Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Twenty three years ago thousands of people from all walks of life massed at Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) to demand the ouster of former strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos. This climactic event in Philippine history, which came to be known as the bloodless People Power Revolution, toppled the Marcos regime - ending his decades-long totalitarian rule that was characterized by corruption, official abuses, human rights violation, suppression of free speech, and a tanking economy.

More than two decades have passed, but until now pundits are still debating about the significance and contribution of EDSA. Regardless of what people think about it, I think EDSA I was an important turning point in our history. It provided an opportunity to start with a clean slate after Marcos turned the country into tatters. But the leaders of the so-called "revolution," united only in ousting Marcos, were not prepared for this ultimate objective. Political aspirations and convenience dictated much of their actions.

What Cory Aquino should have done is to institute sweeping reforms. Reform is not even the right term; the more inclusive word "change," - that is, "revoultionary change" - is more like it. A thorough and exhaustive investigation should have been done to round up all those who were in cahoots with the dictator and place them behind bars, and not allow them to roam freely as a lot of them still do now; heck, we even allowed them to assume high positions in the government. We are too forgiving a country or, should I say, too indifferent for allowing such travesty to happen.

Those who assumed power after Marcos was ousted lost sight of the fact that a revolutionary government had just been installed. It was the right time to purge the evils of the previous regime in a top-to-bottom shakedown; the bloated bureaucracy should have been cut down, projects that do not work brought to a halt, questionable foreign loans (those that only benefited private interests) reviewed and renegotiated or perhaps repudiated, iniquitous laws repealed, and personalities who helped engineer and benefited from the suppressive regime brought to jail.

No other time could have been more appropriate, politically and legally. The newly-installed government was popularly backed by the people; the international community recognized its legitimacy; and the Supreme Court gave its imprimatur of legality. As history would have it, however, the sweeping or revolutionary changes that the people expected - after putting their own lives on the line in what could have been a completely refurbished government that puts country first before everything - were nowhere to be found. (Photo from Richard Deats homepage)

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