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

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

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

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

." or at least to remain in the Philippines as a private citizen. former Time Woman of the Year. attended by family members and a few paid guests. In a country peppered by souls still heady and giddy about Fiesta Revolutions of past. 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. Air Force plane headed for Guam. He must be astonished to see his power. 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. After violent revolutions there are always scores to settle.As the soldiers prepare to depart. who ruled for twenty years as one of the world's most powerful dictators. and Ms 1986 “Revolution” herself — Ms Corazon Aquino. "There. Marcos. It is the only violent death on February 24. the next to last day of the revolution. The Marcos inauguration is a pathetic affair." she tells him. Another soldier is hit in the face and killed. national reconciliation was that much easier. placing phone calls to influential Filipinos and begging to be allowed to stay on as an "Honorary President. it accidentally discharges. revenge to extract. as the case may be). is now just a sick old man fleeing his country like a frightened dog. what may now be billed Edsa IV (or Commonwealth Avenue I. But as the soldier bends down to pick up his gun. There is some fighting and retribution against citizens and troops who had been loyal to Marcos. which seemed so absolute only a few weeks ago.S. But because the Filipino people created major political change largely without violence. but it is minimal. Behind the scenes Marcos is maneuvering to save face. now you look like Rambo. and the cycle of violence continues. evaporate so quickly and completely. grudges to satisfy. At Clark Air base they board a U. When Marcos' departure is announced jubilant Filipinos celebrate in the streets and flood into Malacañang Palace. 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. At about nine o'clock that night.

fish balls. Sunstar. And failed miserably it did. it will have further served to highlight the utter ridiculousness of how Filipinos conduct their affairs. Music and entertainment were another crucial component. boiled bananas.promised to be another spectacle of sorts. deepfried chicken gizzards on a stick and scoops of ice cream on hamburger buns…. . This time there was no particular heir-to-thethrone around which the fete was organised. If it had failed. at some point reflected and regarded the Truth that said “Leap” never happened in their own recent history. Each were in fact smaller in number than the equally ridiculous street gathering in Makati on 25 July. If it succeeded in its bid to amass enough warm bodies in the streets to make a statement. it would have marked a new low in the practice of a concept that Filipinos fancy themselves to have invented back in 1986. 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. peddling corn on the cob. But in the same way the Chinese people. 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. but none even remotely approached the kind of numbers these would-be anarchists crowed in the days leading to Tueday. Bursts of little street protests sporadically erupted in Manila’s streets in the days following the House dismisal of the impeachment bid.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. 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. keeping the crowds from drifting away. 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.

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