Tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of the so-called 1986 People Power Revolution, more commonly called EDSA 1986, after the metropolitan highway where the event took place.
The EDSA 1986 story varies, depending on who tells it.
To the family of Presidents Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and Benigno Aquino III, EDSA 1986 was the downfall of the authoritarian President Ferdinand Marcos and the assumption to office of the first of the two Aquinos.
For those who obtained juicy posts and powerful positions in the administrations of both mother and son, EDSA 1986 was the restoration of democracy in the Philippines, and a regime of “reconciliation with justice.”
From the perspective of the bigger lot of Filipinos, EDSA 1986 was a boulevard of broken dreams.
By the time EDSA 1986 took place, a constitutional government was in force, albeit under a strongman ruler in the person of Marcos.
That notwithstanding, about one-third of the existing legislature, the Batasang Pambansa, was from the political opposition party headed by Salvador “Doy” Laurel.
At least two justices of the Supreme Court were not supporters of the Marcos regime, and at least one member of the Commission on Elections was anointed by the political opposition.
Anti-administration periodicals like We Forum, Malaya, Mr & Ms Special Edition and the Philippine Inquirer were freely circulating.
Also in circulation was the rabid anti-Marcos Philippines Free Press weekly news magazine shuttered since the proclamation of martial law in 1972 but revived in late 1985.
Instead of continuing government operations under the existing constitutional order, Corazon Aquino abolished the Charter and for a whole year exercised both Executive and Legislative powers under her so-called “freedom constitution,” which is the same Charter she abolished, minus its provisions on the legislature.
Aquino also reorganized the entire judiciary and replaced every justice and judge with political allies and supporters.
With the legislature abolished and with the judiciary under her complete control, Aquino became a one-woman government, no different from Marcos during his authoritarian regime (1972-1986).
In less than a year in office, people were already complaining about Kamag-anak, Inc., the derogatory term given by the late newsman Louie Beltran to several of Aquino’s relatives who profited from lucrative government contracts and who abused their connections to Malacañang.
Instead of calling for a constitutional convention, Aquino created an unelected constitutional commission to draft a new charter.
That commission, composed of handpicked Aquino lackeys, clumsily drafted the current error-filled 1987 Constitution.
Aquino had an agrarian reform program, but Hacienda Luisita, her family’s crown jewel in Tarlac, was exempted.
Farmers who staged a rally near Malacañang were violently dispersed.
Several farmers were killed in that “Mendiola Massacre.”
In a display of misplaced nationalism, the Aquino-controlled Senate kicked out the American military bases in the Philippines, but did not bother to strengthen the defense arsenal of the country.
As a result, the nation today is hardly unable to contain foreign expansionism in Philippine maritime territory.
Aquino released detained communist leaders, who eventually fled to Holland to continue undermining Philippine democracy.
This so-called “icon of democracy” is the only incumbent Philippine president to steadfastly sue and obtain the conviction of two respected journalists, Beltran and Maximo Soliven, for libel.
These past several years, EDSA 1986 has been largely insignificant because its real story is now public knowledge.
It has been reduced to an annual holiday, and nothing else.
EDSA 1986 produced an incompetent administration under Corazon Aquino.
What was left of its “spirit” in 2000 produced an equally incompetent regime, and one identified with massive corruption, under her son Benigno III.
Today, the only remnants left of the Aquino III regime are the Liberal Party’s Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima, and the hopelessly misinformed Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.
Hopefully, these LP stragglers will be out of office by May 2022, so that their political departure will, once and for all, put an end to the story of that national historical nightmare called EDSA 1986.