Sabado, Pebrero 25, 2012

Feature: Remembering EDSA People Power Revolution

The Epifanio De los Santos Avenue (EDSA) has played a strategic role in Philippine milieu, both economic and historical. For one, it reflects Manila’s bustling economic activities. But looking back, this 24 kilometer stretch of a thoroughfare has been instrumental in the country’s regaining of democracy.

All eyes were on the Philippines on February 25, 1986 when Filipinos did something no country has ever done before—oust a tyrant through a peaceful demonstration. After more than a decade of oppression and dictatorship, Filipinos have finally realized the need for mass action-- a show of unity in support of democracy.

EDSA People Power Revolution has become a significant national event and its utter success in the country’s assertion of democracy has been praised and emulated around the world. In fact, other countries have made similar attempts but none comes close to the peacefulness of the EDSA Revolution.

When Martial Law was declared in 1972, several repressive acts were done by those in power, which led to uprisings from different factions. The massive human rights violations alleged on the government then resulted in the formation of various organizations/movements that asserted their own ideologies. The New People's Army and the Moro National Liberation Front were among those who called for reform. However, the differences in ideologies contributed to the rapid rise of civil discontent and unrest in the country.

The assassination of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. in August 1983 upon his return from the United States caused much outrage among the Filipinos. The dwindling popularity of former President Ferdinand Marcos and the growing resentment of the Filipinos to the incumbent government paved the way for a snap election—seen as a strategy to appease the agitated citizenry. Ninoy’s spouse Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino was the main opposition. The results of the election caused further outrage as the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had declared Mr. Marcos the winner. The National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) had a tally quite the opposite of COMELEC’s. The sympathy of the masses was with Mrs. Aquino.

The questionable outcome of the snap election pushed the Filipinos’ tolerance to the limits and the clamor for a new leadership grew stronger. With the initiative of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces Vice Chief-of-Staff and soon-to-be President of the Philippines Fidel V. Ramos, plus the call and encouragement of Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin through the Radio Veritas, a revolution was staged on the EDSA. Thousands of Filipinos marched the street of EDSA with one common aim: to end dictatorial regime and bring back democracy through a new leader.

Not only government officials, some of whom resigned from their posts, but also celebrities, professionals, religious personalities like priests and nuns, students, ordinary workers, etc. trooped EDSA and shouted democracy. With courage, the people stood in front of tanks and soldiers, holding rosaries and saying their prayers. The demonstration was not just a show of unity; it was a show of faith.

With the power of prayers, the armed marine troops under the command of Marcos withdrew from the site. And in the morning of February 25, 1986, Corazon Aquino took the presidential oath of office, administered by the Supreme Court Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee. She was proclaimed the 11th President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Marcoses then fled from the country.

This was the end of Martial Law and the revival of democracy in the Philippines. The revolution not only freed the nation from the shackles of dictatorship, it gave the people renewed hope of better governance, better economy, better lives.

EDSA People Power Revolution is a demonstration of the true democratic process and a celebration of a free country which our heroes from the time of Lapu Lapu to the time of Rizal and Bonifacio until the time of modern-day heroes have fought, struggled, and died for. 

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