EDSA was not a revolution



(First part of a series on ‘Retaking EDSA’)

A WEEK from now on February 25, a small minority of Filipino society will again congregate at EDSA to celebrate what was labeled as a revolution.

It is about time to burst the bubble and tell these people that what they are celebrating is not a revolution.
A revolution is defined by Jeff Goodwin as “any and all instances in which a state or a political regime is overthrown and hereby transformed by a popular movement in an irregular, extraconstitutional and/or violent fashion.”

He further avers that “revolutions entail not only mass mobilization and regime change, but also more or less rapid and fundamental social, economic and/or cultural change, during or soon after the struggle for state power.”

A more structuralist definition is provided by Jack Goldstone, who defined revolution as “an effort to transform political institutions and the justifications for political authority in society, accompanied by formal or informal mass mobilization and noninstitutionalized actions that undermine authority.”

One has to ask the following questions.

What are the rapid and fundamental changes that occurred after Marcos fled to Hawaii? What are the fundamental transformations in the political institutions that were triggered by EDSA? Did the justification for political authority ever significantly change as a result?

A closer look at recent history will tell us that oligarchic power is very much around. The Philippines has not become any less conservative or any more progressive because of the revolution. There is no cultural revolution. As we speak, the Filipino language remains to struggle despite the fact that it was enshrined as the national language.

In fact, if there are shifts engendered by the post-EDSA Constitution that had structural political implications, these were those that enabled the return of oligarchic politics. The abolition of the two-party system hoped to bring about the dissolution of the dynastic and centralized power of the elites. But instead of dissolving the base of local political elites, a multi-party system has only provided more spaces for oligarchic political structures to thrive. Indeed, if there is one fundamental transformation that EDSA provided for, it was the further weakening of the capacity of political parties, already co-opted by Marcos, to aggregate political interests, and has turned parties into personalistic and opportunistic havens to nurture not ideologies, but political careers.

The representation of marginalized sectors is not even an original idea, but was copied from Marcos and took the form of the party-list system that we have now. Far from becoming the sole domain for the marginalized, the system became the breeding ground for just anyone to become a marginalized sector.

Revolutions do not happen just because we plan it. In the same manner, political events do not become revolutionary just because we kick out a dictator in a dramatic fashion.

EDSA does not become a revolution just because political and intellectual elites decided to call it one. Euphoria of the moment can generate a discourse to call what we had a revolution, a people power one, one that was peaceful and non-violent.

But revolutions are not named solely because of the feel of it, or the looks of it.

An important element of revolutions is the outcome.

If one makes a serious examination of the structural changes that happened after EDSA, one will be faced with the difficulty of unearthing patterns that can be considered as truly revolutionary outcomes.

The biggest proof of the failure of EDSA to achieve becoming a revolution is the absence of terror striking the hearts of the elites that benefited from the old regime. Physical terror does not even have to be present, but only structural terror, where classes were made to undergo rapid transformation, and where political actors were forced to acquire a new ideological perspective, enough for a transformed justification for political authority to take root and thrive.

What we saw after EDSA can be labeled many ways, except revolutionary.

Politicians from the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), that monolithic party which Marcos created, just changed their party hats, reinvented themselves, and migrated into the post-EDSA political alignments. A true revolution would have sent these people’s heads crashing into a basket, or at the very least, sent them to re-education camps.

The fact that the Marcoses never left our political imaginations is enough evidence that EDSA was not a revolution.

EDSA was a military revolt led by men out to protect their personal interests who took advantage of people’s anger towards a discredited regime, and later used them as shields to escape its wrath. The whole narrative was completed by political elites who took advantage of the situation to push for a political coup of seizing power through an extra-constitutional opening.

EDSA was all personal. There was no ideological grounding. And the people were just used.

No wonder it ended up the way it did. EDSA was, for all intents and purposes, bereft of the necessary ingredients to make it truly revolutionary.


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  1. THREE DECADES since the bloodless revolution. THIRTY YEARS! What an opportunity to blot out a name equated to dictatorship, plunder, greed and abuse. The Filipino people had THREE DECADES to render an influence, powerless. THIRTY YEARS. THREE DECADES.


    30 Years is all it took for China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia to overtake the Philippines. The war ravaged Vietnam will overtake us in 5 years. And now, it will take 50 years for the Philippines to even reach the status at which these countries are now, assuming the Philippines corrects it’s course today and assuming it can.
    30 years of trying to hide that Marcos was not unique in Asia. Dictatorship was the zeitgist of the time, and Marcos looked like a kindergarten in terms of brutality and plunder compared to the dictators of China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, South Korea, and Indonesia. 30 years of writing half truths in history.

    30 years of glorifying EDSA1, which indeed the world admired. 30 years, other countries did not need the admiration of the world; they just gradually and QUIETLY made the transition from military rule to democracy. Now, other countries have proven EDSA1 was a stupid move, and they cannot stop laughing. And they won’t stop laughing even this 2016, as we will vote again the lesser evil.

    30 years of propaganda and half truths. Now, the people are free, but stupid. The most dangerous lies are those that are nearest to the truths.

    30 years, they had all the chance to make the Marcoses accountable, and 30 years they have failed. And now, they want the Junior Marcos to apologize in lieu of their failure. What a convenient way to cover their miserable failures. Indeed, the most dangerous lies are those that are nearest to the truths.

    30 years ago, there was just one plunderer. Today, there are plunderers left and right that if you total what has been plundered for 30 years, that one plunderer 30 years ago now looks like an amateur. The national budget during the military rule looks like peanuts now compared to the three Trillion budget of today. And yet, they trumpet that Yellows are of Daan Matuwid. Indeed, a lie that is repeated often enough becomes a truth.

    30 years ago, there were projects left and right. Today, there are projects left and right, but they remain in the drawing boards, instead of being implemented as before. And yet, they call that development. Indeed a lie that is repeated often enough becomes a truth.

    30 years ago there was heavy foreign borrowing to support projects. Today, we are back to heavy foreign borrowing to support non-existing projects, but just to flood the system with cash. Thus, we have a glut in real estate, a car industry driven by low interest credits, a consumer market driven by easy to get credit cards, five fold smuggling, and gambling, illegal or not. Of course, what is obtaining is a BUBBLE economy, and they call that the fastest growing economy. I call it a donut economy as it is empty in the middle. If a hostile administration takes over in 2016, of course, they will burst that bubble economy so that the next administration will have a hard time bursting the lies and bubble of 30 years. That is the truth and not a lie.

    30 years ago, there was controlled media. Today, the media men, who lost their jobs, are back with vengeance. There is free speech. They just make sure the Yellows have the loudest speech. Who needs free speech when your speech is drowned out anyway.

    30 years ago, there was curfew. Today, you can move at night, except there are criminals waiting for you. What the hell, I might as well stay at home.

    30 years ago, there were strikes left and right, but Marcos would not even dare busting the labor unions. Today, there is industrial peace, but there is also ENDO; the busting of unions have been made complete.

    30 years ago, there was poverty. Today, there is poverty, but there is CCT. The yellows want the poor to remain poor by teaching them mendicancy. It is the institution of pauperism, so that oligarchs can be institutionalized.

    30 years ago, there was no technology. Today, there is technology, and the Yellows say we should be proud of this. So, we pay the highest energy cost, the most expensive pokey internet, the highest taxes, the lowest SSS benefits, etc. Why? The Yellows have the illusions technology came from them. They live their own lies.
    30 years ago, there was one man rule.
    Today, the yellow rules, and no one man rules, but that is only so, so that people will not know who can be held responsible for all the lies that have been perpetuated all these 30 years.

  2. Revolution definition: “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system.”

    The so-called EDSA people-power in February 1986 does not fall under the above definition. WHY?
    Because only Marcos and his henchmen went away. The rest of society remained the same. There was no overthrow of one social/political class by another.

  3. As Pastor Ed Lapiz said, it is EDSA phenomenon since nothing has really changed. The things they accused Marcos of, they still continued doing. I remember Binay accusing Marcos of things he is now being accused of LOL. It was all politics and the oligarchs that Marcos had ostracized wanted to make a comeback with the help of a failed coup de etat. The reds, the yellows, the RAMBOYS and the gullible citizens just used each other to topple a perceived evil dictator.

  4. It was a revolution of the most greedy section of the elite in our society; thus, we perished in hell for 30 long years. Duterte’s ascendancy to presidential seat is a revolution by the majority Filipinos who languished in 30-year of dictatorial power of the greediest within the elite.

  5. EDSA was never a revolt..it was concieved to grab power from marcos and to put up a military and civicial junta. But was discovered by Ver and marcos, its discovery was an accident ,it was an incident in binondo wherein some of the coup plotters that was within the security of the palace had tried to ambush ongpin, he was told that to go with them but ongpin made a verification with ver and an entrapment was planned and caught some of these coup plotter they are presented then in macalanyang in a press release..one of them if i am not mistaken was captain or major aromin frpm bauang, enrile was informed of these development and marched to camp aquinaldo to protect himself and by then the media pick up what is happening,that resulted in the announcement of cardinal sin for people to go to Edsa to protect enrile, at first it was only enrile, latet on Ramos joined him and occupied camp crame…radio veritas was instrumental in asking people to join the crowd in EDSA. THIS EVENT WAS NEVET PLANNED its spontaneous, NO GOALS OT AGENDA WAS BEING SET… most people went there for curiousity, and most of the people from the slums grab the oppurtunity because of the free food… General sotelo which is a marcos loyalist defected and incapacitated the air power of marcos.marcos tried to infiltrate the coup plotters but the man he sent defected. After edsa this man a colonel fromthe was killed in qc… America told marcos to leave and they will facilitate his escape. Marcos was planning yhen to move to ilocos thru bulacan but cut short by the american . A ship was docked at manila port with a huge marine contingent in it…. When marcos announced that he is leaving ,only then cory was fetched in cebu to take her oath…and these people like tanada make a historic march but these people was never present djring the most critical moment in edsa…only buth aquino was present… Its pure power grab orchastrated by america to install a puppet..
    Cory has no plan whatsoever deals were arranged in favor for her family to takeover mosy of the conpanies belonging to the people of marcos …

  6. I strongly agree tha EDSA was not a revolution for common good of our country but a revolutionary of the outcast of that time. It was indeed supported by the contra oligarchs, with our wisest monkey friend in the west! Really there was change to worst!

  7. “EDSA was a military revolt led by men out to protect their personal interests who took advantage of people’s anger towards a discredited regime, and later used them as shields to escape its wrath…”
    Exactly. That’s just hitting the nail right on its head, so to speak.

  8. Edsa? Cory, Enrile, Ramos, Sin, Gringo, RAM were following the instructions of Habib, the american operative sent to pinas. No revolution, Enrile was attempting a power grab that went badly wrong.

  9. At least after 31 years Mr Contreras realized Edsa “revolution” wasn’t a revolution at all. I was there at that moment but no pseudo sociologist like Goodwin or Contreras can really define it correctly. Revolution is simply “a transfer of power from one class to another” Lenin. Mr. Contreras read the State and Revolution.

  10. It was plain and simple power grab. It was a CIA instigated coup. First was EDSA. Then they did it again to the Estrada government. Somebody has to tell these yellow bellied hacienderos and messianic hypocritical bishops to stop. Tama Na. Sobra Na.

  11. Edsa was a coup of the greedy, dirty oligarchs. They stole the democracy from the people and made a greedy, insatiable oligarchy.

  12. I agree. There was no EDSA revolution as such. Filipino “usi” mentality perhaps but not to die and defend whatever it was they thought they were defending. Thirty years after Marcos what has changed? Except for the “freedom” of this that and the other, and more widespread corruption.

  13. EDSA REVOLUTION was like stepping on the acceleration pedal of a car which four wheels are jacked up and only sound of the engine is heard but without any trace of moving forward.

    I am glad I never joined that outdoor picnic of the people who were used by Ramos and Enrile as their human shields. At least I can proudly say I was not a part of the circus.

    It was not EDSA REVOLUTION but simply NOITULOVER ASDE.

  14. EDSA was Aquino’s, Ramos, Enrile, Cardinal Sin and the Media (Lopezes)….Now, after 30+ years Aquino, Roxas, Drilon, De Lima, Cardinal Sin”s disciples and the Media (Lopezes, Inquirer, Rapper etc.) add Lewis to it…Domination of the OLIGARCHS!

  15. Stanley Karnow and Lyndon LaRouche has already asserted these assessments.

    They perceive EDSA Revolution as a hoax and tragic mistake@

  16. “EDSA was all personal. There was no ideological grounding. And the people were just used.”

    you described it best. we also felt elated and proud of that so-called “EDSA Revolution” because of the popular song “Magkaisa.” yun pala, ay nagoyo lang tayong mga Pilipino.

    Laos na ang People Power. Mulat na ang mga tao ngayon kung sino ba talaga ang tunay na patriot at traidor ng bayan. thanks to internet. Hindi na magpapabola ang mga pinoy sa EDSA Revolution o People Power kuno. Basahin ninyo ang mga comment sa youtube videos about Ninoy Aquino or Ferdinand Marcos at makikita mo na mostly negative na ngayon ang mga comments tungkol sa People Power, Ninoy Aquino, atbp.

  17. Also, revolutions are led by brave and principled individuals. EDSA was led by Ramos and Enrile, the two unprincipled and cowards who to avoid the wrath of Macoy, nagtakbuhan at nagsipagtago sa palda ng mga nasa EDSA.LOL