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After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?
« on: February 26, 2019, 07:27:32 PM »

After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?

BY FRANCISCO S. TATAD

FEBRUARY 25, 2019

ON Saturday morning last week, several hundred left-leaning demonstrators took over a religious group’s march to the Marian Shrine on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), and set the tone for this year’s celebration of the military revolt that ousted the strongman Ferdinand Marcos on Feb. 25, 1986.

However, instead of chanting slogans against Marcos, who had been the Left’s rabid enemy for 20 years, the marchers turned to the President Rodrigo Duterte, with their new mantra: “Tayo ang EDSA, tayo ang pagasa, labanan ang diktadura.” —“ We are EDSA, we are the hope, fight the dictatorship.”

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Re: After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2019, 07:32:07 PM »

A street no more

This gave a significant twist to the meaning of “EDSA.” From the street which in 1986 and 2001 saw a successful uprising against the government, EDSA, according to this new language, now means the people rising in protest against the government. Although their small number still obstructed the traffic, they were saying they did not have to physically occupy EDSA in great numbers anymore; all they had to do was simply march against the government. EDSA had become a noun, if not a verb, of resistance, if not revolt.

This indeed is a significant development in our language of politics. Before the 1986 EDSA revolt, the government was obliged to validate its claims before the fiercely adversarial press and the even more adversarial interaction with the masses. Plaza Miranda, the public square in front of the famous Quiapo Catholic Church in Manila, became the nation’s most popular testing ground for political ideas—it was there, even more than in the halls of Congress, where the most important national questions could be debated before the electorate. For Ramon Magsaysay, the popular seventh president of the Philippines (Dec 30, 1953 to March 17, 1957), the litmus test of any government idea was whether “one could defend it in Plaza Miranda.”

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Re: After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2019, 07:37:29 PM »

Plaza Miranda

It was in Plaza Miranda where national candidates spoke to the nation to sell themselves and their programs of government. And it was here where the most brutal attack on free speech and the democratic electoral process was inflicted on Aug. 21, 1971, when communist agents bombed a senatorial campaign rally of the opposition Liberal Party, killing nine and wounding 95 others, including the party’s most prominent LP personalities like Gerry Roxas, Sergio Osmeña Jr., Jovito Salonga, and Ramon Bagatsing, who was running for mayor of Manila. Then-Sen. Benigno S. Aquino, the most important party official who was absent during the explosions, automatically accused Marcos of having ordered the bombing.

But Marcos rejected the accusation and rapped the communists instead as the actual perpetrators. He suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus throughout the country to round up the suspects. One year later, he proclaimed martial law to turn back the rebellion, which had spilled out into the streets and threatened to overrun the government.

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Re: After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2019, 07:54:35 PM »
 
Some of the perpetrators ultimately confirmed Marcos’ claim; this was documented by Gregg Jones’ Red Revolution: Inside the Philippine Guerrilla Movement, among others. The late former Senate President Salonga, one of the most, if not the most, seriously wounded of the victims, said he had come to the conclusion that the real architect and author of the crime was not Marcos, but the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines Jose Maria Sison, with “the possible knowledge of ‘Ninoy’ Aquino.”

Mutating to EDSA

This was the last time Plaza Miranda was described in political texts as the place where political ideas were validated by the Filipino people. On Feb. 25, 1986, a military mutiny, supported by the civilian population that poured out on EDSA, and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, which issued a powerful pastoral statement that set the moral basis for the move against Marcos, forced the strongman out of Malacañang after 20 years in power. It was a bloodless uprising that ended with the strongman and his family being flown by the US Air Force to Hawaii.

Instantly, EDSA became a household word for changing an unwanted government.

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Re: After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2019, 07:56:50 PM »

The military installed Mrs. Corazon Aquino as revolutionary president, even though she had failed to overcome Marcos in the snap presidential election of Feb. 7, 1986 and had gone into hiding with the Pink Sisters in Cebu as the EDSA revolt broke out in Manila. Despite the props provided by external actors, Cory’s government could hardly mute nor mask its inherent dysfunctions. Lacking an authentic constitutional mandate, Cory had to face an EDSA-type revolt from the same forces that had installed her in power, for at least seven times during her six-and-a-half years. The deadliest of these nearly toppled her, were it not for the timely flyover of US jet fighters at the height of the coup attempt.

Ousting Estrada

Fifteen years later, under then-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, EDSA made a dramatic reappearance. Led by then-Speaker Manuel Villar, the rich property developer from Las Piñas, the House of Representatives impeached Estrada for bribery and corruption without much of a fight, and the Articles of Impeachment promptly went up to the Senate for trial. Estrada was represented by some of the best lawyers in the profession—Andres Narvasa, former chief justice of the Supreme Court, Estelito Mendoza, former solicitor-general and secretary of justice, Raul Daza, former deputy speaker of the House where he had served three consecutive terms as congressman for the first district of Northern Samar. Then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. presided over the trial. But the case was to be decided not on legal merits alone.

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Re: After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2019, 07:58:31 PM »

In the course of the trial, the prosecution threatened to walk out every time it moved for anything and feared its motion would not be granted. The walkout finally came after the court refused to admit and open an envelope which had been volunteered by a bank, without the need of a subpoena, and whose contents were totally unknown to the court. Not getting what they wanted, the prosecution walked out, and instead of recalling them back to court, the presiding Chief Justice joined them at EDSA, together with the other Supreme Court justices, the members of the Cabinet and the commanding generals of the Armed Forces, and swore in Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as “president” of the Philippines.
 
This was the second time EDSA became the venue of regime change after 15 years.

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Re: After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2019, 08:00:17 PM »

Delayed countermoves

Estrada tried to reclaim the presidency by pointing out he never resigned and that Arroyo was merely sworn in as “Acting President.” But the Supreme Court, through the former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, ruled that Estrada resigned “constructively” when he vacated Malacañang. Normally, a President loses the presidency when he dies, is permanently incapacitated, is removed upon conviction in an impeachment trial, or resigns. In each of these instances, a formal document attests to what happened. Estrada’s resignation was the only such resignation, from the presidency at that, without the necessary supporting document.

EDSA under GMA

There were several moves to mount a counter-coup to recover Malacañang for Estrada, all without avail. The Oakwood mutiny was the biggest such project, but it proved to be an utter failure. Some people may still be hoping that one big EDSA push could remove DU30 from power, even without a suitable successor. But with the military and the police eating out of his hands, DU30 may be the only one who could remove himself from his constitutional office, through a military junta or a revolutionary government.

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Re: After 33 years, is EDSA no longer just a place?
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2019, 08:01:50 PM »

In the absence of a committed constitutional and ideological opposition, the idea of great numbers massing on EDSA to oust the dictator may now be a pipe dream. For the same reason that no serious senatorial candidate would dare to debate any of DU30’s minions on any national or international important issue during this campaign, no one would dare entertain the idea of challenging DU30’s right to continue in office, even in poor imitation of the Venezuelan Juan Guiado who declared himself interim president without any constitutional process, even while President Nicolas Maduro reigns.

Today’s street marchers probably know this only too well. That’s why the best they can do is to proclaim “Tayo ang EDSA, tayo ang pagasa, laban ang diktadura.” They have to assert that the actors, no matter how few, have now become the first and ultimate venue of the “revolution.”

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