Freedom, after 29 years?


In marking the 29th anniversary of EDSA-I today, we could inquire, what happened to the Filipino nation which “people power” rescued from the Marcos “dictatorship” and returned to “democracy”? Under mounting pressure to step down because of his failed command which led to the massacre of 44 Special Action Force police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, President B. S. Aquino 3rd has downgraded the celebration for reasons known only to himself. But Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, will be presiding over a solemn High Mass at the EDSA Shrine at noon, to “celebrate 29 years of freedom,” according to the church announcement.

I felt something run inside me when I heard that sound bite at the Shrine yesterday. Obviously, not much thinking had gone into it; but perhaps an innocent parish clerk had composed it: we sometimes use words because they sound good, without bothering much about their real meaning. But for those who know the meaning of words and what goes beyond words, our freedoms and democracy have been savaged these last four years by the very forces that were supposed to protect them from harm.

Not even at the height of martial law did the State impose its will on the most intimate private lives of Filipino couples. But that is now Aquino’s gift to the nation, and the Supreme Court can only say it is “not unconstitutional,” despite its occasional stab at courage.

From 1986 to the present, we have had five governments. The first and the fifth were presided by mother and son, both surnamed Aquino. The jury is still out on who was (who is) the more disastrous of the two. Neither Ferdinand Marcos, the most maligned after he fell, nor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who was removed after two years, nor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was hounded by questions of corruption and illegitimacy and has been jailed by the incumbent, is any longer in competition; the contest now seems limited to just the two Aquinos.

Corazon Cojuangco Aquino rode on the crest of the people’s grief over the 1983 assassination of her husband, Ninoy Aquino, and the euphoria over the people’s victory at EDSA. For six and a half years she sat in the presidency with neither vision nor mission nor art nor science, first as revolutionary president for the first few months, and then as unelected and non-performing president for the next six years.

She discarded the Constitution and issued a new one, restored the old oligarchy which Marcos had tried to abolish, presided over a crooked 1987 senatorial election where only two opposition candidates, instead of nine or ten, were allowed to win, scrapped the national energy development program and nearly everything else that bore Marcos’ name, and sent the country to a new Dark Age with ten to 12 hours of daily power blackouts. Under her successor Ramos, I had to sponsor the Electric Power Crisis Act in the Senate to bring back the electricity supply, at such punishing cost to the consumer, which we are still paying for to this day.

Although physically absent from EDSA, Cory became the most important “beneficiary” of the restoration of democracy, which was the handiwork of all Filipinos. But in a very short while, she was marketed by her propagandists, without any objection on her part or from her crew or choir, as the one who “restored” democracy to the Filipinos. This has remained part of the official propaganda, which is regurgitated in the media every once so often, particularly during Aquino-related celebrations.

Non-performing senator becomes president
Upon her death, B. S. Aquino 3rd was machine-elected as president, despite his utter lack of program or evident fitness for the office. He was on his third year as a non-performing senator, after having served three unremarkable terms as congressman, representing his district in Tarlac. He had never been mentioned as a presidential possibility before, but when Cory was on her deathbed, his political handlers decided to use her death as a staging point for his candidacy, just as they had used his father’s death in 1983 to propel Cory to the presidency.

It was necropolitics at its best (or worst), true to what one British statesman once said, “that in politics, so long as there is death, there is hope.” Indeed, it turned out to be so much undeserved (and also unused) opportunity for Aquino, and so much misery for the Filipinos.

Using his sister Kris Aquino’s hold on the ABS-CBN celebrities and the showbiz media, the propaganda polling firms controlled by relatives and friends, and the usual pillars of our well-known inanities, Aquino quickly managed to become a presidential candidate, after persuading the long-declared presidential wannabe Mar Roxas to become his running mate instead.

In the ensuing debates, he performed rather poorly beside his own cousin, former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, the brightest of them all, and the Arroyo administration’s official candidate. On the campaign trail, he failed to draw as big and enthusiastic a crowd as the former movie star Estrada.

But he waged the most vitriolic and toxic campaign against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom Cory had unsuccessfully tried to oust from office after the infamous “Hello Garci” tape-recording of her conversations with the former Comelec commissioner Garcillano during the 2004 presidential elections had surfaced in 2005. He promised an “incorrupt” government through his brainless slogan “kung walang corrupt walang mahirap,” (the poor would not exist if corruption did not exist), which none of the other players exposed as nonsensical and bankrupt.

Then he propagated the audacious claim, supported by paid propaganda surveys, that he would win by a plurality of five million votes over his closest rival, but that he would be cheated by Arroyo, so he would have to stage “people power” to claim his due. This so intimidated Arroyo and her top supporters that they were forced to negotiate a “modus vivendi” with Aquino.

They assured him of his five-million vote plurality, without having to resort to “people power,” provided he would not go after Arroyo. So Smartmatic took over and all the security features and accuracy mechanisms of the precinct count optical scan machine were disabled to guarantee the desired results. Then US Ambassador Harry Thomas and other Western diplomats extended diplomatic recognition to Aquino as president-elect, by visiting him at his residence, even before the official count could be completed and he could be proclaimed officially elected.

The “modus vivendi” appeared to hold until some critics started asking rudely about Aquino’s program of government. He obviously had none, but to show that he had one, he decided to go after Arroyo with plunder charges, and moved for the impeachment and removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona by physically bribing Congress to implement his project. This became his entire program of government.

He has since jailed three opposition senators on charges of plunder while extending absolute protection to his political sycophants and cronies involved in various anomalies, beginning with the manipulation and misuse of the humungous pork barrel system, which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional.

He has committed all the impeachable crimes mentioned in the Constitution. But because he has committed most of them in complicity with the members of Congress, who hold the power of impeachment and removal, he has remained unimpeached. The Mamasapano massacre , however, has changed all this. They are talking of impeachment, but demanding that he “step down” to pay for his crime.

This was first raised by the National Transformation Assembly in Lipa on August 27 last year, because of his numerous constitutional violations. But it has intensified after the massacre. Malacañng and its Congress allies are trying to do everything to perfect the cover-up, but not all the lying that has come out of the Palace and the Senate hearings has succeeded in diluting Aquino’s unexplained accountability for the massacre.

Lone official left in command
Aquino was the lone official left in command of Operation Exodus, after he had removed the Interior and Local Government Secretary, and the Philippine National Police Chief from the chain of command. From his monitoring station in Zamboanga City, he alone was in a position to order the reinforcement to the fallen 44 to “stand down,”or to reverse and cancel such an order if it had come from somewhere else. So the 44 were killed under his watch, no matter how you slice it. Aquino may not agree that he has committed treason, but the least he can do is to apologize to the nation and step down.

This has been the call of the NTC, which has been echoed by so many others. But in an unexpected turn of events, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has warned members of the NTC that they could face criminal prosecution for demanding that Aquino step down. They have not violated a single letter of the law in calling for Aquino’s “stepping down;” Aquino on the other hand has totally destroyed the Constitution, and the ties that bind a president to the police, the military and his own people.

Because of its absurdity, De Lima’s warning does not strike terror into our hearts. But it threatens to replicate the image of that Nazi beast whose proud boast during his reign was that all he had to do was to draw his German pistol every time anyone tried to reason with him. Is this our “freedom after 29 years?”


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  1. Cory Aquino:
    A Nobody (Housewife) Who Led a Revolution 29 years ago today February 25, 1986.

    Any attempt to overthrow PNoy’s administration (incl. Binay) will be futile. Our people is not convince with or can’t accept possible Leaders to takeover Government, since all are products & allegiance to Aquino’s – VP Binay, Senate Pres. Drilon, Speaker Belmonte and Chief Justice Sereno.

    Proposed temporary caretaker government by NTC (consisting bishops/cardinals/pastors) is also not acceptable due to separation of Church & State.

    To Change our current line of Corrupt/Incompetent Leaders & Flopped Political System, we need to create & support a symbolic NOBODY.

    Cory Aquino entered politics as a plain housewife (a NOBODY @1st glance) w/out any experience in politic, and yet she was a Key player (instrumental) @ overthrowing a Dictator.

    But @ 2nd look she is:
    1.wife of famous Politician Ninoy Aquino – assasinated (got sympathy vote).
    2. belong to Tarlac Oligarchy – rich clan & powerful political dynasty.

    Thus, I will not consider her a Nobody (Simple/common TAO) that can really represent, truly understand/help the poor, and had directly experience/relate to all our problems.

    Because of the rampant/blatant corruption and obvious incompetence (dumb/stupid) in our politicians today-NOBODY should be our choice in Voter Ballots

    If None in the current List of Politicians are clean (TRAPO-dirty/corrupt) or cannot be trusted and none seems to be competent (sharp), young or in good health. 

    Vote NOBODY for President 2016
    – a simple common Tao who is:
    1. competent & sincere enough
    2. sole purpose/motivation is to serve & protect our people
    3. Attune to hardship & pressures
    4. willing to be accountable
    5. accept responsibilities,
    6. a True Statesman
    7. capable to inspire others (Transformational Leader)

    Don’t Just Vote for NOBODY. Get out there and ACTIVELY CAMPAIGN for a Nobody (non-politician) who you think can LEAD us Toward a Better & Safer Future.

    If a majority of our people voted for NOBODY or “None of the Above” rather than, “the lesser of evils,” it might force a situation where Voters would have to find someone competent to lead them.

    [But be sure the PCOS machines will count your vote]

  2. “Rescued”?! what rescued? na-budol-budol kamo mga pilipino….
    we all got screwed. aminin na natin yun. the first step to getting smarter is to first admit we were stupid.

  3. There is NO other choice but to junk BBL. It is unconstitutional. It divides the Philippines into sub-nations, which will evetually permantly divide the Philippines into Secular and Christian, and Islamic nations.

    Junk BBL for good!

  4. Under mounting pressure ba kamo si Aquino to step down from the Presidency? Pressure from very very few people like you. Ang patunay na walang suporta sa nakararaming mamamayan ang panawagan ninyong pagbibitiw ni Aquino ay ang nilangaw ninyong rally. Nagtataka rin ako kung bakit sumasali ang iilang mga pari sa panawagang yan dahil sa separation of church and state. Ang dapat pagtuunan ng pansin ng mga paring yan ay ang malawakang usapin ng pangmomolestiya ng ibang mga pari sa mga kabataang babae at lalake hindi lang sa Pilipinas kundi sa buong mundo. Dapat nilang linisin ang isyung yan dahil sa aking palagay, yan na ang pinakamasahol na krimen na magagawa ng isang tao.

  5. MARCOS MARCOS PARIN ANG IYONG SIGAW Palibhasa nagtampisaw ka sa ligaya at kasaganaan nuong BATAS MILITAR kaya hanggang nagyon nangangarap ka pa na makakaupo ka muli. Aminin mo kasabwat ka ng regimeng Marcos sa pagpapahirap nuong martial Law yan ay isang peklat na na di mabubura sa isipan ng mga tao. Yun idea ninyo ng NTC nilalangaw pati si Cardinal Vidal inyong niloloko sa inyong balak na makabalik kayo….

  6. Bert O. Romero on

    This is now. What will become of us 13 years from now when, not if, another Aquino – Senator Bam or Entertainment Queen Kris – becomes president? Will it be another six years of disillusionment?

  7. Krissa Salcedo on

    Sa sobrang loyal at sipsip ng mga kaibigan ni Gloria Arroyo,malamang makulong din sila dahil sa coup plot na yan. Magrereunion sila lahat sa bilibid

  8. Bobby salarzon on

    Ngayon pa lang napahiya na ang mga anti-Pnoy group dahil hanggang ngayon iilan lang ang mga sumali sa protesta nila laban kay PNoy haha

  9. It’s funny you never mentioned the human rights abuses during your time, the closure of Congress, censorship of the press and any form of dissent that was usually met with torture and even murder. This is a regime that you so helped to perpetuate. We are definitely living in better times.

    • Better times really? With the rise of many factions of NPA, Terrorist groups nowadays.. not mentioning the rise of crime on the streets (riding in tandems and the like) and also the Bicameral system that was revived on the 1987 constitution as a result, the congress became more of a breeding ground of corrupt officials from left to right. And that was the legacy of the so-called EDSA People Power Revolt. A change to the worse so don’t you be blind, please…

  10. Congrats Senator Kit Tatad for your analytical and erudite articles. Do you know why until now, Cory and Abnoy did not exert extra efforts to unearth the real assassin of Ninoy? The Aquinos wanted the death of Ninoy to remain unsolved because they wanted Ninoy’s death would create sympathy from the people so that Kris Aquino would again be the beneficiary of the people’s sympathy to propel her to the presidency. Cory, when she was president could have utilized the power of her office to find out who the assassin of Ninoy was. And so with Abnoy.The Aquino family is so selectively vindictive to their perceived enemies but over protective to their friends and yellow supporters. 2016 is too long to wait for Abnoy to step down. The people are too timid to rise and kick out ABNoy. This is bullshit $%%^^&&*()

  11. Jaime Sandoval on

    EDSA was a fake revolution!

    Initially a huge protest against the government, it was taken over by the opportunistic rich elite to use the people power to grab power from a duly re-elected President Marcos.

    This elite group was hugely orchestrated by the CIA.

    President Marcos was targeted by the CIA for regime-change. Because, Marcos refused to be a puppet and stooge of the USA.

    Marcos was a brave great Filipino Leader who upheld Philippine Sovereignty by removing all American military bases from Philippines’ National Territory.

    President Marcos was not a dictator. He was authoritarian leader. Development of the Philippines and improvement of the Filipino people were greatest during his tenure. His Land Reform emancipated farmers. If Marcos did not declared martial law, we could have lost the Philippines to the Communists and suffered not unlike the “killing fields” of Cambodia.

    After 29 years, the Philippines is still a sad Third World country whose emblem is the world’s worst international airport.

    With the proposed BBL, the country is in a real and present danger, that its National Territory apportioned, given away to a foreign power by Congress and Aquino.

    Implementation of this proposed unconstitutional apportionment of the National Territory to foreign power will see its disintegration before the eyes of the Filipinos.

    All these sad 29 year-period which is the result of that fake fraud EDSA revolution is the Dark Ages period of Philippine History.

    History will absolve the great Filipino Leader, President Marcos.

  12. Your article explained everything, how 1986 Edsa (which should not be called People Power) for the very fact that it happened only to serve the special interest of the few ,so Cory Aquino’s would have the power to hold on to Hacienda Luisita which legally belongs to the poor farmers , the fate of poor farmers demonstrating peacefully were met with deadly bullets while they were trying to claim what is theirs in .Mendiola leading to poor farmers death happened when she was “kuno” the President. And the poor became poorer, the rich get richer, and jobs were not there for many college graduates at home and they ended up seeking employment elsewhere abroad as OFW as domestic helper etc. Corruption is the normal practice by elected politicians at the expense of the their constituents. Its worse after 29 yrs.

  13. Claro Apolinar on

    We are under the rulle of a PCOS-machine produced president whose intellectual, psychological, psychiatric handicaps have turned our imperfect but viable Republic and more-or-less democratic state a dangerous place to live in.

    There is even no hope that in less than 14 months we can have a new and better president as a result of the 2016 elections There is no such hope unless the Comelec-Smartmatic-PCOS machines control the results of the election, which was the case in 2010 and 2013.

    They only hope for something better is in the miracle The Manila Times wrote about in an editorial a week or so ago. .

  14. Wala po papuuntahan ang NTC… Why not form a new political party guided by the principle of NTC… Endorse by cbcp. Pwede po si Gibo as pres, Adel Tamano for VP And the likes of Paolo Rico Quicho for senators,dapat po young and not tainted… Dapat hanggang congressmen complete ang political party so that there will be a total overhaul sa gobyerno

  15. Senator Kit Tatad – I Salute you for this column.
    Bravo – Mabuhay
    Long live “Kit”
    Long live “Manila Times”

  16. The Abnoy is on the march again “persuading” 20 congressmen to pass the BBL in Congress. What the persuasion was, is anybody’s guess. Suffice it to say, that after all the circus and the shouting in Congress by Congs. Rufus Rodriguez and Biazon were meant to call the attention of the “squatter ” in the palace and to sound off their malleability. They came out of the palace shouting hossanahs for the Abnoy declaring he has been lied to. What transpired in the palace is anybody’s guess.

    The BBL is on the roll again.