Why Edsa won’t re-energize People Power
Some people gathered on Edsa on Feb. 25 hoping the commemoration of the fall of the Marcos dictatorship would inspire people to go to Edsa once again to show their indignation at the current dispensation, which is becoming reminiscent of the Marcos regime. Multitudes went to Edsa in 2001 when President Estrada got embroiled in a kickback scandal. However, no assembly of significant size materialized on Edsa last week, to the bafflement of some of the veterans of the Edsa event.
For one, many of the participants of the Edsa event have either passed on or have become too feeble to go to Edsa. Then there are those who have pondered the other consequence of that event—the installation of Cory Aquino as president.
They remember distinctly that her first act was the creation if the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which was mandated to recover the wealth stolen by the Marcoses and their cronies. But at one time, those directly involved with the recovery of ill-gotten wealth—the justice secretary, PCGG chair, and ombudsman—lawyered for Marcos’ cronies. Many of those who pillaged the nation’s wealth during the Marcos years were allowed to remain in control of certain industries, unperturbed by the PCGG.
Democracy remained a dream in many pockets of the country. Warlords in Isabela, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Cavite, Lanao, and Zamboanga not only remained unrestrained, they also continued to oppress their subjects.
The succeeding years saw Aquino’s increasing capacity for condoning wrongdoing and accepting into her administration those who betrayed public trust. It was public knowledge then who the jueteng king of the entire nation was, but no action was taken against him. Many regional and provincial military commanders headed or protected gambling, drug trafficking, carnapping, and kidnapping syndicates, but they remained free to continue their nefarious activities.
Halfway through Cory Aquino’s presidency, Cardinal Sin lamented the state of affairs prevailing then. He said, “We have gone back to what we really are, a nation of easygoing people, rascals, thieves.”
Chino Roces, who gathered over one million signatures to draft Cory to run against Marcos in the Snap Election of 1986, said in his response to Aquino’s conferment of the Legion of Honor on him: “Please allow me to remind you first: that our people brought a new government to power because our people felt an urgent need for change. That change was nothing more and nothing less than that of moving quickly into a new moral order. The people believed that when we said we would be the exact opposite of Marcos, we would be just that.”
The Edsa event also brought into prominence, and eventually to the City Hall of Makati, Jejomar Binay. His reign over Makati can be said to be a microcosm of Marcos’ rule over the country.
As regards the apathy of those who were born after the Edsa event or are too young to know what it was all about, they must be asking: “Why should we be inspired to reprise the Edsa event? Wasn’t it about two million Filipinos going to Edsa to protect Defense Secretary Enrile and AFP chief of staff Ramos from Marcos’ forces? Didn’t Enrile try to shield President Estrada from charges of corruption? Isn’t Enrile himself charged with plunder?”
They must also be wondering why they were expected by the Edsa veterans to join them in the celebration of Ramos’ defiance of Marcos. “Wasn’t Ramos also accused of corruption in connection with the reclamation of some part of Manila Bay? Didn’t he endorse for president Duterte, the same man the Edsa veterans are now indignant about? What then is so significant about the so-called Edsa revolution?”
The loyal warriors of liberty and democracy will have to find a new cause—President Duterte’s disregard of the rule of law, or his persecution of his detractors, or his obsequiousness toward China, or all of them—and a new site of assembly, perhaps Padre Faura in front of the Supreme Court which has made the rule of law a travesty, or Sgt. Esguerra Street in front of ABS-CBN, the current symbol of free speech, or Roxas Boulevard in front of the Chinese Embassy which mocks our sovereignty.
Oscar P. Lagman, Jr. is a retired corporate executive, business consultant, and management professor. He has been a keen observer of Philippine politics since his college days in the 1950s.
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