TWENTY-ONE years after Edsa, the country is still mired in poverty and the rule of law, public accountability, and the basic rules of governance continue to be set aside, a group of political analysts and human rights lawyers said.

Talking at a forum organized by the Transparency and Accountability Network, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and the British Council last Wednesday, University of the Philippines professor Randy David said “the ghosts of Edsa 1 and 2 haunt us” to this day mainly because of unsettled issues on Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s mandate and the legitimacy of her presidency.

David raised the following:

  • If it was right to force (Joseph) Estrada out of Malacañang in 2001 for plundering the public coffers, why is it wrong to oust GMA today extraconstitutionally for an even more grievous offense of stealing the presidential elections?
  • If it was right for the Catholic bishops to demand the resignation of an incompetent and immoral president and mobilize people to flock to the streets in 1986 and in 2001, why aren’t they demanding today the resignation of a president who has made a mockery of the democratic process?
  • If it was right for the Armed Forces in 1986 and in 2001 to intervene in the political sphere, why was it wrong in February 2006?
  • If it was right in 1986 to set aside the Constitution in order to give way to a revolutionary government when such powers are needed to dismantle the structures of authoritarianism, why would it be wrong today to seize the government and set aside its Constitution in order to pave the way for a formation of a truly just and free society?

“No matter how the Supreme Court tried to dress up this ouster as constructive resignation, the public knew that he was forced out of office with the help of the military,” said David, adding that he regrets being “one of those stupid millions who flocked to EDSA in 2001,” even bringing thousands of UP students with him.

Former Commission on Elections chair Christian Monsod agreed that this period in Philippine history — Arroyo being sworn in as the 14th President of the Republic — is “problematic,” as there will always be questions about its legitimacy.

Rene Saguisag, a human rights lawyer who fought against the Marcos dictatorship, also called it a “cheap thrill constitutional adventurism” without legal basis.

David further shared a “very disturbing” recollection of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo of how President Arroyo came into power.

He quoted Mike Arroyo’s March 5, 2001 interview with Graphic Magazine in full:

“She (Gloria) had really left the Cabinet at the right moment. The timing was perfect. If she had tarried a moment longer she would have been too late for Edsa. But I told myself, it’s now or never. If we lose here we’re totally destroyed and it’s goodbye to her political career. But if we win here she becomes president.

So we raised hopes. We got all those tapes from Ramon Jacinto and distributed them all over. We bought one million and a half copies of Pinoy Times to give away so the public could dream of the Erap mansion and bank accounts.

And when Edsa happened we texted everybody to go running there. Edsa!!! Edsa!!! Everybody converged on Edsa. Panalo kung panalo, patay kung patay. At past 1 p.m., January 20, (2001) Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes defected. But we knew that already the night before, when negotiations have lasted until the small hours.

At past 2 a.m., we knew Reyes had been convinced to join. His only condition was: “Show us a million people in Edsa so it will be easier to bring in the service commanders.”

And they asked when the crowd was thickest. We told them from 3 to 5 in the afternoon. So they agreed to come to Edsa at around that time.”

David said that Arroyo could have brought the current political situation to normalcy had she been content to only serve the remaining term of Estrada.

But because she wanted her own six-year term, David said the 2004 elections became the “dirtiest electoral exercise in Philippine history.”

In that presidential elections, public funds previously earmarked for agrarian reform, agriculture, road repair and construction, and overseas workers were allegedly channeled to finance Arroyo’s presidential campaign.

But Monsod said that while the 2004 elections was mired in controversy, the electoral process had at least advanced since Edsa 1. Though, for him, the choices in this year’s senatorial elections leave much to be desired.

“Philippine democracy is not in its best behavior, (but) it still works,” Monsod asserted.

He also remains optimistic that the recently appointed Comelec commissioners — “people of integrity and competence” who are aware of the need to restore the credibility of Comelec — will not likely allow themselves to be part of a “centralized cheating.”

“The good news is Chairman Benjamin Abalos is leaving by February 2008 and a totally new Commission will be in place,” he added.

The results of the local electoral race this May will also be very crucial, as Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad said Congress has now become “a virtual market place where representatives haggle for their share in the budget.”

“My colleagues in Congress are willing to forgo the functions of Congress as being a deliberative and policy-making body in exchange for ability to bring home the bacon to their constituency,” she said, adding that this is a manifestation of the abject poverty in the country today.

“Governance calls for public accountability. Poverty disempowers people from calling their leaders to account for their actions and decisions,” Randy said. “When the public is better informed, masses better organized, and the poor is less dependent on patronage politics, only then can we talk meaningfully about the future of democracy in our country.”

3 Responses to 21 years after ‘People Power,’ have we moved forward?



April 1st, 2007 at 12:23 am

Randy David Questions of the Right Things done in the past and asking why it is not right to do the same at present can be answered in only one short, simplistic answer but could have the ring of truth to it and in the form of more questions.

Yes, those were the right deeds, but what had happened after? Had they resulted in anything worth the efforts? Or they just changed the personalities and made things even worse? The masses now resigned to the fact that things will just evolve naturally, no more effort, just leave it to nature and maybe the Natural Force of Being…



April 8th, 2007 at 11:45 pm

tama ba ang pag-intindi ko?

Sabi ni Randy D. “…bago natin ganap o may saysay na mapag-usapan ang kinabukasan ng demokrasya ng bansa, kelangan ang mga sumusunod: ang publiko ay mas mataas na kaalaman, ang masa dapat mas organisado, at ang mahihirap ay di na masyadong umaasa pa sa patronage politics…”?

merong pundamental na kahinaan ang ganitong argumento: una, tinuturing nito na ang publiko bilang isang kumpol ng mga ignorante (vastly ignorant lot).

pangalawa, kung ang mga rekisitos na ayon kay G. David ay hindi pa matatagpuan; kahulugan ba nito ang KAWALAN ng saysay ng pagmuni-muni para sa kinabukasan ng demokrasya sa bansa?

pangatlo, binibigyan ng mas mabigat na responsibilidad at sisi ang mga mahihirap at ang masa kaysa sa mga lideratos ng bansa.

ano pa ba ang patutunayan ng publiko na hindi sila tanga? alam nila ang Hello Garci, ang Jocjoc Bolate Fertilizer Scam, ang 1 Bilyong Piso Diosdado Macapagal Hiway, ang maniobrahan sa IMPSA project, ang 1 Bilyong Computerization Project ng Comelec;

ang basbas ng National Government Leaders sa pa-Jueteng sa mga probinsya, ang planong pagbebenta ng national patrimonies na nasa Japan (mga danyos na natanggap ng bansa matapos ang WWII);

ang panlulustay sa mga pondo ng PAGCOR, OWWA, para sa personal na kapakanan ng Pangulo;

ang pagmaniobra sa mga pondo ng SSS at GSIS para ito ay itaya sa mga dayuhang stock market para kumita ng kumisyon ang iilan, at ang kwestiyonableng pagkalugi ng mga ito;

sa lokal na lebel naman, alam din ng publiko kung sino-sino ang kumikita tuwing may gagawing proyekto at kung iilang porsyento ang napupunta sa kapitan, sa mayor, at sa mga kongresman;

nakawan sa kaban ng AFP, ng RSBS, at kung bakit merong mga katulad nina Gens. Ligot at Garcia;

ang mga ito ay PAHAPYAW pa lamang na kaalaman bilang bahagi ng publiko…

ang masa dapat mas organisado? tama ito. pero ang mahigit na 700 kataong biktima ng pamamaslang ng mga ahente ng estado ay patunay na nababahala ang ilang baluktok na lider ng bayan sa isang nagkakaisa at organisadong masa.

sa mga nananawagan sa masa sa isang pang mas mahigit na mahusay na pagkakaisa at pagiging oorganisado, kayo ba ay kabilang sa pagkondena sa pamamaslang ng mga aktibista at mga civil rights workers? pabulong ba ang anyo o organisado?

ang mahihirap ay dapat hindi umasa sa patronage politics,—sino ba ang nag-imbento ng patronage politics na ito, ang mahihirap?

hindi ko itinatanggi na may pagkukulang din ang mga mahihirap, lalo na ang mga edukadong middle-class na patuloy ang pagnipis ng mga bilang at napapasama na sa mga mahihirap. PERO, ito ay limitado sa pagtingin na dapat, they should have mustered enough courage to take up arms and revolt against a corrupt and ineffective government !


tongue in, anew

April 9th, 2007 at 12:51 am

Ito ang basa ko sa pangyayari. Nung EDSA1, laban ng mga sundalo sa kapwa sundalo. Nanawagan ang simbahan. Nung pumagitna ang mga tao, walang nagpaputok. Nagtagumpay ang rebolusyon.

Nung EDSA2, Nanawagan muli ang simbahan, dumagsa ang mga taong namanipula ng mga nagplano, pero wala ring pumutok dahil sumama ang militar. Nagtagumpay muli ang rebolusyon.

Nung EDSA3, Iglesia ni Kristo ang nanguna, pero ng sumama na ang masa, pinutukan ng sundalo, hinuli at ikinulong ang mga tao. Talo ang rebolusyon.

Nung Feb. 2006, naghintay ang mga tao, kanino ba talaga panig ang simbahan, ang mga kawal? Dahil sa walang malinaw na sagot, wala nang sumama para muling mag-EDSA. Talo muli ang rebolusyon.

Kung pagbabasehan ang mga karakter sa likod ng bawat pagtatangkang ayusin ang liderato ng bansa sa labas ng eleksiyon, kailangan ang 3 sangkap: tao, simbahan, sundalo.

Sa dalawang nagtagumpay na EDSA, kumpleto ang sangkap, sa dalawang sumablay, may kulang.

Comment Form