Commemorating the triumph of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution

By Atty. Anfred P. Panes

From a macro-perspective, the EDSA People Power was a confluence of the sovereign’s political and economic crisis prevailing at the time.

History saw the assassination of Ninoy Aquino as the commencement of the political crisis which, in reality, was preceded by an economic crisis. During the 1970s, the World Bank had more than enough funding to loan to third- world countries; however, interest rates in the United States reached an all-time high due to inflation. As a result, the interest on all dollar-denominated loans to third world countries also skyrocketed, which ultimately led to debt crisis experienced by most third-world countries – the Philippines included.

While we may not be omniscient people who witnessed history, we have to call a spade, a spade.  History is replete with evidence to prove the undeniable facts and pivotal moments that triggered the events leading up to the 1986 EDSA Revolution. February 25 – this is not just an ordinary holiday. It commemorates one of the most significant power struggles of our country. The February EDSA People Power propelled the institutionalization of a provisional government which was proclaimed in March of the same year.

The existence of the Freedom Constitution in 1986 may not be common knowledge as it only served as an interim Constitution before the deliberation and the eventual drafting of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which is still in force and effect in the present. The Preamble of the Constitution enshrines the people’s plea to build a just and humane society. It is not an apolitical statement because it makes reference to the demise of a crisis-laden, socio-political order which shook the very core of human life and freedom of the Filipino people.

Power, in itself, is conflict. Millions of souls have witnessed and thousands of protesters staged the historical account which brewed the 1986 EDSA People Power. Its relevance was taught in academic institutions, but the challenge of appreciation to the extent of molding one’s consciousness is evidently progressive, especially with the advent of historical white-washers and revisionists. The 1986 EDSA People Power is not only a ceremonial event of our country’s political transition, but it is symbolic of the renaissance of the democratic system of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is an active ascension of a new order in the glory of democracy which we have long fought for. It is a commemoration of our nation’s democratic triumph, won at the expense of our fallen heroes, and the people who suffered under a dictatorship, which gave birth to our new Constitution.

It is a rather drastic transformation in the political system for the years of dictatorship at the expense of human rights and freedom. No less than the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the highest Court of the land, pronounced the veritable, undisputed, and evidence-based atrocities that took place during the Marcos dictatorship. Such objective facts remain, but the acknowledgement of these facts is still inevitably elusive to others who would rather conveniently dismiss the same. Whether this is borne out of ignorance or arrogance I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide.

When intellectual discourse anchored on facts have become a subject of mockery to those who believe in the theories propagated on media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and spliced videos, then we are at the verge of moral and intellectual decay as a nation. When hard facts can be easily laughed at or dismissed by disavowal of knowledge or by ignorance, then we have to strengthen and deepen our national consciousness to remain cognizant of the past.

The prevalence of social mobilization in the context of the elections is yet again a cyclical social phenomenon which harbors underlying hindsight so we can curtail, once and for all, the imminence of crisis of sovereignty and political turmoil which bludgeoned the dignity of our country in the past.

The EDSA legacy stopped the bleeding and death of the fundamental rights of the people.  We have to at least protect the baselines of liberalism in the context of democracy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, among others.

We never failed to inform. We never failed to remember. We never failed to continue the fight. We acknowledge the primacy of human life and freedom. I hope we never get tired of narrating the truth to people of the future generation. Hate does not undertone this composition. The EDSA narrative and its legacies are not made-up stories, it will forever be embedded in our culture and in our history books. Its realities, as well as its atrocities, cannot be denied. We should not feel vexed of the same because we are expected to weave stories based on facts, and not on emotions.

Blind loyalty is a dangerous thing. Never be so loyal to one person, or one family, that you betray your own country.

The author is the Founding Partner of A. Panes Law and a Professorial Lecturer of the University of San Agustin College of Law