Why didn’t they do these things after Edsa? | Inquirer Opinion

Why didn’t they do these things after Edsa?

The declining number of participants in the “Edsa Revolution” has been noted by everybody. This could have been averted if the revolutionary government which was installed following Edsa acted thus:

1) Confiscated, by decree the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos and his cronies. All the major revolutions of modern times, the French (1789), the Soviet (1917), and the Chinese (1949), featured the confiscation of wealth of the ousted regimes. Wealth is the ultimate source of power, and taking this step prevents a counter-revolution. In these three revolutions, the ousted elites had to flee for their lives, and those who remained were executed.

Boris Yeltsin and the new leaders of the former Eastern European Socialist bloc did that. They confiscated all the assets of the communist parties. In our case, had this been done, the shoe would have been on the other foot. The Marcoses and their cronies would be the ones now filing court cases to recover their ill-gotten wealth. By this failure, our government faced the herculean task of trying to recover these ill-gotten wealth through our corrupt justice system, with predictable results. Most of the cases were thrown out on technicalities like the use of photocopies as evidence, or the lapse of prescription period.

2) Removed all the Marcos names in roads, bridges, schools, etc. Ever wonder why our children have mixed signals about the Marcos regime? They are taught in school about the sordid record of Marcos, yet every day they use infrastructure named after Marcos. Our younger generation read fairy tales in school. They should not be blamed if they conclude that what they are taught in school about the Marcos regime are the same as the fairy tales they read. All these infrastructure were built with public funds. The Germans did not name the Autobahn after Hitler, neither did the Italians name the Autostrada after Mussolini. The Germans and Italians studied the consequences of doing these things, we did not.


3) Almost everybody has now heard of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. The crony capitalists who benefited from the project have been identified. Strangely, nobody has asked the question: Who submitted the justifications for this project? At the start of martial law in 1972, our international debt was minimal. At the time of Edsa it had reached $40 billion; of this amount, $10 billion was stolen by the regime. To get loans at this amount required justifications, and these were prepared by the so called “technocrats” who served the regime. It requires exceptional talent to prepare these justifications.

In the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 against Nazi war criminals, Albert Speer claimed that he was only a technocrat and did not participate in Hitler’s war crimes. The Allies replied: “By lending your talents to Hitler, you helped install the Nazi regime and prolonged the war.” Speer was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

None of the Marcos technocrats ended in jail; they are back in circulation. In the Western movies, you find gunslingers who hire their services to shadowy characters. Unless put out of circulation, they continue their trade. The technocrats who served under Marcos did the same thing. Like the guns-for-hire of old, they sold their talents to new employers after Edsa. The infrastructure of corruption established by Marcos, which includes these technocrats, survived Edsa.

4) Seized the landed estates and parceled them to tenants. Almost everyone knows why this was not done—because of Hacienda Luisita. A stroke of the pen would have redistributed land to the tenants. Now 35 years after Edsa, our land reform is still going on.


Edsa could be revived with the help of an unanticipated patron—Vladimir Lenin. He claimed that revolutions come in waves; in Russia it happened in 1892, 1905, and then successfully in 1917. So the next time it happens, we will hopefully do the right things. The epitaph for this discussion is: “Edsa 1986—how not to wage a revolution.”



Hermenegildo C. Cruz is a retired career ambassador who served in this capacity in the United Nations, Bolivia, Chile, and the Soviet Union. He holds a master of arts in law and diplomacy degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Massachusetts, USA.

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TAGS: EDSA, Edsa Revolution, marcos, People Power

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