A moribund dictatorship finally ended in Edsa in February 25, 1986. That action was called people power - one which was hailed around the world as a bloodless, peaceful revolution. That was thirty-five years ago today, but absent celebrations during the past four years under the Duterte regime, that Edsa spirit has long been lost within the officialdom.
As to the disillusioned public, finding a reason to celebrate Edsa is as hard as finding new, competent post-Edsa leaders as the present regime has also failed their expectations.
Furthermore, it is needless to say that the Duterte regime is anti-Edsa. In fact, it was the failed #30YearsOfEdsa narrative that was utilized by the Marcos-Duterte troll-farms to discredit the so-called ‘yellow candidates’ during the 2016 and 2019 elections. That yellow-tagging narrative was proven effective during the last two elections. And now the shift to red-tagging, with the anti-terrorism law as the administration’s primary instrument.
Under RA 11479 or the anti-terrorism act of 2020 (ATA), it is not just the Edsa spirit that this regime aims to kill but the process itself. The ATA’s overbroad definition of terrorism clearly designates Edsa-like actions as an act of terror.
Had Edsa 86 happened today, Cardinal Sin would likely be charged with terrorist act for calling the people to swarm Edsa to protect renegade leaders such as Enrile and Ramos, while Cory Aquino who claimed the throne as well as protest leaders would also be charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act. So as Gloria Arroyo during Edsa 2, and the Erap supporters in Edsa 3.
However, for this administration, that historic event that inspired similar political revolutions around the globe is now irrelevant and worse, illegal under the ATA. It is because under Duterte, public order is higher than social justice; punishment is better than freedom and due process.
Accordingly, in ecozones the ATA assumes the name of the Joint Industrial Peace Concerns Office (JIPCO), a detachment inside EPZAs that aims to insulate foreign investors from trade unions and other legitimate union activities. In schools it is open surveillance and red-tagging. In Cordillera there is now ‘tokhang’ which targets left-leaning activists. In Congress, it is the attempt to alter the 1987 Constitution.
Thirty-five years and counting and workers remain threatened with the same policies that sent throngs of people into Edsa to drive out a dictator. We are not seeing that kind of revolution happening today despite the severity of the current economic and leadership crises. But surely, people will get to recognize the fact that killing Edsa is not a mandate they have given to Duterte or to his heir apparent.
The Filipinos’ freedom and sovereignty shall never be surrendered.