Thursday, 19 February 2015

EDSA: a frustrated Pinoy copy of the Portuguese experience

EDSA: a frustrated Pinoy copy of the Portuguese experience

"A Miracle!" 
"Our prayers has been heard!" 
"The power of God is in us!" 

These were the statements commonly exclaimed by people several years ago, when the combined forces of the discontented mutineers, civilians, clergymen, all united with "divine powers" had toppled  20 years of fascist rule in the country.

That four day saga, popularly described as a "Revolution", had installed a "new" government, a "renewed" democracy, and others that much likely end as statements and less of actions taken. But amidst the crticism, that generation had an intense feeling of pride to have a peaceful revolt, of rosaries and yellow ribbons over tanks and guns.

And still trying to instil to the present. A renewed democracy, an empowered people, a united populace; yet on the other hand a nation in shambles, a ruling system still in power, an American puppet. News reports had blared how the late President Corazon Aquino exclaiming a new nation has risen from the ashes of the dictatorship, a people empowered by the so-called "Revolution", so are the scenes that featured people pushing tanks if not giving sandwiches to the soldiers and praying for a miracle. In everyone's face it tries to create a ray of hope for others, trying to invoke a society that was newer than the new society of its repressive predecessor.

Yet, as what this writer said, of a ruling system trying to keep firm its power, a nation in shambles, of being an American puppet masquerading as a patriot, the spirit of EDSA rather reminds everyone only of shattered dreams, disillusionment, for the system that speaks largely of change, renovation, innovation, empowerment, revolution, are rather scraps of paper thrown in the dustbin of history, while continuously acting as a reaction in front of a suffering, yet still promising populace.

Disgruntled aspirations

"Cory Aquino has betrayed the people!"
"CARP is a Sham Agrarian Reform!"
"The system of government didn't change. The sufferings of the people became worse."

These are the statements people exclaimed years after the said revolt. Just as said earlier, instead of realising major socio-economic changes expressed during those days of protest, the system rather opened a can of worms, reactions masquerade as solutions to an age-old crisis prevailed. 

For, as according to Prestoline Suyat's DAWN article made last 1990, disgruntlement continues despite former President Aquino trying to invoke changes in the society. Her regime, clinging to its compradore-landlord roots, means strapped to the wishes of multinational lending institutions, sham reforms, a prevailing semifeudal-semicolonial rule marred by protest and opposition. No matter what they say about economic impovement, still poverty and discontent thrives amongst lower middle to lower classes.
That year, said Suyat, workers and lower-income professionals invoke strikes and a series of mass actions, telling that The minimum wage ranging from 2,080 to 3,240 pesos as not enough to feed families as well as to paying needs from electric, water, to tuition and other fees; while farmers described Aquino's CARP as a pro-landlord program. Both these people struggling were also suffered from a series of human rights violations coming both from the military and other officials which was comparatively higher than what was recorded during Marcos time, despite the fact that the government was only four years old: for Private armies were recorded at 152, crime rings and syndicates pegged at 411, while 20,000 crime-related cases remained pending at the Department of Justice, hence slow-paced to hopeless.

These figures did somehow likely for the people to vent rage on that administration, describing it as a failure in materialising what the former President vowed to achieve in her promises at EDSA. That even until today those same issues continue to prevail with different names. The system continues to instututionalise austerity measures and allocating large chunk of national budget to debt servicing, insisting a pro-landord "Agrarian Reform" that is "extended and reformed", while workers and low-earning professionals asserting 16,000 peso national minimum wage increase, and other calls that all meant social justice. Again, for the ruling class, their struggles meant destroying the moral fabric of the society, hence liable for persecution, even death or disappearance like what Cadapan, Empeño, Jonas Burgos, victims of Maguindanao and Hacienda Luisita massacres, and others faced death or disappearance decades after that said "revolution", and still crying for retribution.

A frustrated Pinoy copy of the Portuguese experience

Sorry to say this, but that revolt happened at EDSA is likely to be a frustrated copy, if not an almost scenario of what happened in Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal eighteen years ago. That said revolt was also full of people, united to support the struggling mutineers and concerned men in uniform calling for social change, that hence toppled a decades old regime known for its repression underneath the veneer of "tradition" and "conservatism".

Pardon this writer's statement, but come to think of this, besides being started as a martial affair of disgruntled men in uniforms (like Spinola and Cravalho), the Portuguese people were also tired of what Salazar, Tomas, and Caetano did to their country. These people simply went out to the streets (Despite repeated appeals from the revolutionaries on the radio asking the population to stay home, thousands of Portuguese descended on the streets), fraternize, chanted slogans against the regime, provide support such as food, drink and chitchats, and gave red carnation flowers to the mutinied men supposed to be fighting at Mozambique and Angola. While the Philippines, whose people also "tired" of the "New Society" did follow the message of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin to join the actions as Enrile, Ramos, Honasan, and others within camps Crame and Aguinaldo desperately needed support in their "Rebellion", while Left-wingers like Alejandro and Tanada tend to mobilise at Mendiola and other outskirts of Manila. 

However, the results were quite different, as in really different. Both did acclaim what people power was, but the Portuguese did provide significant realisations instead of mere changing of faces; rebelling soldiers like Vasco Gonsalvez did call for social change to the extent of becoming Left in its implimentations (like nationalisation of banks for instance) while men like Honasan, Ramos, Enrile rather trying to appear populistic yet obviously reactionary like Marcos and Ver (hence making the Left annoyed despite acknowledging the fall of the regime). Media networks like RTP and Radio Clube Portugues did told about incidents such as people killed during the actions in Lisboa's streets (As elements of the Portugese Secret Police, desperate for escape, fires on the crowd surrounding its headquarters, killing 4 people and wounding 45), while the Philippines, especially with its media like ABS-CBN insist that the "revolution" was entirely peaceful with all the prayers and yellow ribbons yet there were incidents of loyalists killed in that conflict such as in capturing broadcast city? Remember, one loyalist sniper was killed at the Television tower by a mutineer. 
And lastly, Portugal did go beyond from its sectarian nature of the topped regime (one example were Schools include a crucifix and a picture of Salazar hanging in its wall) and becoming a secular, laicist society; while the Philippines continue to cling to its "cherished" pasts, one of which is its "Christian" fatalism, as statements coming from its participants, and even the preamble of the present basic law at first appeals to God.

Realising supposed goals no matter how "frustrated" it was

To summarise it all, the revolt at EDSA was all but a frustrated version of what happened eighteen years ago in the streets of Lisboa; it happened that there were major differences in its conclusion: one did made a country least realise the aspirations of the people, the other end with shattered aspirations and hence continue to be asserted by those whom concerned. If men like Vasco Gonsalvez had afforded to impose agrarian reforms, Filipinos has to wait for a man like Vasco to impose it straightforward rather than in a form of sheets of paper like what the landlord Aquino and its successors did.

But on the positive side, it shows that Filipinos, like the Portuguese, can able to make it happen just to overthrow a dictatorship; happened to be mobilised by the clergy and various organisations, of yellow ribbons, sandwiches, and a series of Christian "Agape" love in order to win hearts and minds of the loyalists. Sadly, remnants of that past regime, as well as the oligarchs and people pretending to be progressive did overturn the succeeding events that supposedly likely to follow what happened in Lisboa, Teheran, or Managua as the really passionate for genuine social change wanted to sought for it.

Anyways, come to think of this, behind the veneer of peace even in a so-called "peaceful revolt" there's bloodshed to happen, no matter how minor it was there's bloodshed that is likely to be happen, it's just that the media tries not to show it for the sake of asserting how peaceful the revolt was; chances of bloodshed doesn't mean the number of people being killed or wounded, but chances of people willing to sacrifice out of cherished principles.

Today, as what been said earlier, the system continues to thrive in repression underneath the sheet of freedom. That farmers are still clamoring for land, workers for bread, soldiers for peace, people for justice. Perhaps they would even go beyond the parameters of "peace" and "legality" knowing that there's bloodshed waiting to happen from the system and its apologetics, of reaction and counter-reaction trying to appease using various terms to the people the way Honasan tries to be like Cravalho, Enrile as Costa Gomes, Ramos as Spinola.

Only time will tell when those shattered aspirations from that frustrated Pinoy copy of Portugal, if not from Iran, or Nicaragua, be realise.