The true spirit of Edsa lies in the people
The promise of democracy remains unfulfilled 34 years on from the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that ousted Ferdinand Marcos Sr. The basic human rights and social guarantees secured by Edsa ’86 ring hollow as the poor are shot in the streets in the name of the drug war and national security.
We are told of fabulous economic growth, even as school fees steadily rise alongside the prices of basic commodities. Elected officials on all levels of government remain virtually monopolized by a handful of elite families, even as attempts from the working class to organize in their workplaces are met with police brutality and media blackouts. Poverty, excruciating as ever, exists side by side with the immense riches of a few.
It is no surprise that for many Filipinos, the memory of Edsa ’86 is ultimately that of a mistake. Many look back to the Marcos years with rose-tinted glasses and see stability where there were crises, prosperity where there was stagnation, order where there was chaos. All this because the Edsa revolution had failed to bring about real change in the life of the country. Indeed, many Marcos-allied military, political, and business figures stayed on after Edsa ’86, and the Marcoses themselves were allowed to return to the country only a few years after their ouster, paving the way for their attempts to revise the history of their 21-year rule.
The people power vision of a just and free society that would “restore democracy” as put forward by its public faces has been discredited, and the spirit that animated the millions who took to the streets in 1986 has become embittered. The times demand a new vision: one that seeks to go further than defending the legacy of Edsa ’86. Calls for unity amid the crises of our times will fall on deaf ears until we demand not merely the upholding of our rights, but also their radical expansion beyond the sphere of the strictly legal.
On its 34th anniversary, the spirit of the Edsa revolution demands that all aspects of our lives be democratized, from our workplaces and schools, up to our governments. The minor victories won under Edsa must not be the end of our fight for a true democracy, even as they are slowly taken away by the fascist Duterte regime as we struggle to defend them.
The real makers of history are not the Aquinos, the Dutertes, or the Marcoses, but the broadest ranks of the toiling masses, who even amid the hardest and most repressive circumstances, dared to dream of a more just and equal society for ordinary Filipinos. Let us not forget their decades-long struggle by merely being complacent, and reusing the symbols of old and waxing nostalgic about a “democracy” that never was.
Once again, we must return to the masses, and more than simply calling for the ouster of one president, call for the complete overturning of the status quo — a true revolution that changes the very fabric of our profit-oriented, elite-dominated political-economic status quo toward a society that truly upholds the interests of the Filipino people.
SAMAHAN NG PROGRESIBONG KABATAAN (SPARK)
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