The Manila Times last Monday launched its first television program of a forum with the theme “33 Years After the Edsa Revolution, May Pagbabago Ba?” It was a timely topic for Feb. 25, when the nation marked the 33rd anniversary of People Power that toppled then President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.
Note that I used the word “marked” and not “celebrated” the occasion in deference to the views expressed by two distinguished panelists, UP political science professor Clarita Carlos and Radio Veritas manager Fr. Larry Faraon.
The two were emphatic in their views that the major world event at Edsa was not a revolution. Carlos stressed that a revolution involved structural changes of society which the Edsa people’s upheaval did not implement or put into place.
As one of three panelists, I concurred with Professor Carlos as I pointed out that a real revolution as the French did in the Fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1771. The French Revolution deposed King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette. The infamous couple were beheaded in public by guillotine. The new ruling people power then abolished the monarchy and replaced it with a a democratic republican state with laws legislated by a national assembly.
This was what Professor Carlos meant when she said a real revolution involves structural changes, She added that the oligarchy Marcos and the Cory government abolished was only replaced by a new set of oligarchs who are just as rapacious in greed and corruption.
This brings to mind the old expression “The king is dead, long live the king!” It means the old regime is dead, and welcome to the new one who is just the same. In essence the three panelists were on the same page in answering a “no” to the question of the topic at hand—has there really been change?
Professor Carlos was more sanguine in saying that in the long run, she was more optimistic that meaningful change will happen. Without contradicting her bright outlook, I differed because as a journalist, I am by nature a cynic and a pessimist having observed and served under the administrations of Marcos, Cory, Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. I therefore could lay claim to an inside look of these presidents and how each dealt with their own respective challenges.
I told the panel that as a journalist who later worked as press counselor, senior foreign affairs adviser and later appointed by GMA as ambassador to Hungary with concurrent jurisdiction over Poland, Serbia (the former Republic of Yugoslavia), and Bosnia Herzogivina, I have been given the rare privilege to work both sides of the street, so to speak . I had to make clear that this is not turncoatism but an exceptional opportunity to observe the workings of media and the government which gave me a balanced perspective of two traditional adversaries.
I made it known that I had worked as news editor of the now defunct Manila Chronicle, then owned by the oligarch Lopez family. As a displaced newspaperman I accepted a job to be press attaché in the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York. I also had postings as press counselor in London, and Brussels dealing and answering questions from the foreign press and taking on insults from Members of Parliament and even wrote back with more stinging rebuke from me printed in the English daily The Guardian.
The Manila Times TV forum last Monday was a three-set series that included senatorial candidate and former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod, former Agrarian Secretary Heherson “Sonny” Alvarez and columnist Belinda Olivarez Cunanan. Since I left after my stint in the first set, I was not able to hear what the other panelists had to say.
I’m sure former defense secretary Enrile talked about the events that led to him and Col. Gringo Honasan to make that historic stand at Camp Aguinaldo. Fr. Faraon, on the other hand, revealed that as Radio Veritas head, he repeatedly played a tape recording of Jaime Cardinal Sin’s call for people to gather at Edsa near Camp Aguinaldo to prevent soldiers dispatched by then Armed Forces chief General Fabian Ver to lay siege on Enrile and his small but gallant band. Fr. Faraon revealed that Cardinal Sin only made that call to the people once but his recorded voice was repeatedly played by Faraoan every minute, making it sound like the Cardinal was doing constantly his call to the people.
The crowd in front of Camp Aguinaldo grew to hundreds of thousands. Soon the throng swelled to one million. The rest, as they say, is history. The bloodless People Power uprising at Edsa was reprised by other nations in Europe who were under the yoke of the Soviet communist empire.
So what’s the difference between the Marcos regime and the present presidency of one Rodrigo Roa Duterte? Let’s hear it from President Duterte in his own words. He claimed he delivered on all his campaign promises but on one which was to solve Metro Manila’s horrendous traffic problem. Let’s hear it from the people. Taxi drivers are the best sounding board because whether they have passengers or not, they are always glued to the cab’s radio listening to the news.
So, what do you think—was it better during Marcos martial law years or Cory to Digong’s term?Seven out of 10 without hesitation would say “Naku, sir mas mabuti pa ho noon panahon ni Macoy mas mura ang bilihin at mas mababa ang crime. Ngayon, ang mababa lang ay ang aming living condition samantala ang mayaman ay lalong yumayaman.”
This is a resounding voice of the people. It is an indictment of the government’s economic policy on why the 10 richest Filipinos listed every year in Forbes Magazine are always the same.