History happened in 1986. It was a four-day revolution of people who hoped to be free; free to speak their mind, free to demand due process, and free to live without fears. All of these were denied to the Filipinos by the Marcos dictatorship. The EDSA People Power Revolution succeeded to topple down a strongman yet 34 years later, EDSA became a failure.
EDSA is a failure. People who rallied in the length of the then Highway 54 had envisioned that there would be no more deaths in the hands of their government. No more massacres. No more harassments. No more political detentions. No more human rights violations. Yet, injustice is much worse after five terms of presidency.
People may have enjoyed democracy right now yet the constitution is losing its grasp to this ideology because the president is acting like a dictator after declaring a war on drugs. There were killings, either in police operations or in vigilante-style. Just like the deaths during the Martial Law, it did not undergo due process. But unlike the deaths during the Martial Law where cries of pain were isolated in the dark corners of the jail, the cries of the victims and their families echoed in the dark streets of the country. Human rights, one of what EDSA fought for, is just a concept in our present democracy.
EDSA is a failure. When Martial Law was declared, news media agencies including ABS-CBN, The Manila Times, Philippine Free Press, Philippine Graphic, and Daily Mirror were closed, an indication that the administration abolished the idea of press freedom. Media killings and threats had been alarming for the past decades after EDSA when journalists criticized every administration’s mistakes. Year by year, tirades against media are overlapping. Before Duterte would mark his fourth year in his term, he attacked various media outlets that are critical to him such as Rappler and Philippine Daily Inquirer, and most recently, threatened ABS-CBN with another shutdown.
Media giants were not alone, campus publications also struggle for press freedom despite the existence of Campus Journalism Act of 1991. There are student publications that had experienced defunding when the budget is the fare of every campus paper. There were also meddling incidents from the administration when it comes to editorial content, thus, depriving the students their rights for free press and editorial independence. What campus journalists are experiencing today may be nothing compared to what the student writers had experienced during Martial Law who became political prisoners, and even died but the fact that the government does not value the meaning of freedom of the press is still the same old story of threat to the said freedom, a freedom that the EDSA celebration also upholds.
EDSA is a failure. The EDSA Revolution is an epitome of unity as a nation sharing one belief of democracy despite the differences in social status, language, and age for one goal of overthrowing an authoritarian rule and assure that it will no longer happen. However, there are people who never learn.
As democracy ages year by year, divisiveness in the country also grow, and grow more with the presence of social media where people are not Filipinos discussing politics constructively but are ‘dilawan’ and ‘DDS’ in exchanging arguments on things they do not agree on, a setting that weakens unity among Filipinos that the world last saw during the EDSA Revolution. Democracy, at its fragile state, exists like a mindset under an authoritative governance.
Perhaps, what this country tries to endure now is a result of tolerating the self-serving officials of different administrations to survive in a people-centered government. We let the greed for power thrive in our ancestors’ dreamed democracy.
EDSA People Power Revolution is not a failure at all though. It was a successful start for our 87-year-old nation to glorify the welfare of the people instead of who sits in the government. We Filipinos are the ones who failed because for three decades, we see EDSA as a political battle between the Aquinos and the Marcoses when in fact, it is a battle of every Filipino who died fighting for the rights we deserve, of Filipinos who dreamed a violentless country for their children, and of every Filipino who marched and cried in Epifanio delos Santos Avenue where they treated “non-violence as a weapon of the brave”.