Is EDSA still relevant to Filipinos? I was 20 years old at that time and about to graduate from college. I spent my college years protesting against Marcos after Ninoy Aquino’s death in 1983. I was convinced that then President Ferdinand E. Marcos was evil and the Aquinos were good because of what I read in the papers and what our professors lectured to us about how we needed to get our freedoms back.
But I wasn’t a blindly obedient follower. I was born and raised in San Miguel, Manila so I got to see the comings and goings of Apo Lakay and Madame First Lady Imelda Marcos on J.P. Laurel St. We were also allowed to enter Malacañan Park at the other side of the Pasig River, which was the headquarters of the Presidential Security Command on our bikes. This is where Marcos would play golf with his closest associates such as Herminio Disini and Rudy Cuenca. I saw first-hand how Imelda would leave early in the morning onboard the PNR bus she used as her primary vehicle when she was Metro Manila Governor and not return until late at night. The Greater Manila Area then was kept clean by her army of Metro Aides. She treated the expanded capital as part of her household and kept things in order.
The reforms promised by Cory never came and the minute she reneged on her agreement with Doy Laurel, I realized that she wasn’t going to be what she said she would. The Constitutional Commission brought back the Senate and the House of Representatives along with the gridlock and the political dynasties. It was all downhill from there. EDSA wasn’t a revolution. It was a failed coup attempt by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), turned successful through American intervention. The plan was for civil disobedience after Cory Aquino lost the snap election to Marcos. Without the coup attempt, it wasn’t likely that Marcos was going to be ousted but the continuing political instability would take its toll on the economy.
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Ironically, the same thing happened with Cory after her falling out with Enrile and the disgruntled Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers who balked at her release of the top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Without the support of Tabako and the Americans, Cory would’ve been deposed during the 1989 coup attempt. The opposition claims they fought hard for freedom and democracy but nothing much has changed during their time in power. The situation actually got worse.
After 36 years, we have another Marcos as President. Vindication and redemption for their family, true, but the prospects for the average Filipino still remain uncertain as President Bongbong Marcos is more focused on the validation of the geopolitical powers that be to the point that his independent foreign policy is nothing more than a pivot to the US again. The reform which was put in place by his father, by way of the constitutional convention and the adoption of a new constitution was shelved by EDSA but it doesn’t look like Marcos is keen on structural reforms. He won the election by a majority but doesn’t seem to have the sense of urgency to spend the political capital given him by the people to make drastic changes needed to make the country competitive and progressive.
It remains to be seen how China will react to Marcos’ pivot economically. But in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, the Chinese white ships are constantly present, increasing tensions as the gray ships of the US Navy conduct patrols and Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) in the areas claimed by China. It remains to be seen what kind of compensation will be given by the US for access to bases in the country and if their support can be counted on in the event China imposes indirect economic sanctions on the country as it did during the Aquino administration. Filipinos are left without an option in the event there is a change in opinion about Marcos’ foreign policy since the opposition is undoubtedly pro-US.
Filipinos still haven’t learned their lessons about how the Americans only exploit their supposed “allies” in the region. We lost Scarborough Shoal China because we relied on American “support” as they negotiated a deal with China. Marcos Sr. was brought down with US support. This, it appears that Marcos Jr. has taken out an insurance policy to ensure that his term will not be cut short by Uncle Sam. Hopefully, we don’t get caught in the middle of a shooting war between the US and China over Taiwan. We should’ve learned our lessons already from our elders who lived through the time when the Americans left the Philippines under Japanese rule. We can only hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.
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