Spirit of ’86, spirit of ’22: Edsa 1 people power lives on
The 1986 Edsa People Power nonviolent revolution, made into song “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo,” was essentially organized and spontaneous mobilizing of people to marches, rallies, demonstrations, protests, prayer, and fasting, to declare: Tama na, sobra na! Palitan na! There was no internet at that time, thus not allowing real-time coverage of mobilization happening in different parts of the country. Antonio Montalvan, however, wrote that Cagayan de Oro City had its people power mobilization as well over extended periods. Other parts of the country surely had their own. The outcome is now history: the “conjugal dictatorship” was ended. The Inquirer’s headline on Feb. 26, 1986, said it all: “It’s all over, Marcos flees.”
The Leni-Kiko campaign seems to be giving the Filipino people a bird’s eye view of how it must have happened in 1986. Everywhere they go, people are coming out in big numbers, voluntarily expressing their sentiment that going back in time is not what the country needs. Marcos Sr. represented an unwanted glitch, an aberration in Philippine history when freedom was snatched away from the Filipino people for one man to rule. Autocracy was imposed. A military regime was set up, doing away with constitutional democracy. Marcos’ presidential term, which was supposed to have ended in 1973, was extended to 1986. It was a 20-year reign, marked by massive plunder. With the mobilization of people in the campaign rallies of Leni and Kiko, it looks like the Filipino will again decide, 20 years of Marcos is more than enough: Tama na, sobra na!
In the counting of the votes in 1986, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed Marcos had the lead. Namfrel, the citizen election watchdog, however, showed Cory was ahead. The polling surveys this time may be showing Marcos Jr. leading, with some groups even declaring it is all over even before the first ballot is tabulated. Who dared say Marcos could be ousted in 1986? People power in different parts of the country that time had no visibility, except when Cory’s campaign had the opportunity to project people mobilization. This year is demonstrating to all how the people are getting involved in the Leni-Kiko rallies. It is phenomenal. The youth are coming out, people are demonstrating care for one another and exhibiting discipline when rally sites are cleaned up after the events. There is renewed hope in 2022. The spirit of 1986 is alive again in 2022, with one unique difference: 1986 was to oust a dictator; 2022 is to install governance that can be expected to finally deliver to the Filipino people their aspirations for a just, fair, peaceful, and prosperous society for all.
The snap election of 1986 was held under the aegis of an autocrat. Marcos Jr. is a beneficiary of that autocracy. The strategy of his campaign is to project that he is the sure winner without need to respect the rules set by the Comelec that includes participation in presidential debates to give the people the chance to know the candidates better, and how they would govern. He is doing this by projecting perception of sure electoral victory. Surveys do not elect the president. Counting the votes freely cast by the electorate does. Freedom must be expressed on May 9, 2022. No society where freedom is curtailed is sustainable in the long run. Freedom is the essence of being human. Autocrats do not live forever. The spirit of freedom is forever.
It is only a few weeks to May 9, 2022. It is important that after the last election voting precinct closes and the counting begins, the people must be convinced that the entire electoral process has integrity. The Filipino people will know how to respect the election outcome when they know the election is free and fair. The groundswell of people power in 2022 can be a renewal of the people’s pride to show the world that democracy is real, indeed. A citizenry involved can install a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
DANILO S. VENIDA