“Yung EDSA ’86 ba, kailan naganap?”
“Hindi ko po talaga alam, sir.”
The PCIJ asks young people what they know about the 1986 People Power revolution.
MORE THAN a decade ago, idealistic young members of the Philippine military had formed groups like the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and the Young Officers Union (YOU) and rushed out of the barracks to defy their commander in chief, strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos. This week, the nation marks the EDSA People Power revolt, a civilian-backed military uprising that led to the ouster of Marcos and the return of democracy to the Philippines, which most Filipinos had hoped would mean a fresh, clean start not only for the armed forces, but for the entire country as well.
Indeed, for the last 25 years, the Philippines has managed to hold on to democracy, however flawed its version has been. But reforming the military has proven to be an even more difficult task.
WE DIDN’T even hear the shots. Someone had to tell us about the gunshots outside, and then I saw Doña Aurora Aquino stand up and start praying. Roberto Coloma of Agence France Presse, meanwhile, quickly grabbed the nearest phone and began breaking the news to the world.
A few minutes later, foreign TV correspondent Ken Kashiwahara managed to slip into the airport VIP lounge, which was by then packed with people. As he slumped into a couch, he cried, ”Ninoy was shot! Ninoy was shot!”
The families that endure and survive political upheaval are more likely to be those that have a sustainable economic base to finance their participation in electoral battles. Philippine elections are costly — a congressional campaign in 2004, according to campaign insiders, could have cost up to P30 million in Metro Manila. In rural areas, the price tag is much less: P10 million on average, although campaigns can be run for P3 million or less in smaller districts where the competition is not too intense.
SANTIAGO DE CHILE — There was no other visitor in sight on a quiet, searing-hot December afternoon at the Parque Por La Paz, by the Andes foothills, site of a torture center under the regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
It was days after the death of the 91-year-old Pinochet, but Andres Trujillo, who works at the park, said there had been no increase in the number of visitors since. “This is a bit too far for many people,” explained Trujillo.
THE FATE of present efforts to change the constitution now lies in the hands of the Supreme Court — much like how it was in 1973.
Back then, President Ferdinand Marcos managed to get the highest court of the land to endorse what was an anomalous ratification of a new charter he had tailor-made to suit his needs.
THE ARROYO government’s campaign to change the constitution seems to be following a playbook written by a dictator. His name: Ferdinand Marcos.
In 1972, Marcos manipulated, bribed and intimidated key delegates of the Constitutional Convention to grant him extraordinary powers. He dangled a promise to cancel elections the following year and struck a deal with convention delegates that those who would vote “yes” to his extraordinary powers would automatically become members of an Interim National Assembly. He then set up “citizens’ assemblies” to ratify his constitution.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL convention that met in 1971 was formed because of a growing public perception that the country was in crisis and needed drastic change. There was a clamor for a new constitution, particularly in the light of suspicions that Marcos had cheated and spent heavily in the 1969 elections in order to win a second term.
If businessmen, politicians and student activists all wanted a new charter then, it was because they hoped to curtail the powers of the president and to reform what they thought was a rotten political system. The political opposition, in particular, wanted to block Marcos’s attempts to perpetuate himself in power by shifting to a parliamentary form of government.