Sunday, May 4, 2008

EDSA's Legacy

It was the time to commemorate the infamous People Power Revolution when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced Presidential Decree (PD) 1017: a declaration of a state of “national emergency” on February 24.

Many were terrified with the thought that the proclamation is but another name for a martial rule after immediate action from the armed forces took place. All permits to rally were cancelled, and peaceful gatherings were dispersed. Certain media outfits were also raided including The Daily Tribune and reports circulated that ABS-CBN was in a tight watch.

Suspension of classes was announced in the most unexpected time and people began to feel suspicious with what is really happening in the country. Arrests of high-ranking military officers including Gen. Danilo Lim, commanding General of the Army’s elite Scout Rangers and Police Director Marcelino Franco, chief of the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police, indicated a trouble in the armed services.

With all these events happening in a time when we as Filipinos should celebrate the potency of collective action, we are left with the question – what has happened to the legacy of People Power at EDSA?

EDSA 1, People Power Revolution is seen as the fruit of discontent when former President Ferdinand E.Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972. Marcos and his supporters under the rubric of “emergency rule clamped down on all dissent by imprisoning thousands of political dissenters, imposing rigid controls on the mass media, and restructuring the political system in accordance with a grand design to create a “New Society” wherein “political emancipation” would just be a first step towards national “liberation.”

It is this political phenomenon that united all factions in our country whether they be rich or poor, literate or illiterate, religious or agnostic, etc. towards one goal and that is to regain the democracy that Marcos had stolen from the Filipinos. This four-day protest of people who literally made the streets of EDSA a ground of hope mixed with divine providence, saw that no tanks or threat of terrorism could disperse the diplomacy of patriotism.

But today, as we experience it, our administration is bent on cracking the slightest possibility of uniting the people against them for the administration knows that it doesn’t stand a chance. President Arroyo even said in one of her speeches that EDSA 1 and 2 should be commended but there will never be a need for a People Power again as long as she’s the president.

It is exactly twenty years after the genuine spirit EDSA 1 had washed the terror in the hearts of the Filipinos who had lived to tell the tale of the grim of the dictator. It is sad however that time had changed. The situation is totally different. Before, the people who heed the call of Jaime Cardinal Sin to protect the soldiers from the wrath of Marcos administration, came because they felt that they have the responsibility to aid the worsening condition of the country. But now, we are not sure whether those people who shout for democracy are nothing but paid demonstrators out to push certain people’s interest.

Aside from that, the difference of EDSA 1 with futile attempts to stage another version of the peaceful revolution is the lack of rallying leader able to replace the president if ever she will be toppled. The problem with our leaders who denounce the president saying all the political crimes an official can commit is that they all want to replace her. In hindsight, they are nothing but opportunists ready to throw themselves to the people only if they are sure that they will be safe.

If there is one lesson that EDSA 1 had taught us, that would be this – only a genuine concern for the reformation of this country can truly bring about change that everybody is looking for.

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