I WROTE last week in Part I of this series: “Today … 31 years after, I am again putting on paper my thoughts, a little bit more appreciative and perhaps a little bit more dispassionate about the events that transpired – given the distance of years and the dissipation of emotions and passion that propelled us then to bring about this ‘revolution’.”
My children, Lara and Carlo, then 12 and 8 years, respectively, may only have a vague idea of the significance of the four-day events in February of 1986; though they were certainly affected by the antecedents over the years leading towards these events. We all lived in Davao during the repressive Marcos regime and saw the rise of the communists in the city making it their “laboratory”.
We lived in the outskirts of the city near the infamous Buhangin circumferential-diversion road where “salvaged bodies” were disposed of. They certainly saw the many bodies covered with newspapers during our sorties downtown.
My wife Sylvia and I tried to protect them from these realities. Several times she had to gather the kids from their rooms and sleep in the master bedroom comforting them when the intermittent gunfire from around the area came dangerously close.
I was mostly away from home from the late 1970s to 1986, contributing my share in the struggle against the dictatorship. My absences and the strain inflicted on my family I’d like to think have long been recompensed, perhaps by my hopes then that things would revert to normalcy upon the “restoration of democracy” by EDSA.
And this is the point at issue. I was both wrong and right!
I was right in the sense that a certain amount of normalcy has descended on my personal life. I was recruited to President Cory’s government and relocated my household to Manila where we were again an intact family until the children came of age and “flew the coop,” so to speak.
I was wrong on my expectations about the “restoration of democracy”. What was restored came with it too the re-establishment of the rule of an oligarchy and the continued perpetuation of traditional politics, albeit with a new set of personalities.
Many of us in the decades-long struggle for real democracy from the mid-1960s, adherents of a parliamentary-federal structure of government, were enthusiastic in supporting Cory Aquino as she was our symbol in the fight against the repressive dictatorship. We understood that she was from the elite and her values were therefore of those of her class but we were hopeful that she would transcend these with the outpouring of love and adulation shown by the masses–whose values were not congruent with hers.
A few of us recruited to her administration implored her to continue to rule under the Revolutionary Constitution to give herself more time to dismantle not only the martial law structures but the unitary system of government which we then and still now believe perverted the principles of democratic governance. We were no match for the ruling class. Cory surrendered her prerogatives to real socio-economic-political reforms by rejecting the people’s gift—the 1986 Freedom Constitution. She then proceeded to embed her dogmas in her 1987 Constitution.
This is the Constitution guarded zealously by her son, PNoy, that President Duterte and we, the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP), the PDP-Laban and the majority of the downtrodden Filipinos want to replace with a federal-parliamentary system and a social market economy (SOME).
Those were our expectations. But what were the expectations, then and perhaps now, of the others who participated at EDSA in February of 1986? First, let us identify the dramatis personae.
The Yellows 1986
We were all “Yellows” then, as this was the color we wore, after the assassination of Ninoy, symbolizing our protest against this dastardly act and our struggle to boot out the dictator Marcos from power and institute real reforms. The masses that congregated at Edsa were a motley crowd of Filipinos, from all walks of life—from the ordinary folk, some members of the elite and some of the oligarchic families dispossessed by the Marcos cronies; members of religious groups, Islam and Christians, prominently headed by Cardinal Sin and the Catholics. We all had disparate motives but were welded together by a pent-up anger against the Marcos family.
This was not a homogeneous group. The EDSA uprising was precipitated by a small breakaway group of mostly mid-level officers of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and their patron, Defense Secretary Enrile, whose plan for a putsch was exposed and nipped in the bud. It was the timely reinforcements of Gen. Ramos and his PC-INP and allies in the Army and Air Force that gave precious time for Cardinal Sin’s army to gather the people to stop the tanks and heavy artillery of Gen. Ver and saved the day. The putschists never did forgive the Yellows for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat—for saving their skin. Their revenge fell upon President Cory, who crushed seven coup attempts during her years in office.
These were the people, foremost among which was the Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan (KBL), who supported the Marcos regime and his family sucking the country dry. We the “Yellows” then booted him out–for a time. But now his minions are back and his family is politically reinstated.
(Part 3 of this article will appear next Thursday, March 9.)
The author served under four Philippine Presidents in various capacities as a member of the Cabinet and several commissions. A Harvard-educated political technocrat, he was one of the prime movers of the Citizens Movement for Federal Philippines (CMFP), one of the founders of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP), Ang Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya and the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI.)