Monday, February 21, 2011

People Power Revolutions

There's a wave of revolutions sweeping the middle east, but not the ideological revolutions of the past characterized by bloodshed and carnage. It is the bloodless revolution of the people: from the streets of Tunisia that has unseated President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tahrir Square of Egypt that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the streets of Bahrain where there is currently an ongoing clamor for reform, to the streets of Libya that is now threatening the long-running despotic rule of Moammar Gadhafi.

No one could relate more to what is happening in the middle east than us. Twenty five years ago, thousands of Filipinos flocked to the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue, popularly known as EDSA, to demand the ouster of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos. As history would have it, Marcos was eventually driven out from power by the sheer voice of the people, without guns and bullets.

A few days from now we will be celebrating our preeminent people power revolution. No matter how things turned out thereafter, this event should be remembered by every Filipino, and a stark reminder to our leaders, how the people can elect into - as well as remove from - office a leader no longer worthy of the people's trust and confidence.

Years after the first EDSA, people could be heard complaining, even from among the key players themselves, that things have not changed, if not gotten worse. What these people do not understand, however, is that revolutions are only half the battle and the difficult task of nation-building should come next. Revolutions only pave the way for change. They, of course, change those in power, which is the first most important step toward instituting reform.

After the ouster of a corrupt and despotic regime, the people's revolutionary fervor must continue by seeing to it that change is in fact effected. Hopefully, the events that have unfolded in Egypt and Tunisia will be indications of this. In Egypt, even after the ouster of Mubarak the people still massed at Tahrir Square to celebrate, with a caveat to the military that they could as easily gather to protest if the change they are demanding were not effected. In Tunisia, even after the departure of Ben Ali, protests continued until the care taker government removed from office all of Mubarak's party mates.

EDSA I, as it is now called to distinguish it from the succeeding protest that unseated former president Joseph Estrada and that which sought to unseat former president, now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, should be cherished for ending Marcos's oppressive regime and restoring our democratic institutions. That many of our countrymen still suffer from abject poverty and corruption is still widespread in our civil service should not downplay the significance of that revolution.

It is in the second half of the battle - that of following through with the gains of the revolution - where we have stumbled. That responsibility should equally be shared by us and those whom we have seated in power.

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