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EDSA 1986 in proper perspective

Aquino was endearing to America, but she did not bother using that endearment to improve the military arsenal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.




The 34th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolt last week was hardly noticed. Policemen at the commemorative site at EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue said only 400 individuals went there to attend a very brief ceremony.

EDSA 1986 was a peaceful end to the administration of then President Ferdinand Marcos, but it allowed President Corazon Aquino to exercise absolute power with unprecedented vindictiveness and incompetence. Under Aquino, the Philippines became the power outage capital of the world.

Since the bulk of the literature about this occasion is written by pro-Aquino elements, it is imperative to put on record some facts ignored or withheld by pro-Aquino publicists.

Corazon Aquino officially lost the February 1986 presidential election to Marcos because the Batasang Pambansa proclaimed Marcos the winner. Her assumption to power was, therefore, in violation of the process mandated by the 1973 Constitution. Aquino ran for president under the 1973 Constitution and disregarded that charter when she lost the election.

EDSA 1986 was peaceful and bloodless because Marcos refused to allow his loyal Gen. Fabian Ver to bomb the civilians gathered outside Camps Aguinaldo and Crame at EDSA.

Clearly, Marcos chose to step down from power instead of allowing a carnage at EDSA. This is duly recorded on television footage which pro-Aquino documentaries conveniently ignore.

Prior to EDSA 1986, Aquino called Marcos a dictator because Marcos exercised executive and legislative powers under the 1973 Constitution,
and because 13 of the 15 justices of the Supreme Court were  sympathetic to the Marcos administration.

Upon seizing power, however, Aquino simply repeated what Marcos did.

Aquino abolished the 1973 Constitution and anointed herself president under a “Freedom Constitution,” which is the 1973 Constitution minus the duly-elected Batasang Pambansa (one-third of the members of which were with the political opposition to Marcos) and vested in herself both executive and legislative powers, much like Marcos.

Outdoing Marcos, Aquino demanded the resignation of all 15 justices of the Supreme Court. After reappointing five of them, who were either anti-Marcos or endorsed by her allies, she filled up the rest of the vacancies with justices who were critical of the Marcos administration.

Aquino created the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to run after the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family. Many abusive officials of the PCGG ended up spending more government funds than what the commission recovered as “ill-gotten wealth.” Its ineptitude eventually led to the dismissal of the graft cases against Marcos and his family.

The media during Aquino’s time criticized what they saw as corrupt Aquino relatives in lucrative government posts. One noted journalist referred to them collectively as “Kamag-anak Inc.”

Aquino’s brother, Tarlac Rep. Jose “Peping” Cojuango, Jr., was a very powerful politician during the Aquino presidency.

Reputable anti-Marcos opposition leaders who campaigned for Aquino in 1986, like Vice President Salvador “Doy” Laurel and Batasan members Eva Estrada Kalaw and Homobono Adaza, were slowly but effectively eased out of any role in the Aquino regime.

Aquino restored press freedom, but she filed libel charges against journalists Maximo Soliven and Louie Beltran — the only Philippine president to do so.

Farmers demonstrating against Aquino’s regime at Mendiola ended up violently dispersed in what became known as the “Mendiola Massacre.”

Aquino instituted a compulsory land reform measure called the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, but she exempted her family’s sugar estate Hacienda Luisita from the program through a clever legal arrangement crafted by lawyers.

The military made several unsuccessful attempts to oust Aquino from power. She survived the last but most serious mutiny against her when intimidating United States Air Force jets forced the mutineers to retreat.

Aquino was endearing to America, but she did not bother using that endearment to improve the military arsenal of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). As a result, the AFP fighting capability was at its poorest during her presidency.

Towards the end of her term, Aquino made her close allies House Speaker Ramon Mitra Jr. and Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan mistakenly believe that one of them will be her anointed presidential candidate in May 1992. In the end, Aquino supported Fidel Ramos, the Marcos-era general and her husband’s jailer during martial law.

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