(22-25 February 1986)

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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.

By Jose V. Abueva

REPORTING on a national survey done in November 2001 which the author conducted for the UP Center for Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy, this analysis deals with the people's views and opinions on the nation's three uprisings at Edsa in Metro Manila since 1986.

In the throes of political turmoil and economic crisis and on the 16th anniversary of the Edsa Revolution in 1986, it is in order to ask what Filipinos know and feel about "people power" and its second and third application since then.

Filipinos know and understand "people power." The UP national survey we conducted in November 2001 asked what the people, 18 years old and over, understand and feel about the Edsa revolts, "people power" and democracy. To the question, "Do you know or understand the word PEOPLE POWER?" 87.5 percent of the respondents nationwide replied that they "know and understand"; 12.5 percent said they do not. In the National Capital Region (NCR), 99 percent said they know and understand. Those who said they know and understand were 93.3 percent in the rest of Luzon, 71.5 percent in the Visayas, and 82.8 percent in Mindanao. Urban respondents who answered positively were 95.8 percent; and rural ones were 77.4 percent.

Among social classes, 100 percent of ABC respondents, 89 percent of D, and 79 percent of E respondents said they know and understand people power.

Clearly, the great majority of Filipino adults affirm that they know and understand people power. To probe their response, they were asked to agree or disagree with the statement: "True people power is strengthening the political power of the majority of Filipinos." Nationwide, 71 percent agreed; 19 percent disagreed; 9 percent were undecided. In the NCR, 74 percent agreed. Among the social classes, 75.4 of E respondents, 70.4 percent of D, and 67.3 percent of ABC agreed. More rural respondents agreed (77.4 percent) than urban ones (66.5 percent).

It appears that more lower social class respondents and rural ones understand people power to mean strengthening the political power of the majority of Filipinos, including themselves who have less power and would like to have more power compared to the upper classes and the urban residents.

Next, the respondents were asked their opinion regarding the 1986 Edsa Revolution, the Edsa rally in January 2001, and the Edsa rally and march to Malacaņang on May 1, 2001. First, they were asked to agree or disagree with the statement: "True people power refers to the collective effort of citizens, like what they did at Edsa in 1986 when they toppled the Marcos regime."

Nationwide, 77 percent agreed and 13 percent disagreed, or a margin of plus 64 percent (the difference between agreement and disagreement). In the NCR, 83 percent agreed, 12 percent disagreed. Urban and rural respondents agreed in nearly the same proportions, namely, 78 percent and 76 percent. Among the social classes, agreement was 84 percent of ABC, 77.5 percent of D and 73 percent of E. Evidently, a high proportion of Filipinos associate people power with the collective power of citizens as shown at the Edsa Revolution in 1986.

A clear majority agreed Edsa II was "true people power."

Compared to the respondents' strong agreement that the Edsa Revolution in 1986 that toppled Marcos was an example of "true people power," relatively fewer agreed and relatively more disagreed with the statement: "True people power refers to the collective effort of citizens, like what they did in Edsa in January 2001, when the people forced President Estrada to resign or leave Malacaņang."

Nationwide, 57 percent agreed, 28 percent disagreed, or a margin of 28 percent. In the NCR, 61 percent agreed; in the Visayas, 73 percent, the highest agreement among the three island regions. Significantly, the clear majority who agreed that the ouster or resignation of Estrada was an exercise of "true people power" was double the percentage of those who disagreed. It should also be noted that even among Estrada's constituency, the D and E classes, 56 percent agreed with the statement, as compared to 63 percent of ABC.

More people disagreed that Edsa III was "true people power."

How did the respondents agree or disagree to the statement: "True people power refers to the people's attack at Malacaņang on May 1, 2001 to force President Macapagal-Arroyo to leave Malacaņang and make Joseph Estrada president again"?

Nationwide, 30 percent agreed that Edsa Tres was "true people power," while 49 percent disagreed. In the NCR where the event took place, only 27 percent agreed, while 59 percent disagreed. There was also greater disagreement in the urban areas (54 percent) than in the rural areas (44 percent). While a majority disagreed with the statement among the ABC class (58 percent) and the C class (51 percent), less than a majority (41.5 percent) of the D class disagreed and as many as 34 percent or one-third of them agreed that Edsa Tres was "true people power."

On the whole then, almost 50 percent (nationwide) disagreed that Edsa III was "true people power," as against one-third who agreed that it was. As much as 59 percent disagreed in the NCR where the people were more aware of the nature of the Edsa rally and the resulting siege on Malacaņang.

It may be concluded that to more Filipinos, especially in Metro Manila, and except only in the E class, Edsa III was an organized mob, not a principled revolt. It was seen as a cynical move by a disgraced and repudiated president and his allies and supporters to put him back in power in a hurry after his sudden downfall, despite his betrayal of the people's trust in the view of many more Filipinos. In desperation over their loss of power, Estrada and his allies were fomenting a class war that pitted "the poor against the rich." This explosive development provoked soul-searching among the middle and upper classes and the ruling elite.

People power is now part of Filipino political culture and behavior.

Filipinos understand and approve of people power as their spontaneous collective action to take matters into their own hands to force the resignation or ouster of a president whom they judge to be grossly corrupt and abusive of his powers, a traitor to his high office and his country.

"Tama na, sobra na, palitan na!" Through people power, Filipinos are making a moral judgment and meting out a political sentence. However, they also realize that removing a president through people power is an extraordinary act that should not be abused or perverted. The military and the police should not feel that they are the ultimate arbiter between the people and the regime as to the latter's moral legitimacy and political capacity to govern. Otherwise, democracy would be fatally disabled. The normal constitutional means of changing the president should be observed if our democracy is to be consolidated and institutionalized.

Source: 16 February 2002 from the Philippine Daily Inquirer Internet Edition <>

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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 <>

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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 <>

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By Stella O. Gonzales

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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 <>

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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 non-existent.

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 Marcoses.

No apologies

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

"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 said.

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 affiliations.


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 thePhilippines 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

Source: Manila Times Internert Edition, 23 February 1999

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