THE 1986 People Power revolution benefitted only the Aquino family and the Filipino people were left to suffer the presidencies of two Aquinos, according to one of the three people who started the revolt 30 years ago.
“It was and it is still being celebrated by the Aquinos because they benefited from it,” the dean of the Philippine Senate, Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, said Tuesday.
“At least it made two Aquino presidents. That’s all the country got,” the 92-year-old senator said, noting that the Filipino people suffered not only power and transportation crises on both occasions, but also a slew of natural disasters.
In fact, Enrile said the original vision of the revolt was never fulfilled, and the dream of building a stronger nation remains just emotions, promises and slogans.
“[There was] no substantial act of nation-building,” Enrile said, adding that the two Aquino presidencies the nation has undergone even brought about deterioration in some aspects of national life.
“If you remember, the [Cory] Aquino administration stopped the Nuclear Power Plant that brought about the brownouts and high cost of electricity in the country,” Enrile said, referring to the Power Crisis of the later 1980s.
During the Power Crisis that occurred from around 1988 to 1991, most of the country experienced lengthy brownouts, some lasting more than eight hours, and that also affected economic progress and worsened the country’s inability to create jobs, Enrile said.
Even before the Power Crisis, there was the Transportation Crisis of 1987 when workers had to spend up to three hours because of the lack of public transportation and mismanagement of public works and vehicular traffic.
“With this [current Aquino] administration, what did they do? They wasted their time in jailing people whom they called corrupt. That was the only problem they have,” said Enrile, who was sent to jail for a year until he was released on bail by the Supreme Court.
Worse, Enrile said, the country has become a nation of mendicants and dependents through the Pantawid Pamilya dole program and a foreign policy of dependency.
“If they used that money for some more important projects, maybe we will not be begging America to save us, save our asses,” said Enile.
“Why are we beholden to America? Because we have no security cover against the regional hegemon [that is] China. And yet, they created the ire of China and use only saliva to challenge China,” the senator added.
“They do not have anything substantial to protect the country if China would want to come to our shores,” he added.
“What did they do in six years? The one that is actually propelling the economies of many countries in the world, including the Philippines, is the cheap credit that was brought about by the boomers of America, and Europe and Asia,” he said.
“[But that] cheap money is going to end. Now, the question is, how much money does the Philippines have to retire its debts. China has a big problem because that is the basic question they have to answer,” he said.
“China is a vulnerable country,” Enrile said. “They can only impose their will on us, but they cannot do that against America, against the Western world. That is why I keep repeating that while we do not have the wherewithal to protect ourselves, we should stick with America”
To solve the country’s current problems, Enrile said the next president “must be the most well-informed, intellectually-prepared and leader in terms of the word leadership.”
“It’d be alright if the world is a peaceful world, during this time you get anything. The country will work until you pass away,” he said.
“But in a dangerous century, we need to select a leader to prepare us and the people to face the music when it starts to rain. We have only up to 2030, at the most. 2030 is going to break roots and [will be] uncontrollable,” Enrile predicted.
Asked of the country’s most pressing problem, Enrile said it is the economy “because we’re not isolated from the dislocations of the economies of other countries.”
“We are vulnerable,” Enrile said. In spite of the claim of the Aquino administration, the only ones keeping afloat this country are the [overseas Filipino workers]. Without the OFWs you have no progress in this country.”
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