The striking thing about last EDSA I celebrations was their inane and forgettable character. You have some who would shift the “celebration” to another date, avoiding the day of the people’s role in EDSA. Then, there was the assertion that the “world does not need another EDSA.” Another was the notable stage-acting of the military–past and present–that projects the military’s “decisive” role in EDSA.
The people? They just went on with their everyday lives. They know the essential meaning of EDSA I in their lives–the promise of democracy, freedom, and progress in their lives never came. The ones who benefited greatly from EDSA were the the elite, both pro-Marcos and anti-Marcos, and to some extent, the middle class. The lower classes never rose above their disempowered and marginalized situation before, during, and after the Marcos dictatorship.
The problem now of course is that the cronies of Mr. Marcos and their dynastic network, have come back and increasingly taken over the key positions in the economy, politics, and even the culture of the country. Once again, the people are confronted with the specter of the loss of whatever freedom the post-Marcos democracy granted them.
The key role of the GMA administration in this slide towards EDSA cannot be underestimated. Ironically, its EDSA II–however politically opportunistic it was from hindsight–was premised in reversing this slide and in strengthening post-EDSA democracy. However, the GMA administration went on to rule on the basis of political survival and economic aggrandizement. It never fully opened the political system to the people and instead cultivated the growth of the worst of patronage politics. In the process, it weakened all democratic institutions and dangerously unbalanced the entire system of democratic checks and balances.
The incoming president will be hard-pressed to correct all the ills that Marcos inflicted on the political body. He or she will be hard-pressed to reverse what GMA had wrought on the weakened institutions. At the end of the day, the people may need to go back to the essential lesson of EDSA–people power.
This was what was missing in the last celebrations of EDSA I.