• Was EDSA useless for the Filipino masses?

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    RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

    RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

    EVERY February, we commemorate the 1986 People Power Revolution, which has been portrayed by the victors as a morality tale of a martyr’s widow leading the people to overthrow the Dark Lord.

    Indeed, the morality tale was so powerful that it inspired peoples elsewhere under the yoke of dictatorships to break their own shackles.

    Just a year after the EDSA uprising, huge people’s rallies challenged South Korea’s strongman, Chun Doo-hwa, which eventually led to democratic reforms, among them the direct election of the President. Chile’ strongman Augusto Pinochet called for a referendum in 1988, triggering events that eventually led to his fall in 1989.

    Poland’s “Solidarity” movement gained momentum after 1986, with Lech Walesa assuming power in 1989. In his visit to Manila in 1995, Walesa said: “Your peaceful People Power Revolution was an inspiration to us for our own revolution.”

    From then on, it was a democratic domino effect: Poland’s people power revolution, the Singing Revolutions in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the Baltic states in 1989, the East German democracy movement that eventually tore down the Berlin Wall; and Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution” — which all contributed to the demise of a powerful totalitarian state. Even South Africa’s Nelson Mandela was inspired by our people power revolution.

    But did it matter to us? Did it change the lives of tens of millions of Filipinos trapped in poverty? Or was it useless for most of the poor?

    The chart accompanying this article says it all. The chart tracks the gross domestic product per capita (or per person)—a rough measure of the average income of the people in a particular country—at constant 2010 US dollars, in order to account for inflation in each country.

    GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT PER CAPITA: People Power didn’t lift much our economy.

    Twenty-eight years after EDSA, our major competitors in Asean—Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia—have overtaken us. Malaysia’s GDP per capita of $10.878 is a four times our $2,640; Thailand’s $5,775 is twice.

    We have the lowest GDP per capita now, at $2,640. We used to have, in 1972, the second highest, after Malaysia

    Our GDP per capita of $2,640 in 2015 was roughly that of South Korea in 1974 ($2,.692) and Malaysia in 1976 ($2,691). That means we’re behind South Korea and Malaysia by four decades. In 1972, we had the second biggest GDP per capita, after Korea.

    It’s as depressing when we look at the poverty data (see table.) Malaysia and Thailand have nearly miraculously reduced their poverty incidences (measured as as the percentage of population living below $2 per day) to single rates since the 1980s, 2 percent for the former and 4 percent for the latter. No wonder that in the past several years Filipino domestic workers have been leaving our country to serve the Malaysian rich.

    After nearly three decades, we’ve reduced our poverty incidence only by 15 percentage points and we seem to be stuck in the 40-percent levels.
    These statistics however could never capture the tragedy and horror of poverty, of children living miserable lives and dying of diseases that have been wiped out it in developed countries, of men and women wasting away in some slum shack, just waiting for death.

    So, what happened that we’re so left behind that pessimists even think that Vietnam, nearly destroyed by the world’s most powerful nation in the late 1960s and early 1970s, could soon overtake us?

    In a nutshell: Nothing much happened
    The EDSA Revolution restored the power of our oligarchs, and the country’s oligarchic structure created by colonial powers, and of course, its ideological superstructure, Spanish Catholicism.

    The religious spin given to the Revolution—the Virgin Mary was claimed to have willed it—even strengthened the backward, medieval version of Hispanic Catholicism that partly explains the backwardness of nearly all nations that that had been colonized by the Iberian colonialists. No wonder we have been unable to undertake even the weakest program for population control, making us the Asian country with the fastest-growing population—of mostly poor people.

    The cronies and big-business supporters of the dictator, years after EDSA, regained their seats in politics, business and even media. Even such a prime architect of martial law’s economic structure—Marcos’ Finance Secretary Cesar Virata—was given recently no less by our premier state university, the University of the Philippines, the honor of having its business school named after him, oblivious of the fact that Philippine business collapsed from 1983 to 1985 when he was the dictator’s Prime Minister.

    The heroine of EDSA basically restored the pre-martial law Constitution, and therefore the country’s political and economic structure, except for its provisions making one-man rule very difficult.

    Weak state, strong elite
    Our state since 1986 has been a weak one, standing not for the nation as a whole but only for the strong elites that control it. In crucial junctures—for instance the recapture of the Meralco monopoly by the oligarchic Lopez clan right after EDSA or the skirting of land reform through “corporatization” of the hacienda as Aquino’s clan did until the Supreme stopped it—the elites get what they want, at the expense of changing our social structures so our country would be more productive.

    Some even say that it would have been probably better if EDSA were a violent bloody revolution.

    In such a scenario, the oligarchs would have been wiped out, or the horror of a bloody revolution would have been such a catharsis that would force serious nation-building. This after all was the case in the French Revolution, America’s Civil War, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and its ethnic strife that led to the rise of Singapore and Malaysia, and Thailand’s bloody extermination of its communists.

    Is that such a cruel thought? Maybe, but then how many millions of Filipinos have died or will die of hunger and diseases or lived or would live miserable lives because we haven’t forged a strong nation and a strong state?

    The fact that strong states—based on a country’s strong sense of nationalism built practically on the blood of its people—results in faster economic growth is worrying. If that were the case, Vietnam, with its strong state and 3 million its people killed in the war, would soon be overtaking us. Take a look again at the chart, and it’s obvious something is so deeply wrong with us.

    It’s the sad, sad reality of this moment in history we’ve celebrated as a glorious episode. EDSA just didn’t improve much the lives of most Filipinos. We have got to move on and change things, and in our lifetimes.

    E-mail: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
    FB: Bobi Tiglao and Rigoberto Tiglao
    Archives: rigobertotiglao.com

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    50 Comments

    1. Agree too! Edsa 1 & 2 were post causes. Edsa was only for show as well as the Aquinos, Ramos, Sin, & Enrile. Let’s get Bongbong in as VP and he could succeed D30. This nation can be great again!

      • florendo abad on

        Marcos is the reason why our country is suffering up to now. They should return all the billion dollars that was deposited under his siblings name. This was proven.

    2. It was due to the “MAGNANIMOUS in VICTORY” for the oligarchs and not for the poor! ……….could there be a statistics on government career people that show the demograph about their educational background! This would be interesting!

    3. Look at the ethics of the people running the government, the elected and those in the civil service and that would tell you why the Philippines is in the dumps.

    4. maximo p fabella on

      Do our people eat 3 square meals> We do we import rice from ViEMam AND TttAILAND. tHOSE 2 HAVE outstirpped us.

      Vietnam has recovgerd from the war and devastation. s usual KULILAAT tayo.

    5. The planned coup-de-tat celebrities holed at the military camp was discovered. Fearing for their lives an effective shield deterrent was all they could pray for to make inutile that military tactical envelopment and storming. At the highway named in honor of St. Epifanio a bottleneck of human barricade insinuated by the prince of church thickened. The human shield was not meant for revolution. It was sensationalized as people’s power revolution against a 14th year reign of the hated dictator. Elsewhere the retreating saint was on standby.

      It was an authoritarian grab for control to replace the preceding authoritarian. The masses exploited for they were very useful human shields.

    6. Its true that only the elitist yellow oligarch from Makati districts benefitted these EDSA 1 .. Mas mabuti pa nga binomba na sana ni Apo Lakay ang mga Traidor sa bayan kasama ang mga madreng kinasangkapan nitong mga elitista na taga makati business club ,,Until now the Elitist Oligarch people from Makati City spearheaded by Aquino Family still reigning.

    7. Rudi Miranda on

      Bobi Tiglao maraming salamat sa iyong malalim na pag analisa tungkol sa EDSA na ito ay walang mabuting naidulot sa Pilipino at sa Pilipinas. Ang nakakasilaw na sagot sa inyong tanong kung ‘useless ang EDSA sa mga Pilipino’ ay ang pagkaka-panalo ni Duterte sa pagkaka presidente ng bansa. The win of Duterte as president in the 2016 presidential election, is a clear repudiation of EDSA. If the EDSA was useful, Mar Roxas would have won hands-down, given the LP machinery, cash to spend, plus Noynoy at the sides for name recall, however, this time the name Aquino stood for ‘having no qualities that would render it valuable or useful’ and unskilled from a lack of training, tamad at manhid. Kaya lang nagtataka pa rin ako how the Aquino myth has stuck in the psyche of some Pilipinos? Malungkot nga!

    8. Lets put EDSA people power in history we cannot turn back the clock. Let us unite now and continue our journey with renewed determination that someday our country will be great again. Lets try to embrace Federalism some country having this type of government had sustained continuous economic stability.

    9. While many praise EDSA for having been bloodless, that may be the whole problem after all. We may badly need a catharsis in order to wake us up from our stupor.

    10. Not only for the Masses But for the Middle Class as well. Dati, ABC lang classification, now its ABCDE na! Probably F is not far behind! And all because of this EDSA!!!

    11. the EDSA PP 1 was only a political agenda of the Liberal Party and the oligarchs.

      • Oligarchy is the rule of dominant class. It all comes down to that thing “money.” Most of us 93% those without the “hard cash” haven’t had much to spend and say about it. Democracy is ruled by “money” more often than without it.

        Types of oligarchy such as theocracy, plutocracy, gerontocracy, geniocracy, kritarchy, technocracy, and absolute oligarchy. Plutocracy is an oligarchy in which the group are the wealthy.

        A tyrant is one who put themselves before the law. An oligarch is one who puts special interest before the law. When democracy and oligarchy breed too much corruption the state collapse in tyrannical state.

    12. Yvette Franco on

      EDSA was disastrous to the masses of Filipino people. The evidence to this is endless…poverty everywhere, poisoned rivers, lakes and farmlands from destructive mining, several massacres of farmers, policemen, soldiers and indigenous folk, tanim bala at the airports, widespread contractualization, starvation pay levels of government employees, frequent breakdown of mass transport systems, hundreds of killings every week, narco state, expensive education, expensive health care, exodus of Filipinos to work in other countries, etc. While all of this was happening the oligarchs pockets kept getting fatter and fatter from the production of lowly paid employees.

    13. The EDSA movement and the results became a failure because instead of insisting that we have leaders who could think intelligently and rationally, we chose to accept the terms of the simple minded widow that she could lead us. How in Heavens name could we be so dumb and blind? Lead us to where? To perdition. We had intelligent people like Laurel, Tanada, Tolentino and many more to choose from but we settled for the less, the very much less. Our multitudes simply bowed down to the choice of the intelligentsia which was a very poor choice. Now that we have chosen a better one, let us support him and do away with those that want to mislead us again.

    14. We could have just as well ask the question was the life for the ordinary Filipino better ore worse during Marcos time?

      After EDSA I can remember a lot of brownouts daily, the economy crashing, skyrocketing cost of everything, the unsafe streets and violent crime after shabu replaced marijuana and 31 years after the glorious people power revolution, more corruption and incompetence in gov’t than there ever was under martial law.

      So better or worse? what do you think?

      • The deepest depression the post-WW2 Philippine economy has ever experienced occurred under the Marcos regime. In 1984 and 1985 the economy retracted by -7.32% and -7.31% respectively for comparison the US economy contracted by just -0.3% and -2.8% during the recent great recession.

        The backwardness of the Philippines was caused by no other than the Marcos regime itself. The Philippines under previous administrations of Magsaysay, Garcia, and Macapagal was one of the wealthiest nations in Asia second only to Japan.

        “By comparison with most underdeveloped countries, the basic economic position of the Philippines is favorable. . . . Through a comparatively high level of expenditure on education, transport, communications, and industrial plant over the past fifty years, the Philippines has achieved a position in the Far East second only to Japan . . . the prospects of the Philippine economy for sustained long-term growth are good.” – World Bank, 1957

      • Oh yeah like the Word Bank is our dependable friend looking after the best interest of 3rd world countries. Only proves they did’nt know what they were talking about back in 1957.

        Also notice that down slide after 1983 was when Ninoy was liquidated, that’s when Red insurgency coordinated with Yellow destabilization intensified to crash the economy.

        The taong grasa and pamilya kalsada became a common sight after the post EDSA Great Depression years. Can’t feed them with statistics? It’s not nutri-ban!

      • Furthermore:

        1982 before Ninoy was shot:

        RP peso was stable at 8+ to 1 US dollar

        1986 after EDSA-I

        RP peso plunged 20+ to 1 US dollar

    15. Samuel Santos on

      Perhaps, I repeat, perhaps, Edsa 1 could have been “fruitful” if it was/were Enrile and not Cory, who succeeded Marcos?!

      • That was the plan all along. Enrile will be the revolutionary President. But the oligarchs and the church dictated the path to Cory Aquino.

    16. “Some even say that it would have been probably better if EDSA were a violent bloody revolution.”

      I agree on this Mr. Tiglao…my only worry is that – if that scenario had happened I don’t think I’m still reading your column as I’m doing it this moment. Thanks GOD he forbid it, and now I’m enjoying reading every column of yours…

    17. Patrick M. Gonzalez on

      Mr Tiglao, tama ang mga sinasabi mo na hindi pagunlad ng Pinas after EDSA.

      Dapat muna nating isipin , EDSA is not a magic potion to rid the problems during those times.

      EDSA ay isang revolution na nagpatalsik sa isang DIKTADOR na pumatay sa libo libong tao at nagnakaw ng pera sa kaban ng bayan. Its a peoples way of kicking out a leader through a recognized method of collective repudiation through peaceful means.

      What happened after EDSA is a totally different thing.

      Hindi natin puedeng isisi sa EDSA ang mga pangyayari after that eventful FEB 86.

      • I beg to disagree with you, what happen in EDSA 3 decades ago is the biggest mistake the Filipino ever made. We replace a strong leader who has done a lot for this country and replaced it with a do nothing president and a know nothing president. Like it or not. Compare to Cory, FVR, Erap, GMA, and BS Aquino the former strongman FEM has more accomplicement than this ex presidents.

      • pablo sanchez on

        Before Edsa revolution we have a strong economy after the revolution bumagsak na ang Pilipinas dahil sa mas dumami ang mga magnanakaw sa ka kaban ng bayan at mas madaming namamatay sa gutom kesa nuon na ang mga namamatay ay mga makakaliwa na binuo ng idolong nyong si Noynoy para magpabagsak ng gobyerno.

      • Statiscally, the libo libong tao was only around 3,000 plus and the number of tortured victims is padded , according to Tiglao who is a former communist. He also said that most of the victims, killed or tortured, were actually communists like him who armed themselves against Marcos. To Tiglao, he does not want to use the victim card unlike his former comrades who say there were martial law victims but forgetting to say that they were actually communists themselves. Duterte’s administration has killed more drug suspects than communists killed by the Marcos administration during martial law. Marcos preferred to jail his enemies than kill them so most of them are still alive today like Joma Sison, Satur Ocampo, Jalandoni, and many more. So now that the dictator is dead, all of them love to kick the dead who cannot fight back anymore. Of course, even though Victor Corpus finally admitted that it was Joma Sison who planned the bombing of Plaza Miranda, the yellows and the reds prefer to omit that fact now that the truth has been revealed. In the past, I believed them when they said that Marcos planned the bombing of Plaza Miranda so I became an anti-Marcos. On hindsight, the Marcos era was actually not that bad but his enemies love to demonize him.

    18. vagoneto rieles on

      Let’s stick to the question.. “Was EDSA useless to the Filipino masses?” ..The obvious answer is .. “No, it was not.” The dictator was driven out. .of the country..and the masses had a change in how they viewed themselves. There was pride in just being Filipino.
      The fact that the new administration, then, was abducted, redirected, and taken advantage of by trusted officials; and even disrupted by an attempted ‘coup d’etat’, was just unfortunate. Unfortunate, too perhaps, was the utter guilessness, (cluelessness), of the sitting President.
      But back to the question. The short answer is “No, EDSA wasn’t useless.

      • “and the masses had a change in how they viewed themselves. There was pride in just being Filipino.”

        it’s not only the masses had change instead all of us and yes we have something that to claim of PRIDE…the question is what had change us..

        1. our discipline eroded to the lowest level
        2. we look upon our laws as an option to follow only
        3. we consider traffic laws as suggestions only
        4. we had adhere to one of communist objective (to hate our gov’t)

        ah yes… that was a PRIDE of being a Filipino!!!

      • pablo sanchez on

        the dictator was driven out and how do you consider the YELLOWS? they are worst than the dictator. they only see themselves as they are the only one who is always right and nevermind those in the lower class if they suffer for as long as those bastard elites get their profits from the government.

      • The Great Defiant on

        after 31 years it was useless.
        you didn’t need to dig deeper. just look around you.
        Fake EDSA
        Failed EDSA
        Forget EDSA

    19. The people were used to remove Marcos and never realized that EDSA was really a contrived plot about the Manila elite gaining control of the government power. We finally got the true story and put people power to work at the ballot box last year. We took the power away from the elites and handed it to a Manila outsider, who showed what he could do with a city. Now we can watch the PH improve for everyone.

    20. true. cannot argue with that. one wonders why all these realizations (?) are coming out only now. has the press been controlled by the oligarchs all these years? or were the presidents too powerful to control everything such that we needed a Duterte to speak up? or did the populace have a hangover from the supposed revolution such that they didn’t know what was going on?

    21. EDSA was brainchild of U.S. government, particularly State Dept and CIA. They used it to spread American type democracy and to thwart the spread of communism. Unfortunately for us the EDSA was used instead by the oligarch to take advantage of acquiring power and government contracts worth billions and billions. There were companies that appear overnight just for the sake of getting contracts from the yellow government. Philippines became the basket case of Asia and the laughing stock of the world because of the yellow government and our cowardness to install the real changes that we need after the fall of Marcos. But I hope this time people will not let the yellow oligarch to steal back our government. If the yellow party tries again we should make sure that we must repulse them even when it gets bloody

    22. EDSA was truly disappointing. Madaming naloko, isa na ako duon. Ang buong akala ko nuon, pagna-alis si Marcos, giginhawa ang bayan. Ang nangyari, gumihawa lang ang mga pumalit kay Marcos at hindi ang bayan. Ang masaklap pa, ang mga maling desisyon nung panahon ni Cory, simula sa pag-mothball ng BNPP, ay naging mitsa sa power crisis nung panahon ni Ramos. Sunod-sunod na po ang crisis na hinarap ng bayan mula nuon. What you sow is what you reap. The seeds of incompetence, indifference and corruption from Cory and henceforth, yielded all the problems the country now faces. EDSA was truly a letdown. The only saving grace is that today, people are more discerning and discriminating. People now feel their future is tied to the leaders they will elect into office. So I guess, the future looks bright for the Philippines.

    23. It’s rare to find a discussion/argument using appropriate statistics! How I wish median GDP per capita is an easy metric to estimate as it would highlight the skew of income inequality. An ideal democratic government is one that promotes to maximize the productivity, roughly income, of most of its citizens.

      • GNP per capita is far more appropriate for the Philippines as GDP completely ignores the economic activity of OFWs.

    24. How can anyone find EDSA a considerable factor of change in ones Filipinos lives, when many Filipinos after EDSA could not find a decent job in rheir own country which started the exodus of many professionals like doctors, nurses,, engineers and many others who had to go abroad to justifiably earn according to degree of their education.Many infrastructure developments started by Marcos, Sr, such as LRT MRT, Phl Eye center. Phl Kidney center, gov’t hospitals on all provinces and in metro Manila were left dilapidated, by Cory Aquino revoutionl govt Corruption ensued Poor farmers demonstrating were massacred in Mendiola and unsolved poor farmers killing left unresolved esp.in Hacienda Luisita therefollows the election of corrupt politicians whose only purpose was to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor, esp. the uninformed and uneducated, Rich few became richer, the poor became poorer and sought jobs as slaves (domestic helper tho they have college education) to the Middle East .And by the grace of God, a new courageous President Duterte was elected which is the only hope the many poor can count on, are being scrutinized just because he is a reformer, correcting the many abuses the previous Aquino adm failed to do.

      • You have to make a strong argument that if Marcos was not deposed, our country would have been better off for the masses. If you can not make this argument, then don’t blame the presidents after Marcos why there were not able to solve poverty.

        EDSA has no relation to GDP. It can not reduce poverty. It was en event that toppled a dictatorship and restored our democracy. It inspired other people in many other countries.

        We also can not make an analysis of per capita income or poverty statistics without factoring the growth of our population. Did Vietnam’s population grew as much as ours from 1972 to the present? Of course not. More poor people are born poor in the Philippines than in any country.

        In most countries including the USA, the rich will become richer and the poor will become poorer. . The poor carries too big a handicap and will never catch up with the rich oligarchs.

    25. Leon Guerrero on

      Mr. Tiglao simple lang ang nangyare after EDSA revolution,
      Hindi para sa Bayan ang nangyare, Kundi KAMI naman ganun lang ang nangyare kaya walang progress si Juan dela Cruz

    26. Mr. Tiglao, a very well prepared analysis. It was such a tragic indeed of what had happened to our country. Even if Pres. Digong would really try hard to make things turn around for us, I don’t think it will take one sitting of him to make this happen. I guess we need at least 5 term Dutertes (30 years) like him to be at the helm and steer our country to the spot were we are rightly belong. We have lost a lot, big time because of this STUPID AND USELESS EDSA shit…

    27. “Some even say that it would have been probably better if EDSA were a violent bloody revolution.”

      During the EDSA incident, Marcos called Aspiras, who was one of his cabinet ministers. Marcos said that he would call and send to Manila, the Ilocano army to counter the troops of Ramos and Enrile. But Aspiras stopped Marcos and said to him, “Think of the millions of people that will die if we have a civil war.”

      Marcos should have exhorted his supporters to express their support for him, when rallies and demonstrations were held left and right by the opposition when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. The demonstrations against the Marcos administration, gave impressions to the people and foreign governments that Marcos didn’t have anymore the support of the majority of the Filipino people.

      Unlike today, the supporters of Pres. Duterte readily expressed their support for him, so Duterte’s critics and opponents know now that the president enjoys a popular support of the Filipinos and the opposition cannot just remove Duterte from office.

      • Marcos have also the same public support during the first 5 years of martial law.People then saw the change that Marcos promised.Manila in fact was so clean that Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew followed what Imelda was doing but in a stricter sence,like,one will be flogged and can be sent to jail for eating chewing gum.Manufacturing plants have sprouted and the first EPZA in Mariveles,Bataan was a success.But what happenned,why did the economy collapsed in the 80’s that led to the Marcos downfall? Atty,Tiglao exactly knew the answers.Marcos took a beating locally and internationally.The opposition against Marcos continued tremendously and unabatedly in the local arena when the US allied itself with the local opposition and oligarchs with whom,the latter,also has a strategic assiciaton and partnership with the communists.Marcos,himself a true nationalist,permitted rallies to be staged left and right and lifted martial rule in 1981.The US seeing a chance,exploited the situation and degraded the the Marcos government by instigating an international halt in providing loans to the Philippines.The crisis in the middle east also added to the woes that the Marcos government is experiencing and why the BNPP was devised.The lies propagated by the anti-Marcos forces prevailed,which is why the public support that the former strongman enjoyed for almost 17 years collapsed that led to the EDSA uprising.Those lies and vilification scheme that Marcos tolerated and under estimated were believed and regarded by his supporters which is why when Cardinal Sin called for people to go to EDSA and protect Ramos and Enrile’s rebellion,Marcos’ supporters stood by and did nothing.Marcos loyalists and supporters outnumbers those that went to EDSA,but they did nothing! Why?,because as one of them,i myself had questions in my mind if those lies they are accusing the strongman of was really the truth.Because for so long a time,his government allowed those false accusations and deception to perpetrate.Leading to his eventual downfall.Duterte must learn from this mistake.The President should always remember,as i know he knew this also,that ‘ a lie repeated a thousand times,unknowingly becomes a fact ‘ if he or his spokesman do not address them.EDSA 1 must not be repeated as lies should be stopped…

      • You think only the yellowish would perish without resistance? Let the Dutertards EJKs the Yellowish and vice versa. Then let the Comelec tally the results.