the results of elections using the flawed Automated Election System sold under questionable circumstances to the Comelec by Smartmatic.  We fear the institutionalization of this suspect and unreliable system.

It may be said that mass media, specially social media—Facebook and Twitter, etc.—have made  any form of power today more potent in instantaneously pushing large numbers of ordinary citizens to take to the streets to demand political change.

We had no Facebook or Twitter back in 1986, but by the second People Power revolt in our country, the one that saw the unjust and elite-organized and -manipulated ouster of then president Erap Estrada, texting had become a major factor in bringing the  people back to the Edsa.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the Philippines can no longer afford another Edsa-type mass action, because to do so would prove the fact that our country’s political institutions are weak.
This, too, is another lesson that our country has taught the world.

One mass action to remove a hated leader is good; a second one is justifiable only under extreme circumstances; a third people revolt is indicative of an unstable political system.

An anti-Aquino Edsa Revolt?

Are we saying that the still hugely popular but inefficient and rather crooked Aquino administration—which daily provides proof that the President’s so-called “Tuwid na Daan” (Righteous Path) policy is not being carried out by his men—could suffer the fate that befell the Marcos regime and Estrada presidency?

Yes, we are saying that. But we hope and pray it doesn’t.

We pray that—if the Aquino administration cannot miraculously become less incompetent, inefficient and corrupt and more caring for the majority and the future of our country—its abuses and malfeasances are curbed by a patriotic and God-fearing Judiciary.

We pray that President Aquino’s power over Congress diminishes so that the few good men and women there lead their peers into  becoming the honorable and patriotic congressmen and senators that they should be—according to the hopes of the true patriots in the Edsa Revolt.
We pray that President and his friends, the key people of the administration, undergo a conversion and realize that they have betrayed the highest dreams of the most noble and high-minded Filipinos who participated in the Edsa Revolt.

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