By Atty. Joey D. Lina
Mixed emotions are swirling around this week’s commemoration of the 1986 four-day EDSA People Power Revolution.
There are Filipinos who always remember February 22 to 25, 1986 as a shining period in our nation’s history – a time that gave the Philippines one of its proudest moments as international news headlines bannered the “bloodless revolution that surprised the world” and honored the courage of common folks who toppled a well-entrenched dictatorship.
But there are those who have become disillusioned. Expecting the 1986 peaceful revolt would usher in significant and positive change similar to that achieved by the bloody revolution in France or Russia, they view the post-EDSA period as a big letdown.
And gauging by what’s been happening over the years since, it’s easy to see why the EDSA spirit seems to have lost its luster. Widespread corruption, grinding poverty, homelessness,drug addiction are still around. Traffic in urban areas has worsened as the state of public transportation and mass transport. Life has been cheapened as people get slaughtered by motorcycle-riding criminals. Our criminal justice system has so much to be desired.
Expectations of our nation’s economic gains translating into inclusive growth to uplift the lives of the poor have remained an elusive dream. Underspending of public funds has hampered economic growth, so has our country’s low rankings in ease of doing business. Government revenue collections have yet to be maximized by agencies like the Bureau of Customs that ought to function 24/7.
With a gloomy description of the current situation, some are tempted to ask: Would it have been better if what transpired in1986 was a bloody revolution? Would a strong nation emerge from the bloodshed and violence with many lives lost just like in the American Civil War?
Some people believe so, saying that in a bloody upheaval,“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.”
Indeed, with the continuing grip on the country’s economy of big landlords, capitalists, political dynasties, and others comprising the ruling elite, many lament that what transpired in 1986 was merely “changing of the guards with a different faction of the ruling classes taking power by riding on the wave of the anti-dictatorship movement.”
It is lamentable indeed that the freedoms regained in 1986 seemed to have been squandered. Our country has failed to exploit the opportunity to make good use of people power to relentlessly pursue the degree of excellence in governance that could have brought about drastic results in the struggle for a more equitable distribution of wealth and an end to worsening poverty.
But for many of us who don’t see EDSA as a failure, the people power uprising was a roaring success because it accomplished what it was all about—toppling a dictatorship. That was the sole purpose why millions of us gathered for four days or expressed support for those who put their lives on the line in1986 at that vast stretch of highway between Camps Aguinaldo and Crame.
The promise of EDSA was the restoration of democracy and basic freedoms denied the people during the reign of the one-man rule of Ferdinand Marcos. Many believe that it would be unrealistic to say that EDSA also promised good governance; excellence in governance simply cannot be attained overnight. It has to be a work in progress. To drive out a dictator in just a short time can be easier, as Filipinos found out during the euphoria in 1986. Sadly, we have failed to follow through what EDSA has opened up for the country.
But it is not too late as hope springs eternal. There will always be in every Filipino the capacity to unite, rise up, and sacrifice for love of country.The willingness of Filipinos to sacrifice and rise up has been proven many times in the past — from the time LapuLapu fought Magellan, to the Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule, the Philippine-American War, and the resistance against Japanese invaders.
The Philippines is still fortunate that it has now a President whose strong leadership can bring about transformation and rekindle the EDSA spirit that ought to be exploited and maximized. We have a leader whose tremendous popularity can inspire and move all of us to utilize the same EDSA spirit in our day to day lives to achieve progress for the country.
We are indeed fortunate that President Duterte has the political will to effect change, to prod and compel national and local leaders to come up with and implement critical plans and programs to bring forth meaningful change, create jobs and livelihood opportunities, liberate marginalized Filipinos from grinding poverty.
And much hope can be expected from the Filipino youth who can improve our nation’s quality of life and bring forth an effective government responsive to the pressing needs of the people.Being the largest single block of voters, they can installGod-fearing, competent, compassionate leaders to bail out our country from its present ills. In the Filipino youth can be seen that the EDSA spirit shall always be alive.
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