Philippine Democracy
(Module Content)

Philippine Government
The Executive Branch
The Legislative Branch
The Judiciary
The Local Governments

The Marcos Era
The Aquino Era
The Ramos Era
The Estrada Era
The Arroyo Administration

A Brave Example for the World
Remembering EDSA I
bd14582_.gif (185 bytes)The People's EDSA
bd14582_.gif (185 bytes)13 Yrs After EDSA Revolution
bd14582_.gif (185 bytes)MarcosesAre Back
bd14582_.gif (185 bytes)What EDSA? What victims?

People Power in Malaysia?

History and Peoples
Philippine Culture Page
Tagalog Homepage

(22-25 February 1986)

macoy_.gif (17212 bytes)

Image from Philippine Daily Inquirer
Internet Edition
21 February 1999

The final lesson
of EDSA has long been
suspected by
democratic sympathizers,

although there have been few
validations of their thesis.

A democratic revolution
cannot be
initiated or sustained

by self-serving elites.
Only an

self-serving citizenry
can reliably initiate and
sustain an enduring democracy.

Felipe B. Miranda

* EDSA stands for Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue, site of People Power Revolution
against the regime of President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1986.


THE EDSA People Power Revolt hasbeen endlessly written about the past 13 years that there's hardly anythingleft to be said. Except to remember and be grateful. And, except to wonder over again.

Who can say enough about the wonder that was Edsa? Diverse people and events of those four days in February came together neatly and forcefully to cause the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

The wonder of the mighty Marcos military turning against itself. The rebellion of the Marcos defense minister and his acting chief of staff to support the civil disobedience launched by the political opposition led by Cory Aquino. Most of all, mass upon mass of people armed only with their faith shielding their once-hated military with their own bodies.

The wonder of an Edsa brimming with the faith of the Filipinos has not receded with time. The wonder is a constant, undiminished even by the shattered dreams of the Filipinos. Their dream to be free was now reality. But as they set his country free so was the machinery of corruption set free and running as it was in the time of tyranny. The Filipinos kicked out the looters of this nation's wealth only to realize that a new pack of looters had taken over.

At Edsa, Filipinos held the power of the people in their hands. With that awesome power, they rejected the leaders, who had robbed them, betrayed them, tortured and killed those who would not be enslaved.

At Edsa, Filipinos were the masters of their fate. At last, they could believe in a government for the people and by the people. They were sovereign. Next to the dream of freedom, there was this other one. That their leaders elected in a free and honest election, would harken to the people's mandate. That they
would listen. And that they would act quickly according to what the people needed. That they would be true to their oath of office. That they would serve their masters, the people. That was the lesson at Edsa that leaders had to learn from thereon. That was also the dream. It has not happened. Both the learning and the dream.

Filipinos are now free to speak their mind, to air their grievances. But that is about all they have of their four days of courage. That is all they can show for nearly being bombed into kingdom come at Edsa.

The post-Edsa Filipinos now have a voice. But who is listening? But for the periodic elections when politicians are suddenly and suspiciously solicitous and generous, who really cares?

The Filipinos are back exactly to where they were before Edsa: Stuck in poverty and the corruption of their government but, unlike at Edsa, powerless to do anything about it.

To top it all, the Marcoses never left home. Which is the worst post-Edsa scenario imaginable. Only, this is happening right now.

For all the post-Edsa desecrations of the Filipinos' courage and sacrifice, their dreams and expectations, Edsa is not in ruins. It remains a wonder to behold 13 years later. It has stood as a beacon to oppressed people everywhere from Burma to the former Czechoslovakia to Rumania to South Africa. It continues to burn brightly as an eternal flame to freedom. Edsa is a monument to the best that the Filipino can be.

As wonders go, we can say everything about Edsa and yet nothing. Because wonders can never be fully explained. Because wonders can never be unraveled. To unravel a ball of thread is to discover you've lost it.

Let historians then evaluate the context and perspectives of Edsa relative to the development of our nation. Let political experts assess, dissect and perorate on why Edsa failed. Let the ideologues lament that the revolutionary zeal for reforms has fizzled out. That traditional vested interests are back in business as usual. That the political order is out of order. That the national purpose is adrift. That national unity is in tatters. That the Edsa spirit is dead.

All that may be true. But so is this truth: Edsa happened and the Filipino made it happen. No one can diminish Edsa or take it away from the Filipino.

So, let the people rejoice that there ever was an Edsa. Let them sing and dance in the streets in the next four days in celebration of their triumph. Because Edsa was of their very own making. Their finest four days when they decided in Nick Joaquin's words, ''to have a future again, a tomorrow again, and that we didn't have to resign ourselves to a numbing prospect of one damnable Marcos after another.''

Source: 22 February 1999 from the Philippine Daily Inquirer Internet Edition <>

Back to Top

Lost revolt waits for new spark from below


FOR MORE than a decade now, many Filipinos have trekked to EDSA to commemorate the anniversary of the February 1986 "People Power Revolution," marking the overthrow of President Marcos' regime.

This year the customary rituals - ecumenical invocations, on-site masses, eloquent political speeches, martial marches, colorful parades, star-studded shows and other diversionary entertainment - will be performed as before. The celebration will probably take a more subdued tone as the country, as well as the region, reels
from the economic slowdown and disruptive challenges to erstwhile secure political orders.

For most people who persist in joining the EDSA celebration, few are inspired to explore its historical or spiritual connotations. It appears sufficient that this historic stretch of the national highway is momentarily transformed into a convenient amusement park.

After all, people who live precariously from moment to moment, as more Filipinos now must, are not inclined to burden themselves contemplating the depressing state of the nation. Better the light entertainment of the moment than the serious
reflection which a continuing sense of national purpose and civic responsibility demands.

Yet, amidst today's celebration of the 1986 People Power Revolution, one really ought to inquire into the meaning of this historic mass action, the original context within which it might be more fully appreciated and the painful but now compelling
perspective for assessing the current relevance of this experience.

In 1986, a critical mass of Filipinos found Marcos and the political order he created sufficiently revolting; and, throwing their support behind a small band of desperate military coup plotters, forced the ailing dictator, his family and his subalterns to flee the country.

The popular revolt succeeded in toppling Marcos' rule, but lacking a clearly revolutionary ideology, a revolutionary program of government, a revolutionary political leadership and indeed a revolutionary mass base, the rising could not go much beyond ridding the country of the hated Marcos and dismantling the formal political infrastructure of his dictatorship.

The leaders and other supporters of the "people power revolution" could have worked hard to give substance to this media-projected identity. Indeed the momentum of the popular revolt could have been sustained and immediately magnified had a series of progressive government policies been launched
and implemented with revolutionary rigor by the successor regime.

These policies included people empowerment particularly at the local level, national unification embracing the traditionally marginalized and even the main rebel groups, recovery of plundered public resources and relentless pursuit of those responsible for the rape of an entire nation across several generations.

The revolutionary possibilities indicated by these early policies of the new government however would remain illusory. Traditional vested interest groups (e.g. landed wealth, those in business and the religious) as well as politicized new players in Philippine politics (e.g. the military) developed more than enough political stakes in the post-Edsa political arrangements and predictably shirked from the revolutionary thrusts of these early policies.

As had happened so often in the history of most nations, collaborationist Philippine elites thought it best to undertake a politics of restoration where their primacy would be guaranteed rather than to assist in the building of a new and, for the historically privileged, a problematic, even outrightly perilous democratic regime. Most leaders of the 1986 revolt understandably settled on the reassuring shores of oligarchic history rather than embark on the uncharted, revolutionary seas searching for the proverbial terra incognita, a conceivably democratic national destiny.

National unification was pursued without any critical attention being paid to what elements could legitimately be included in or excluded from national life. Thus economic plunderers and scoundrels automatically were inserted as integral parts of post-Marcos transition.

It did not matter much, that for more than two decades, they had abused and looted the nation. National reconciliation was similarly uncritically pursued and perpetrators of appalling crimes, including economic brigandage and human rights
abuses, were courted without requiring them to undertake significant restitution to the victims of their rapacity while they retained control of government offices at various levels.

No revolutionary possibility could survive amidst policies which glossed over the antithetical character of the nation's traitors and its patriots, the victimizers and their victims, the plunderers and the plundered.

A nation that is successfully misled by its leaders into adopting this convenient and self-serving ambiguity learns to readily forgive and hence to also easily forget. Without a clear memory, no nation can hope to sustain an irreversible revolution, the only truly reliable path to its deserved destiny.

The historical record since 1986 reflects the implacable effects of reformist policies which do not basically alter the substantive character of Philippine society and its core political system. Economic and political inequities remain at high levels, with
poverty engulfing probably more than 6 years percent of the nation's families (this count is often registered in academic surveys although the government's own estimates would improve this profile, cutting down the estimated poverty
incidence rate to less than 40 percent by 1997).

Despite the much touted improvements in national economic performance particularly between 1992 and 1997, Philippine per capita income remains low in relation to countries like Thailand and Malaysia and only slightly better than Indonesia within the region. Independent surveys also indicate that gains made by
the national economy in the last 60 have been largely limited to the better-off and had not significantly trickled down to the poorer Filipinos.

Politically, local governments have gained more autonomy, the oligarchic and dynastic characteristics of the political system continue to be apparent and are documented in various studies looking into electoral financing, candidate profiles and public official pedigrees.

Systemic graft and corruption remain at fairly high levels. Thirteen years after the EDSA Revolution, a new president's public speeches would continue to denounce routinely "hoodlums in robes" (those in the judiciary), "hoodlums in uniform" (those in the military and the police) as well as all other plain hoodlums in and out of government service. All would be warned in his inaugural address not to test his presidential resolve to combat graft and corruption. (Almost a year into his
own presidency, it appears that some of his own close political aides have been hard of hearing at his inauguration).

One could continue documenting the agitating features of Philippine political history after 1986. One could explore the serious challenges of criminality to public safety (with about 40 percent at least of the people feeling unsafe whether in their
own homes or in the streets of their own neighborhood), or of dissident groups defying public order (the CPP-NPA-NDF communist threat and the Muslim Islamic Liberation Front) or the politicization of purportedly neutral government institutions such as the judiciary and the military, among others.

All these are painful images of a current reality emphatically belying any claim that a political or socioeconomic revolution was indeed precipitated at EDSA. Yet one more image remains and perhaps it is this one that might serve to sufficiently
outrage another critical mass and another generation of Filipinos toward a much more authentic revolutionary awakening.

Criminals do appear to have a compulsion to return to the scene of their crimes. The national plunderers are back in business, in all the influential sectors of Philippine society, in government, the private sector and even in many of the
pseudo-organizations of civil society. Their dramatic presence, their predictable forays into the nation's patrimony and their subsequent arrogant posturings could re-ignite the public's fading memories of a previous regime's brutal political
repression and tyrannical rule. A better-organized, better-informed and more truly revolutionary consciousness could be facilitated by the resurgence of these people who treated the Philippines as their private looting grounds for more than two decades. Then, like the devil in Goethe's Faust, they may yet philosophically pronounce when asked for their identity: "I am he who while ever conspiring to do evil somehow manage to effect good."

The lessons of 1986 and other earlier possible turning points in Philippine history are relatively unambiguous. Revolts do not necessarily make for revolutionary outcomes, at best on for revolutionary potential. In the case of the 1986 Revolution, that potential was aborted. Marcos was deposed as a political ruler,
but the political system which spawned him was not irreversibly destroyed and may even now be resurgent.

The final lesson of EDSA has long been suspected by democratic sympathizers, although there have been few validations of their thesis. A democratic revolution cannot be initiated or sustained by self-serving elites. Only an enlightened, self-serving citizenry can reliably initiate and sustain an enduring democracy.

FELIPE B. MIRANDA is professor  of Political Science at the
Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

Source: 21 February 1999 Philippine Daily Inquirer Internet Edition <>

Back to Top

By Stella O. Gonzales

edsa.jpg (21133 bytes)
Image from Philippine Daily Inquirer
  23 February 1999

Cardinal Sin, Corazon C. Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, and President Joseph E. Estrada

FORMER President Fidel Ramos yesterday urged Filipinos to ''remember the truth'' as he denounced the return to power of the very people toppled by the historic 1986 Edsa uprising.

''Today, a number of these people--thanks to our own democratic processes--are back in power, making the decisions that shape our lives,'' Ramos told a breakfast forum at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

''The interests they represented are still around. They are enjoying a new-found respectability, and daring even to revise our understanding of what happened in those dark days of dictatorship--to win back, in other words, what they lost to the
people in a bloodless revolution.''

The strong words were obviously in reference to cronies of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as well as two of his children, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Imee, who are now Ilocos Norte governor and representative.

Ramos, one of the key figures in the uprising, reminded Filipinos that ''Edsa is a continuing revolution--an unfinished confrontation with the forces of arrogance, greed, oppression and indifference.''

He dared President Estrada and other leaders who did not take part in the uprising to now participate in it by declaring themselves in favor of what the people did then, and promoting what the people had fought for.

''This means taking actions that will enhance rather than restrict our democracy, curbing corruption and cronyism in high places, carrying on with economic liberalization and social reform, and seeing to it that justice is delivered to the long-suffering and powerless,'' he said.

''And I mean concrete and decisive action--not just brave words or slogans that may sound good on camera but which very quickly become undone in the real world.''

The statement--made in the wake of reports of corruption in the government--was an apparent reference to Mr. Estrada's promise that he would go after anyone who violated the law, without favor to his family or friends.

Still, Ramos said he was ''delighted'' that the President had ''forthrightly embraced, by his official orders, the concept that Edsa must continue in our lives.''

Opposite side

Ramos chided those who were claiming to have been part of the revolt but who were actually at the opposite side of the fence.

''Every year, fewer and fewer people come to Edsa itself to commemorate our 'People Power Revolution.' This, I suppose, is only to be expected. But also every year, it also seems that more and more people claim to have been at Edsa--or were one with
us--in February 1986,'' he said.

He said he did not begrudge these people the right to defend themselves and to peddle their own version of history. ''But it is up to us--the people in the street, the pedestrians of the moment--to remember the truth, to recover our senses, to reject falsehood, and to rededicate ourselves to what we fought for 13 years ago: freedom from the rule of one man, one family, and one coterie of cronies, and the right and the opportunity to grow into the fullness of our nationhood,'' he said.

Ramos also said it was not too late for those who stood at the opposite side to renounce despotism. They could still start afresh, ''in union with the awakened masses,'' he said.

Nevertheless, Ramos said, there was good reason to commemorate Edsa because, he noted, the Philippines had become Asia's most vibrant example of a restored and
functioning democracy.

''Were it not for Edsa, not many of us would be here today enjoying our liberties.''

'Only 8 months'

Militant groups also lamented the return to power of the Marcoses and their cronies.

The Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya said it took the President only eight months to set back whatever gains the people may have achieved through the Edsa revolt.

''Mr. Estrada has successfully reinstated the Marcoses and their most rabid cronies (Eduardo) Danding Cojuangco and Lucio Tan back in power,'' said KPD chair Sonia Soto.

She described this year's commemoration as a ''grand reunion'' of Marcos' monolithic Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, ''to celebrate the successful comeback to the happy days before Edsa.''

Kilusang Mayo Uno chair Crispin Beltran said Filipinos had ''no reason to rejoice'' in the commemoration as ''the conditions that pushed the 1986 uprising remain and have even worsened after Marcos.'' Citing labor figures, he said the unemployment rate had gone up to 13.3 percent and that an average of 435 workers were being retrenched daily. ''About 75 percent of the Filipinos still live below the poverty line. The plight of the Filipino masses is worse than before,'' he said. Beltran added: ''Now, under Estrada, the Marcoses and their cronies have been fully rehabilitated and allowed to recover their ill-gotten assets.''

No change

In his homily during an afternoon Mass at the Edsa Shrine, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin breached expectations by not delivering scathing remarks against the Estrada administration or the return to power of the Marcoses and their

The outspoken Sin even thanked the President ''for declaring this day a national holiday.''

But he observed that 13 years after the revolt, many Filipinos were still impoverished, had no access to decent housing, and were suffering injustice precisely because of their poverty.

He said problems concerning pornography, violence, abuse and exploitation still abounded, and that anti-life and anti-family values continued to threaten the youth.

Yet, Sin reminded Filipinos that they had a collective mission to uphold what was fought for at Edsa, to build a society of peace, progress and justice.

At the House, party list representatives expressed regret over yet unfulfilled ''dreams.''

Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales said that while the uprising brought about ''formal democracy,'' this was not enough to satisfy the people's aspirations for social and economic upliftment. Worse, she said, Edsa's libertarian ideals were not only forsaken but were also being trampled on by measures pushed by the Estrada administration.

She said among these were the proposals to scrap the minimum wage, require all taxpayers to disclose their assets and liabilities, relax the rules on warrantless arrest, and suspend workers' right to strike.

Rosales particularly deplored Malacaņang's proposal to tax the underground economy while offering amnesty to ''big tax evaders like Lucio Tan.''

Sanlakas Rep. Renato Magtubo said farmers had yet to taste whatever gains were made at Edsa. ''To most of them, owning the land their families have tilled for
generations remains a dream. And a dream it shall remain with the Estrada administration's endorsement of stocks distribution and corporate farming,'' Magtubo said.


Senate President Marcelo Fernan urged Filipinos to preserve the democratic institutions restored after the revolt.

''The Philippines' post-Edsa experience has shown that economic growth and democracy go hand in hand,'' he said in a statement

''It was during (Marcos') strongman rule that the country lagged behind its neighbors economically.'' Fernan also said the uprising ''will forever be the Filipinos'
shining legacy of political awakening for the cause of democracy and freedom.''

But Sen. Teresa Aquino-Oreta said the restoration of democracy would not be complete if most Filipinos remained poor. ''Democracy is meaningless to a person with a grumbling stomach. People will value democracy if they see that it has
helped improve their lives,'' she said.

With reports from Gerald G. Lacuarta and Volt Contreras

Source: February 23, 1999 Philippine Daily Inquirer <>

Back to Top

WHAT EDSA? WHAT VICTIMS? -- Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
By Annie Ruth Sabangan and Dennis Carcamo, Reporters

FOR the past two administrations, the Marcoses were accused of
unsurpassed greed, of plunder, and of torture.

How times have changed. These days, the Marcoses are
accusing their victims of being too greedy, even of being

Ilocos Governor Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. yesterday
declared that the 1986 EDSA revolt was "no revolution," but a
mere "political power grab."

The statement came just a day after the country celebrated the
13th anniversary of the EDSA people power uprising that threw
the Marcoses out of Malacaņang.

At the same time, the younger Marcos brushed off claims for
compensation by the 10,000 victims of human rights violation
during the Marcos administration, saying "some" of the victims
were merely motivated by "greed."

The younger Marcos even expressed doubts that there were
really torture victims during his father's 21-year reign.

"Some of these people that are claiming they are human rights
victims have never been victims of anything except their own
greed," Marcos said in an interview with newsmen in his office at
the Ilocos capitol.

The statement was the strongest made by a member of the
Marcos family since they were driven out of power by the EDSA
revolt. The Marcoses have taken on a higher profile since
President Estrada took office last July. Estrada is a friend of the

No apologies

Marcos also rejected all calls for an apology from the Marcoses,
saying the human rights victims only wanted money, and not an

"It boils down to money. They don't want an apology, they want
money," Marcos said.

"And I think their true colors are showing because kung
mayroong pag-asang magkapera, mag-aaway-away na rin sila,"
he added. [If there is a chance to get money, they will fight
among themselves.]

He was referring to reports of a feud between Claimants 1081 and
the Samahan ng Mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para
sa Amnestiya (SELDA). Both groups are composed of victims of
human rights violations during the martial law years.

No victims

"We will apologize if we have done something wrong. We have
not even seen that the so-called human rights claimants do
actually exist," Marcos told newsmen.

In 1992, some 10,000 victims of human rights violation filed a
class suit against the Marcoses and went on to win in the Hawaii
District Court. The victims were awarded $2.2 billion in damages,
although they have not yet been paid until now.

More recently, the Marcoses and the government have agreed in
principle to set aside one-third of the $580-million Marcos bank
accounts now held in escrow at the Philippine National Bank.
The amount was formerly part of the Marcos secret bank
accounts in Switzerland.

Marcos also belittled the 13th anniversary celebrations of the
EDSA revolution last Monday, saying "there was no revolution."

Instead, he described the people power revolt that ousted his
family from Malacaņang as "a political power grab."

"There was no revolution. Revolution is a change in social order.
Iyung mga cacique (landlords), cacique pa rin. Iyung mga
mahirap, mahirap pa rin.ĘI have always maintained that EDSA is
more of a political power grab than an ideological struggle," he

No celebrations

In Tacloban City, bailiwick of Imelda Marcos, city officials did
not celebrate the EDSA people power anniversary. Residents
said this was the first time in 13 years that the city did not mark
the event.

Mayor Alfredo T. Romualdez, younger brother of Imelda, was
unavailable for comment.

But at the provincial capitol, Leyte Gov. Remedios Loreto-Petilla
held an EDSA anniversary program "to remind the people that
EDSA restored democracy in the country."

Former city mayor Uldarico E. Mate said Romualdez should have
held an EDSA anniversary celebration regardless of his


Human rights groups angrily challenged Marcos' statements on
the victims of martial rule, saying the family was pretending to be
blind to history.

Rep. Etta Rosales (Party-List, Sanlakas), a former political
detainees and member of Claimants 1081, said Marcos needed a
"reality check."

"It seems he is in a fantasy world," she said.

"How do you expect the son of a dictator who is like an isolated
prince to know reality?" Rosales said.

Karapatan and SELDA executive director Marie Enriquez said,
"To hear Bongbong saying this, and Imee, it is revolting and
disgusting, the nerve, parang nalimutan na nila na pinaalis sila sa
Pilipinas dahil doon sa ginawa nila."

[It was as if they had forgotten that they were kicked out of the
Philippines because of what they did.]

"It's like a nightmare, iyung mga pinaalis nandiyan na ulit. This
presidency coddled the thieves, the plunderers and human rights
violators," she added.

'Historic ignoramus'

Rep. Heherson Alvarez, another political detainee, branded
Marcos "a historic ignoramus.

SELDA officials added that compensation was not the only
demand of the human rights victims. The other demands include
an apology, an admission of wrongdoing, and the prosecution of
the Marcoses.

Santos Lamban of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights
Advocates (PAHRA) pointed out that the a US court had already
awarded $2.2 billion to the 10,000 human rights victim. He said
this only showed that the Marcoses were really guilty of human
rights abuses.

Better under Erap

Marcos added that his family was receiving better treatment
under President Estrada than under previous presidents. He even
raised the possibility that the Marcos issue will be put to rest
within Estrada's term.

"The President has shown sincerity in his effort to resolve the
issues surrounding the cases, the Swiss money, including the
human rights claimants. I think there is a distinct possibility that
in his term, these issues will be resolved and put to rest once and
for all, and we as a family and we as a country can put all these
things behind us," he said.

At the same time, Marcos loyalist Cherry Cobarrubias denounced
the EDSA celebrations, saying the social and economic situation
in the country only deteriorated after Marcos left.

In a statement to news agencies, Cobarrubias expressed longing
for martial rule, saying it was one of the best things that Marcos
did for the country.

"Lalong lalo na nang si Marcos ay nagdiklara ng Martial Law,
iyan ang isang kahanga-hangang gawain ng isang lider na
protektahin ang naghihingalong demokrasya ng bayan," she
added. [Especially when Marcos declared Martial Law, that was
the best thing a leader could do to protect an endangered
democracy.] --With a report from Inocencio Maderazo

from Manila Times Internert Edition, 23 February 1999

Back to Top
Back to Tagalog Homepage