By Rey Andres
The will of the people mattered and won in the Philippines and Egypt 25 years apart. The Philippines’ People Power Revolution also known as the EDSA Revolution in 1986 marked the restoration of a country beset by problems from years of neglect and apathy. The resiliency of the Filipinos gave in as they could no longer were able stomach the blatant injustices and corruption around them.
The limits were reached in February 1986 when the people said “enough is enough.”Â The 20-year dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos ended â€œpeacefullyâ€ with the suburbanite-led revolution that rallied Filipinos from all economic strata to stage a precedent-setting event which became an inspiration for Revolutions of 1989 that ended communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe.
The Philippine “uprising” that surprised the world was not a spur of the moment decision for the millions who participated in protest actions and prayerful street demonstrations that occurred February 22-25, 1986.Â These mass protest actions were the culmination of a long campaign of civil resistance of the people against Pres. Marcosâ€¨who after serving out his legal term limits had to resort to changing the Constitution to perpetuate himself in power.â€¨Most of the demonstrations, where the marginalized poor sectors of the rural areas where ubiquitously left out occurred along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, known more by its acronym EDSA, in Quezon City, Metropolitan Manila.Â Over 2,000,000 Filipino civilians, disgruntled politicians, military personnel and religious groups led by the late Cardinal Jaime sin joined the mass protests.
Pres.Marcos’ second presidential term was marred by allegations of widespread graft and corruption and left a chasm of disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor which make up the majority of the Philippine population.Â These factors led to a rise in criminality and civil unrest around the country.Â Other factors contributed to the rise of civil discontent which included the formation of the New People’s Army and a bloody Muslim separatist movement in the southern island of Mindanao led by the Moro National Liberation Front.â€¨Barred from running for a third term as president in 1973 Marcos declared Martial Law on September 23, 1972 through Presidential Decree 1081citing rising civil disobedience as justification. Through this decree, Marcos seized emergency powers and gave himself full control of the Philippine military and the authority to suppress the freedomâ€¨of speech, the freedom of the press, and many other civil liberties. He also dissolved the Philippine Congress, shut down media establishments critical of his regime and also ordered the immediate arrest of his political opponents and critics.â€¨Throughout his presidency, Marcos set up a regime in the Philippines that would give him ultimate power over the military and the national treasury and set up a personality cult. His regime was ended by a popular uprising and extremely popular president, the late Pres. Corazon Aquino, took overÂ the realm of leadership.
For a while, the Philippines was at the center of attention in the global political arena becauseÂ ofÂ how freedom was without a drop of blood and democracy restored.â€¨Egypt now occupies the political limelight. â€¨Egypt now basks in the glory of its people’s accomplishment because its people was able to topple down a regime who ruled for their lives for the last 30 years.Â The most populous country in the Arab world erupted in mass protests in January 2011 and after 18 days of angry protests had forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign and turn overâ€¨all power to the military and end his decades of autocratic rule. These developments are viewed to have profound effects in transforming Egyptâ€™s politics and that of the Arab world.
The victory of the Egyptians won in part by reliance on the moder technology as the regime worked frantically to cut off communications among protesters came at a price in human blood with the human rights group estimating 300 people to have died since the protests began.â€¨It took almost a week in February for the Philippine Revolution experience to drive out Marcos and for him to relinquish powers to the people where they rightfully belong.
Egypt took 18 days to accomplish a lifelong desire to enjoy freedom. One protester shouted after the proclamation that Mubarak has resigned shouted: “Egypt is free!”
For both countries, the road ahead represents a challenge to rewrite history having been given a fresh start.Â History will tell years from now whether both countries are up to the challenge with the balls in the hands already in the hands of their people.Â Will they measure up? The journey has only begun.