Monday, February 25, 2008

Remembering the 1986 People Power Revolution

Right at this very moment (in case my computer time is wrong, it is around 12:00 noon, February 25, 2008, Philippines) , people are gathering at various points in Metro Manila and the environs to march to Baclaran Church or at the People Power Monument in EDSA to commemorate the 1986 popular uprising that amazed that world. Similar actions are happening in the other major cities.

Forces affiliated with Laban ng Masa will rally at the People Power Monument at 1pm, and then proceed to the EDSA Shrine at Ortigas for a mass led by Bishop Bacani and Bishop Yniguez at 2pm. Part of this mobilization will march to Ateneo to hear a protest concert by various artists. Part will proceed to Baclaran for a mass at 3pm with the Black and White Movement, with Jun Lozada and Cory Aquino. Bayan and its affiliated organizations will march to Mendiola for a rally.

In all of these mobilizations, the objective is to press the government to resolve the NBN-ZTE scandal and to punish the guilty, and for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign as president. In the slogans and placards, the issues may appear off-topic, but really not so: JOBS, LAND, JUSTICE, SCHOOLS, HOUSING, HEALTH, SECURITY. These are the casualties of corruption and greed.

The organizations involved in these democratic, non-violent actions today are the coalitions Black and White Movement, Code NGO, Laban ng Masa, and Bayan, to name the major ones. The party list groups supportive of these actions and directly engage in the mobilizations are Akbayan! Citizens' Action Party, Partido ng Manggagawa, and Bayan Muna (you should remember these groups in the next party list elections). I hope more cooperative leaders will join these coalitions and organizations. Like Jun Lozada, none of these organizations is saint (and not even the Holy Roman Catholic Church is holy I can assure you that). Like GMA, they need redemption. Unlike GMA, they are working for their redemption instead of denying their need for it.

Pro-GMA forces might find the rallies being held today as nothing more than a ploy to destabilize the government and pave the way for an illegal power grab. The truth is that these same forces (the legal Left, the civil society groups, the church groups) have always mobilized the people on issues that matter to their lives, so that the people will have the means to fight back through direct public actions in the streets.

But even all these forces taken together are weak compared to the enormous clout of the elite. It is the politicians (and the military) at the very top of the power pyramid that are able to finally engineer a solution in times of political crises, and right now we do not yet know the emerging elite consensus on what to do with GMA. We can be sure that the elite factions are now trying to forge a solution that protects their interests, even at the expense of justice. And this is why resolving political crisis shouldn't be a matter just for the politicians to handle; the people's forces should be involved, as they are now.

Imagine a society in which there are no protest rallies to pressure government to be accountable for election scandals as large as Garci's, corruption in the scale of NBN's, extrajudicial killings to such a scale that alarmed the highest levels of the United Nations, looting of benefits intended for poor farmers in the scale as large as JocJoc Bolante's.

Imagine a society of sheeps and cowards and plainly of people who do not care. That's the kind society that should make us leave this country and adopt another. But for as long as there are people like those that are gathered at Baclaran and Mendiola and EDSA today, there's hope. Direct street actions, even in the face of repression, inspire our people that something is happening to change their lives. Where people march to make their government accountable, there is hope.

No comments: