EDSA Revolution of 1986

In the mid-1980's a popular movement sprang up to oust the corrupt Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. As the resistance gained momentum, two key military officers defected from the government and sequestered themselves inside a Manila military base. What followed was an amazing example of nonviolent struggle as hundreds of thousands of ordinary Filipinos took to the streets to protect the rebel officers from troops still loyal to Marcos. "What the story of the Philippine revolution demonstrates is the power people can have when they withdraw consent."

When Ferdinand Marcos was twenty years old he was arrested for conspiracy in the murder of one of his father's political rivals. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to prison. The case was appealed before the Philippine Supreme Court. Marcos, a young lawyer with no trial experience, represented himself and won the appeal. He was set free. At one time Marcos was one of the world's most powerful dictators. First elected president of the Philippines in 1965, he pulled the strings of power like a master puppeteer. He consolidated power by manipulating public opinion, stealing elections, perfecting the arts of political patronage and bribery. Arrests and assassinations kept the public living in fear. Although the Philippine constitution limited the presidency to two four-year terms, Marcos ruled for twenty years. He achieved this by suspending the constitution (after declaring martial law), and then writing another constitution more conducive to his ambitions. He ran the Philippines like it was his private country club, controlling the military, the parliament, the courts, the bureaucracy, the press and several business monopolies. He and his "cronies" got richer while the country got poorer.

Then in 1983 Benigno Aquino decided to return to the Philippines after three years of self-imposed exile. As a popular politician, Aquino represented the primary threat to the Marcos presidenc y. For his "protection," a military escort greeted Aquino when he arrived at Manila International Airport. As he exited the plane, there were shots. When it was over Aquino's body lay

Rallies and other forms of resistance sprang up in cities and towns all over the Philippines. yielding to pressure from his people (and the U. including the upper and middle classes. As a result. Marcos called for presidential elections to prove he still had widespread support. joined the struggle to get rid of Marcos. people may have stayed home and watched the tube instead of going out and getting involved.sprawled on the tarmac. Benigno Aquino's widow Cory.S. wanting to see for themselves what was going on. with Marcos' thugs beating up election workers and scrambling voter roles. REACTION The public reacted angrily to the Aquino murder. Marcos was using the old-fashioned tactics of heavy-handed repression.). During the next two and a half years all segments of the population. The assassination of Benigno Aquino was the match that lit the fire that would eventually consume the Marcos regime. Finally. The government declared Marcos the winner. He didn't understand what the elites of most modern industrial nations have learned—that there are much more subtle (and efficient) means of controlling a population. The funeral march turned into an eleven-hour impromptu demonstration against Marcos. Had he allowed. ran against Marcos. a self-described housewife. She proposed a seven- . The election was marked by widespread fraud. thousands of people showed up. even encouraged. extensive TV coverage and turned the whole affair into a spectacle. THE FUNERAL The Marcos government banned TV coverage of the Aquino funeral. By not allowing TV coverage. After the election Cory Aquino spoke to a crowd of one million people at a rally in Manila.

part program of nonviolent resistance. stores and newspapers. and then we'll hit Enrile and Ramos." he says. Hundreds of thousands of people respond. protects them. People sing and dance and cheer. the sources of his power are drying up." Unfortunately for Marcos. Hawkers sell peanuts and souvenirs. take care of them. They chop down trees and park buses in intersections to blockade streets leading to Camp Crame where the small contingent of rebels has consolidated their forces. Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Deputy Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos defect from the Marcos government. DEFECTION On February 22. Marcos has a plan: "We'll bide our time. She urged people to "experiment with nonviolent forms of protest" and declared: ". tanks and armored personnel carriers to attack Camp Crame. There are spontaneous rallies and processions. For the next four days. and although he still has plenty of force at his disposal. force is not the same as power. an independent radio station run by the Catholic Church.controlled banks. Marcos is not worried about the rebel officers." He sends Marines. A carnival-like atmosphere prevails. entire families camp out on the streets of Manila.if Goliath refuses to yield. but we'll disperse the civilians. They say they are prepared to die rather than continue supporting the corrupt Marcos regime." The revolution had begun. Priests hold street masses and prayer vigils.. "They are cornered. Enrile and Ramos barricade themselves in the Defense Ministry headquarters in Manila. They "can be easily wiped out with simple artillery and tank fire.. including a one-day work stoppage and a boycott of Marcos. They talk and sleep and listen to Radio Veritas. . RESISTANCE Radio Veritas. 1986. calls for people to surround the Defense Ministry and block the movement of any troops that Marcos might send. using their bodies to protect the rebel troops from attack." He declares: "I intend to stay as President and if necessary I will defend this position with all the force at my disposal. we shall keep dipping into our arsenal of nonviolence and escalate our nonviolent struggle. along with a small group of sympathetic troops.

. Marcos. Seven helicopter gunships land at Camp Crame to join the rebels. cutting off a Marcos speech in mid-sentence. After a while the commander agrees to withdraw his troops. passing out flowers. The tension eases." On February 24 Marcos imposes a dusk to dawn curfew. praying the Rosary. Ramos and Aquino. people sit down in front of them. is openly calling for him to resign. he lashes out against the rebels with macho bluster: "If they think I am sick. Tens of thousands gather outside to defend the station while the opposition begins broadcasting news updates and appeals for assistance from Enrile. The tanks stop. they are surrounded by civilians. People begin shaking the soldiers' hands and giving them McDonalds hamburgers. The blocked tanks start forward again. a government-run TV station. Priests and nuns kneel before the tanks. Troops begin to defect in increasing numbers. A Marine commander threatens to start shooting. As the tanks start forward into the crowd. The people sit tight. I may even want to lead the troops to wipe out this Enrile and Ramos. the power professional. asking them to defect and join the rebellion. No shots are fired. A priest walks up and leads the crowd in the Lord's Prayer. Despite his frail health. smelling powder and getting stronger. DEFENDING CHANNEL FOUR When several platoons of loyalist soldiers try to take back channel four. I am just like an old war horse. By now the Reagan White House. No one pays any attention. whose support is one of the keys to Marcos' power.Marcos' soldiers and weapons are met in the streets by tens of thousands of ordinary Filipinos who are surrounding Camp Crame to protect the rebel officers. A small group of rebel soldiers in Manila take over channel four. Finally the tanks turn around and withdraw as the crowd cheers. The tanks stop again. holding their ground. doughnuts and orange soda. Young girls walk among the soldiers." Enrile responds: "He can't even lead himself to the bathroom. knows the foundation of his authority is perception. People offer the soldiers candy and cigarettes.

grudges to satisfy. . revenge to extract. but it is minimal. He must be astonished to see his power. The Marcos inauguration is a pathetic affair. the next to last day of the revolution. now you look like Rambo. At about nine o'clock that night. But because the Filipino people created major political change largely without violence. Another soldier is hit in the face and killed. Marcos. national reconciliation was that much easier. placing phone calls to influential Filipinos and begging to be allowed to stay on as an "Honorary President. a middle-aged woman in an Aquino T-shirt helps a machine gunner wind belts of ammunition around his chest. VICTORY On the 25th both Aquino and Marcos hold separate inaugurations. But as the soldier bends down to pick up his gun. and Ms 1986 “Revolution” herself — Ms Corazon Aquino. as the case may be). Marcos and his family sneak out the back door of Malacañang Palace and take a boat across t he Pasig River where helicopters are waiting. who ruled for twenty years as one of the world's most powerful dictators. There is some fighting and retribution against citizens and troops who had been loyal to Marcos. "There. former Time Woman of the Year. evaporate so quickly and completely. what may now be billed Edsa IV (or Commonwealth Avenue I." she tells him. and the cycle of violence continues. It is the only violent death on February 24. Behind the scenes Marcos is maneuvering to save face. attended by family members and a few paid guests.S. At Clark Air base they board a U." or at least to remain in the Philippines as a private citizen. Air Force plane headed for Guam. which seemed so absolute only a few weeks ago. After violent revolutions there are always scores to settle. In a country peppered by souls still heady and giddy about Fiesta Revolutions of past. the rallying cry in response to an impeachment bid against President Gloria Arroyo that catastrophically failed to pass Congress on 06 Sep 2005 was once again — you guessed it — FIESTA REVOLUTION! Led by no less than Madame Ex-President. When Marcos' departure is announced jubilant Filipinos celebrate in the streets and flood into Malacañang Palace. is now just a sick old man fleeing his country like a frightened dog. it accidentally discharges.As the soldiers prepare to depart.

com had an interesting report on that Ayala Avenue street “rally”… It looked like a huge street party with an interesting mix of characters… Street vendors were out in full force. at some point reflected and regarded the Truth that said “Leap” never happened in their own recent history. The recently-published Schedule of Events that will make up the 25th Anniversary of the 1986 EDSA “People Power” “Revolution” promises a whole circus of activities and exhibits that will surely make it look like a kind of a Great Leap Forward. it will have further served to highlight the utter ridiculousness of how Filipinos conduct their affairs. Pop stars crooned on a huge stage and the “Sex Bomb” dancers–a group of young women in tight white tops and blue capri pants–did the classic bump and grind. keeping the crowds from drifting away. Music and entertainment were another crucial component. If it succeeded in its bid to amass enough warm bodies in the streets to make a statement. boiled bananas. But in the same way the Chinese people. That “ridiculous street gathering in Makati” on the 25th of July in 2005 should already have served as a warning to Cory of how big a joke Philippine street rallies had become. it would have marked a new low in the practice of a concept that Filipinos fancy themselves to have invented back in 1986. we will eventually have to face the Truth ourselves and take stock of options around how best to move forward once the same realisation sinks in. If it had failed. . And failed miserably it did.promised to be another spectacle of sorts. deepfried chicken gizzards on a stick and scoops of ice cream on hamburger buns…. Bursts of little street protests sporadically erupted in Manila’s streets in the days following the House dismisal of the impeachment bid. Sunstar. peddling corn on the cob. but none even remotely approached the kind of numbers these would-be anarchists crowed in the days leading to Tueday. This time there was no particular heir-to-thethrone around which the fete was organised. Each were in fact smaller in number than the equally ridiculous street gathering in Makati on 25 July. fish balls.

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