Sa komemorasyon ng ika-35 anibersaryo ng EDSA People Power I, ipinaalala ng mga progresibong grupo ang mahabang paglaban ng mamamayan kontra tiraniya at diktadurya. Sa programa sa harap ng Department of National Defense at martsa patungong People Power Monument, hinimok nila ang sambayanan na muling tumindig para sa demokrasya.
“Talumpu’t limang taon ang nakalipas, kasama sa martsa ng mamamayang Pilipino ang uring manggagawa para ibagsak ang isang diktador. Subalit ang inisyal na tagumpay na magtutulak sana ng mga ekonomiko at pampulitikang reporma ay tuloy-tuloy na nilustay ng mga sumunod na rehimen. Pero isa ang tiyak: Nananatiling buhay ang militansya ng pagkakaisa ng mamamayang Pilipino. Nagpapatuloy ang pakikibaka para sa kalayaan at hustisya ng ating bayan.” — Jerome Adonis, Pangkalahatang Kalihim, Kilusang Mayo Uno
Sa paggunita ng ika-35 anibersaryo ng EDSA People Power, inihahandog ng Kodao Productions, People’s Chorale, mga lider mula sa Simbahan, Makabayan, Bayan, Magsasaka, Kabataan, organisasyong masa at mga aktibista ang awiting Bayan Ko.
Ang kasaysayan ng patriyotikong awit na “Bayan Ko” ay malalandas pabalik sa pakikibaka laban sa pananakop ng Amerika. Sinulat ni Jose Alejandrino, Pilipinong heneral at propagandista ang tulang “Nuestra Patria,” na tatlong dekada makalipas ay isasalin sa Tagalog ni Jose Corazon de Jesus at lalapatan ng musika ni Constancio de Guzman.
Magiit ang presensya ng “Bayan Ko” sa lahat ng yugto ng kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. Naging popular din ito sa mga Pilipino noong okupasyon ng mga Hapon. Noong 1970, tinampok ang “Bayan Ko” sa muling pagtatanghal ng sarswelang “Walang Sugat” ni Severino de los Reyes. Inawit sa mga protesta kontra sa diktaduryang Marcos ang “Bayan Ko,” at sa ilang pagkakataon ay ginawan ng modipikasyon ang liriko nito. At ganoon na lamang ang popularidad ng awit sa mamamayan kaya itinuring na sedisyoso nang ideklara ang Batas Militar. Pero paano ba masusupil ng baril ang isang awit?
Patuloy na naging bahagi ng pagpapataas ng diwang palaban ng mamamayan ang “Bayan Ko” – inaawit ng kilusang masa sa maraming larangan, hanggang sa maging awit ng malawak na alyansang tuluyang nagpatalsik sa diktador noong Pebrero 25, 1986.
Tatlumpu’t limang taon makaraan ay nanatiling panawagan ng pagkakaisa at pakikibaka ang awit na ito. Hindi kailanman nawalan ng bisa ng “Bayan Ko,” lalo lamang umiigting sa harap ng nanumbalik na diktardurya.
Muli natin itong aawitin bilang paggunita at pagpapatuloy sa diwa ng EDSA. Alalahaning nasa ating kamay ang katapusan ng pasista, korap, pabaya, utu-uto sa dayuhan at pahirap sa mamamayang presidente at kanyang mga alipores. Alalahaning hindi lang minsan nating nagawa na sama-samang itindig ang demokrasya.
Maraming salamat sa lahat na nagbahagi at nakiisa sa panawagan
Andre Bisenio para sa intrumentation ng awiting Bayan Ko
Maki De la Rosa para sa introdukstion ng bidyo
Nene Mosqueda, Music Consultant
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Diocese of San Carlos
Mother Mary John Mananzan, OSB
Msgr. Erwin D. Magnanao, Diocese of San Carlos.
Sr. Judith Diaz, OSB
Fr. Almer Forrosuelo, Diocese of San Carlos
Sr, Jeane Amar, SAMIN
Brother Armin Altamirano Luistro, FSC
Sr. Lisa Ruedas, DC
Bishop Solito Toquero, UMC
Rev. Irma Mepico Balaba
Bishop Jerome Barris, UCCP EVJA
Deaconness, Rubylin Litao
Fr. Mario Quince, IFI
Very Revd. Christopher Ablon, IFI
Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, BM
Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, BM
Rep. Sarah Elago, Kabataan
Former Rep. Antonio Tinio, ACT
Agnes Mesina, Makabayan-Cagayan Valley
Deo Montesclaros, BM-CV
Walter Villegas, Kabataan PL-CV
Dr. Carol Araullo, Bayan
Prof. Judy Taguiwalo
Ka Paeng Mariano, KMP
Prof. Sarah Raymundo
Renato Reyes, Bayan
Prof. Rommel Linatoc
Kej Andres, SCM
Dr. Geneve Rivera, Reyes, HEAD
Robert Mendoza, AHW
Vicky Aquino, AHW
Nanay Lore Benedicto, Rise Up for Life and for Rights
Isabelo Adviento, Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon-CV
Ferdinand Valdez, UMA-Isabela
Matthew Santiago, ACT Region III
Rosanilla Consad, ACT Region XIII
Kenneth Cadiang, SOS-CARAGA
Nonoy Espina, NUJP
Atty. Jobert Ilarde Pahilga, NUPL
Atty. Kathy Panguban, NUPL
Cita Managuelod, SENTRA-CV
Xandra Casambre-Bisenio, IBON and Kapatid
Clarice Palce, Gabriela Youth
Dania Reyes, ILPS-Philippines
Paul Belisario, IPMSDL
Patricia Marleni Malonzo
Justine Nicole Malonzo
Bayan, PCPR, ACT
The Philippine National Police’s efforts to block progressive groups from holding a rally at the EDSA Shrine last February 25’s commemoration of People Power 1’s 30th anniversary smacks of Martial Law tactics.
This was the complaint aired by the newly-formed Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses in Malacañang (CARMMA) as it led thousands of protesters in a march from the corner of Edsa and Connecticut Street in San Juan City as official celebrations led by President Benigno Aquino have finished.
“Nasaan ang diwa ng EDSA sa pagpigil sa atin? Bakit kailangan nating makipag-gitgitan sa mga pulis upang kamtin ang ating karapatan?” CARMMA convenor Bonifacio Ilagan asked during his speech. (Where is the spirit of EDSA in stopping us? Why must we push against the police to exercise our rights?)
CARMMA was joined by militant groups Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), and others as well as Martial Law-era activists and members.
The protest rally sought to remind Filipinos — especially so-called millenials (those born after the turn of the millennium) — of the horrors of Martial Law and how little substantial change happened under subsequent governments since 1986
They also vowed to derail Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s vice presidential bid, noting that his candidacy seems to be gaining currency among young voters.
The protesters clashed with the police which tried to block them at least three times. At the fourth barrier at the corner of Edsa and Ortigas Avenue, the police brought to bear steel barriers and a truck forcing the militant to hold a program at the intersection.
The protesters questioned the police’s show of force against their ranks, calling it ironic and reminiscent of Martial Law. They also questioned the presence of policemen, saying that there they had more important things to do than getting in the way of peaceful protests.
The police for their part said the protesters failed to present a permit from authorities, citing dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ Batas Pambansa 880, also known as the Public Assembly Act of 1985.
“Kung meron silang permit na dala, ok sana. walang problema sa amin. Pero ang utos sa’ amin is that iko-contain lang sila,” police ground commander Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo was quoted by ABS-CBN said. (If they [protesters] had a permit with them, then it would’ve been fine with us. But our orders were to contain them.)
The police blockades were augmented by elements of the Philippine Army as well as fully armed Special Weapons and Tactics teams.
A firetruck from the Bureau of Fire Protection was also present behind the fourth and final police line.
The police, army and firefighters’ combined presence failed to stop the militants, however.
The protesters pushed on with their program, with speakers recalling the importance of protest rallies in bringing down the Marcos dictatorship,
“Ipagtanggol po natin ang tunay na diwa ng pagbabago, at ito po ay hindi ang pagpapalit ng mukha ng nakapuwesto. Ito po ang pagpapalit ng power relations, ng political and social structures.” Ilagan said. (We must defend the true spirit of change. It is found not in the changing of whoever is in power; it is the changing of power relations and political and social structures.
“Ito po ay ang pagbibigay ng karapatan sa inyo, ang karaniwang mamamayan,” Ilagan added. (It is the giving back of power to you, the ordinary masses.)
Youth leader and Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo gave praise to the “brave souls who fought during Marcos’ regime, and continue to do so to this very day.”
Crisostomo also reminded the protesters that the spirit of EDSA is not about the street or shrine itself, but the people:
“Tuloy po ang rebolusyon. Huwag ninyong hanapin sa estatwa ang pagbabago. Wala sa EDSA ang rebolusyon,” Crisostomo said. (The revolution goes on. Don’t look to a statue for change. You will not find the revolution in EDSA.)—by Abril Ayad Ayroso
The reputation of the EDSA “People Power” uprising has been getting a beating these past thirty years, especially with an EDSA Dos and even a so-called EDSA Tres following the original phenomenon.
Criticisms range from valid to outlandish. That it merely installed another corrupt, elitist regime and brought back, or even worsened, the ills of the old society premartial law. That it was manipulated by vested interests and shadowy forces. That it was basically mob rule, the anti-thesis to democratic elections that oversee the orderly transition from one regime to another.
Worse, a significant number of young people have been hoodwinked into believing that the US-backed Marcos dictatorship was a a kind of benevolent strongman rule that the present crisis-ridden Philippine society sorely needs to set things aright.
It has been said that Marcos’ imposition of martial law signified the inability of the ruling elite to rule in the old way. Philippine society then was in the grip of another intense socio-economic and political crisis that was but an exacerbation of the long-running crisis of the backward, poverty-stricken, unjust and inequitous social system.
The factional conflicts among the elite could no longer be settled through periodic electoral contests. President Ferdinand Marcos was ending his second term in office and was barred from running again. The infamous Plaza Miranda bombing of the Liberal Party’s leaders was blamed on Marcos. Marcos in turn blamed the communists and his nemesis Senator Benigno Aquino.
Two nascent armed revolutionary movements, one led by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the other by the Moro National Liberation Front, were fast gaining adherents in the countryside. In the urban centers, strikes and demonstrations by workers, students and the urban poor were growing in frequency and militance, mobilizing tens of thousands. They called for and end to the “basic problems” of imperialsm, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism and the overthrow of the “puppet fascist” Marcos regime.
Marcos’ brutal authoritarian regime lasted fourteen years laying waste the best and brightest of a generation of youth who joined the resistance movement and hundreds of thousands of other human rights victims — from such prominent martyrs as Ninoy Aquino, Edgar Jopson, Dr. Johnny Escandor and Macliing Dulag — to ordinary people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It brought the economy to ruin by plundering the public coffers in cahoots with its business cronies and favored multinational corporations and by entering into onerous loans and contracts that would take decades for our people to pay off.
It transmogrified the already fascist military and police forces into the dictator’s private army and
into even more abusive and corrupt institutions. It treated the First Family akin to royalty and instituted one of the most entrenched political dynasties this country has had the misfortune of having.
To ensure continued backing from the US government, international financial institutions and the foreign chambers of commerce, it did their bidding in terms of anti-national and anti-people economic policies and programs. The linchpin was Marcos’ maintenance of the US military bases and subordination of Phillipine foreign policy to US dictates.
The EDSA “People Power” uprising signified the end of the Marcos dictatorship because of the magnitude and depth of its crimes against the Filipino people.
Exploitation, oppression and repression breed resistance. This resistance had been building up from the moment martial law was declared — armed and unarmed, in the cities and the countryside, among the people and the disaffected elite, and across the political spectrum from Left to Right as Marcos became increasingly isolated.
Ninoy Aquino’s assasination sparked public outrage that led to mammoth demonstrations. The political crisis pushed Marcos’ erstwhile backer US President Ronald Reagan to pressure Marcos to call for snap elections. Corazon “Cory” Aquino was declared the winner by the people but Marcos had himself inaugurated as president. Cardinal Sin and Cory Aquino called for civil disobedience. The situation threatened to develop into an uncontrollable political confrontation between the US-Marcos dictatorship and the broad anti-dictatorship united front.
The Enrile-RAM aborted coup d’etat triggered the EDSA uprising when people from all walks of life spontaneously poured out into the highway fronting the two military camps to act as a buffer against Marcos loyalist troops and the Enrile/Ramos-led mutinous forces. They were there not for the love of Enrile or Ramos but for their burning desire to oust Marcos and write finis to the dictatorship.
Cory Aquino was physically not at EDSA during the four-day uprising. Corystas conveniently forget this fact when they gleefully point to the inability of Left forces to position themselves prominently at EDSA because of their preceding error of boycotting the snap elections.
But it would be the height of dishonesty and political naivete to say the Left did not play a role in the uprising — before, during and after. As a matter of fact, national democratic activists of workers and students were already at Malacañang’s gates as the Marcos family prepared to evacuate courtesy of the US military.
Moreover, a cursory perusal of the names of the martyrs at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani and the martial law victims who won a landmark class suit against the Marcos estate would show indisputably that the vast majority belong to the Left, under and aboveground.
For the Left, EDSA “People Power” has left a worthwhile legacy of a united and militated Filipino people rising up against the dictatorship and overthrowing it. Unfortunately its powerful democratic impetus was hijacked and coopted by the anti-Marcos reactionaries this time led by the US-backed Corazon Aquino regime.
The promise of meaningful reform was reneged upon. Militant mass mobilizations were suppressed once more. Peace negotiations with revolutionary movements were sabotaged and jettisoned. “People Power” rhetoric was invoked to rally support for the reactionary government and to entrench the reactionary status quo. Is it any wonder that “People Power” has gained such an unsavory reputation among the people, especially the youth, leading to confusion, alienation and even cynicism?
We need to strive harder for our people to learn the hard lessons of the EDSA people’s uprising — the need for fundamental and not just cosmetic change and the indispensable requirement of continuously expanding and consolidating genuine people’s organizations to accomplish this.
In due time, the awesome power of a united people can once more be ranged against the feckless power of the ruling elite in the ultimate showdown. #
Published by Business World
22 February 2016
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
From February 22 to 25, the nation will be marking the thirtieth year of the people’s uprising that toppled the US-backed Marcos dictatorship dubbed EDSA “People Power”. Ironically, this event will take place even as Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son of the fascist dictator, attempts a spectacular return to Malacañang should he win as vice president in the coming May elections.
Indeed the Marcos dynasty is back with a vengeance.
The Marcoses have been able to hide and launder a substantial part of the billions that they plundered. They have leveraged the political patronage ladled by the dictator on the Ilocos region to reestablish their political bailiwick in the North. (Former First Lady Imelda and daughter Imee have managed to win congressional seats; the dictator’s namesake became governor and now senator giving up the gubernatorial post to his eldest sister.)
They have also cleverly reinvented themselves from social pariahs after their patriarch’s disgraceful fall from power to celebrities once more in high society’s exclusive circles.
How the political heirs of the dictator have achieved this comeback has also much to do with the way the historical judgement rendered by the “people power” uprising has been mangled beyond recognition over the past thirty years.
The ruling elite in Philippine society have presided over the continuing distortion of what EDSA People Power was all about, what were the forces that acted and for whose interests, and what was the eventual outcome. With succeeding regimes having failed to deliver on the promise of deep-going economic, social and political reforms, historical revisionism has become the order of the day.
The over-arching myth of EDSA “People Power” is its supposed restoration of democracy with the ouster of an authoritarian order. In truth only the trappings of elite or bourgeoise democracy were restored: a Congress in the grip of political dynasties; periodic elite-dominated electoral exercises; a judiciary captured by entrenched vested interests; and the mass media owned and controlled by the elite as well.
The ruling classes of big landlords, the comprador bourgeoisie and bureaucrat capitalists remain firmly in power. What took place was a mere changing of the guards with a different faction of the ruling classes taking power by riding on the wave of the anti-dictatorship movement.
There has been no genuine land reform. The Cory Aquino and all post-EDSA regimes have persisted in their blind submission to IMF-World Bank economic policy impositions such as honoring all debts of the Marcos regime; an export-oriented, import-dependent economic model antagonistic to national industrialization; trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation; wage freeze and other neoliberal economic policies that further entrench poverty, backwardness and inequality.
Subservience to US dictates with regard to US military bases and continuing US military presence in the country has defined all the US-backed regimes after Marcos.
US-designed and directed counterinsurgency (COIN) programs were serially implemented resulting in bloody human rights records for every regime that came to power. Peace negotiations with armed revolutionary movements were dovetailed and subsumed to the objectives of COIN programs.
Graft and corruption continued unabated with a different faction of the ruling classes controlling and benefitting from the loot-taking as they took turns occupying Malacañang Palace.
The restoration-of-democracy myth was coupled with the myth that EDSA People Power was a “peaceful revolution”. In truth, there was no revolution as there was no fundamental change of the political and social system to the satisfaction of the people.
What was EDSA “People Power” in actuality? First and foremost, it was an unarmed people’s uprising that brought down the hated Marcos dictatorship. It was marked by the spontaneous outpouring of the people into the streets demanding the ouster of Marcos.
But “people power” was passed off as merely the massing-up of people spontaneously responding to the call of Cardinal Sin to support the Enrile-Ramos mutinous forces. They had been galvanized by the experience of the fraud-ridden snap presidential elections that stole victory from Corazon Aquino.
The objective of the emphasis on the unorganized mass of people is to play down the role of people’s organizations that had initiated and sustained anti-dictatorship struggles throughout the dark years. The purpose, then and now, is to airbrush progressive and revolutionary forces from the historical account of the uprising itself.
EDSA “People Power” was even mystified as a “miracle of prayers“. This attempt at obscurantism was propagated by the same leaders of the Catholic Church who had given their imprimatur to martial rule and only belatedly espoused “critical collaboration” when the people’s resistance to its brutality and criminality grew and intensified.
Second, EDSA “People Power” was a stand-off between two armed camps, that of Marcos-Ver and Enrile-Ramos. The US and the anti-Marcos reactionaries as well as the organized progressive forces and the spontaneous masses occupied the gap between the two armed camps.
Violent confrontation between the two could break out any moment so it is misleading to describe it as a “peaceful” phenomenon. Only US intervention and the growing numbers of people on the EDSA highway fronting Camp Crame prevented the Marcos-Ver camp from aggressively attacking the Enrile-Ramos camp.
The role of the Enrile-RAM-engineered coup d’etat has also been overplayed. It actually failed but it triggered an open split in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine Constabulary (the precursor of the Philippine National Police). Subsequently, the myth of a “reformed AFP” was peddled to cover up the AFP’s fascist character and the grave human rights violations by the leading personalities in RAM such as then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and his aide, then Col. Greg “Gringo” Honasan.
In sum, EDSA “People Power” was the confluence of diametrically opposed forces — progressive and anti-progressive — against Marcos. Nonetheless the balance of power overwhelmingly favored the latter.
The US and the reactionary classes would determine the final outcome, the take-over by Corazon Aquino, a member of the ruling elite and a US marionette, as the chief executive officer of a political system dedicated to preserving and strengthening the status quo. #
Next week: The true legacy of EDSA People Power
Published by Business World
15 February 2016