The 31st anniversary of the so-called Edsa People Power Revolution last Feb. 25 was hardly celebrated by anybody, save for Liberal Party politicians, their relatives, and their intolerant and judgmental supporters.
Fortunately for motorists in Metropolitan Manila, this year’s “celebration” at the Edsa-Ortigas Avenue area fell on a Saturday, so it did not add to the traffic nightmare in the metropolis. The LP politicians should also consider themselves fortunate because the multi-layer flyover complex located there was able to conceal from public view the mere handful of people who attended. That flyover likewise made it easy for the LP to claim that many people went there to remember the 1986 “people power” revolt.
Truth to tell, the 1986 “people power” revolt has retrogressed to a mere phantasm—a product of the imagination of the LP.
What was this “people power” revolt all about anyway? LP politicians, a term broad enough to include the sitting vice president, have given it a cosmetic definition—a time when the Filipino people unseated an authoritarian ruler through a bloodless process. Allies of the Aquino family add that it was an occasion when an ordinary housewife named Corazon Aquino restored democracy in the Philippines.
To repeat, those definitions are merely cosmetic.
For the record, the change in the Philippine political landscape in February 1986 was not brought about solely by Mrs. Aquino, but by political opposition forces which had been fighting the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos long before Mrs. Aquino entered the political picture in August 1983, when she became the widow of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., arguably the staunchest critic of the Marcos regime back then.
Speaking of political opposition forces, special attention is invited to the United Nationalist Democratic Organization headed by former senator Salvador “Doy” Laurel which, by 1981, had become the dominant political opposition party in the Philippines on account of its national network.
After Ninoy Aquino and his Lakas ng Bayan partymates lost in the May 1978 elections for seats in the interim Batasang Pambansa, many voters who were sympathetic to the political opposition lost their faith in the electoral process. It was the Unido which convinced the voters not to lose confidence in the ballot. The Unido succeeded in this regard when it won one-third of the seats for the Batasang Pambansa in the May 1984 elections. That electoral victory convinced many voters that all is not lost for the political opposition.
Had it not been for that Unido electoral victory in 1984, voters would have been completely disenchanted with the electoral process, and may have resorted to violence and armed conflict instead. If the electoral process was considered a failure by the electorate, it would have been absurd for President Marcos to call “snap elections” for president and vice president in February 1986. If there was no special election to begin with, there would have been no “people power” revolt in its aftermath.
It will be recalled that Mrs. Aquino ran for president under Laurel’s Unido banner, and she was aware of the nationwide network and the political machinery of the party.
If Mrs. Aquino did not have the backing of Laurel’s Unido, she would have forfeited the party’s presidential berth Laurel had so selflessly yielded to her, and she would have ended up running for president on her own accord. Running on her own would have gotten her clobbered at the polls by the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan juggernaut of the Marcos administration. In such a scenario, there would have been no reason for “people power” to get instigated.
At the end of the day, the real definition of “people power” is supplied not by the political cosmetologists of the LP but by the events that took place in the six years following that February 1986 political upheaval.
The press freedom supposedly restored in the country by Mrs. Aquino was superficial. During her presidency, the government television station continued to dish out pro-administration propaganda, while two other television stations were sequestered, and left in the hands of Aquino cronies, almost all of whom made milking cows of these stations. In fine, three of the then five existing television stations in the country were controlled by the Aquino administration.
Mrs. Aquino herself instituted a criminal case for libel against veteran journalists and erstwhile Aquino supporters Maximo Soliven and Luis Beltran. Both journalists had to win their acquittal in the Court of Appeals. No sitting president, not even Marcos, has ever filed a criminal case for libel against a journalist. Mrs. Aquino did.
The “people power” revolt allowed the Aquino family to retain ownership and control over their crown jewel—Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac—despite the mandate by the comprehensive agrarian reform law that large estates shall be subjected to land reform. Other not so fortunate estate owners had to obey the law.
Farmers protesting their sorry plight in a harmless rally at Mendiola near Mrs. Aquino’s Malacañang residence were met with deadly violence, enough to mark the event as the “Mendiola Massacre.”
Aquino’s “people power” revolt prompted her to abolish the Department of Energy, a Marcos creation. Her move eventually caused endless daily power outages nationwide, many of which lasted for as long as twelve hours. Under Mrs. Aquino, the Philippines became the “brownout capital of the world.”
Gambling is a social evil that destroys the moral fabric of the people. It entices many, the youth in particular, to depend on wagers, instead of industry and hard work. President Marcos was aware of this evil, and kept casino operations at a minimum, with admission restricted mostly to foreigners.
Under Mrs. Aquino, however, gambling casinos proliferated in the Philippines, and her cronies had great influence in the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., the state agency which supervises the operations of all casinos in the nation.
The foregoing reasons explain why the “people power” revolt invoked by LP politicians and their allies is a mere phantasm which has no appeal.