The Failure of EDSA

A few days after the declaration of the state of national emergency. A number of commentators seemed to be lashing out at its readers and perhaps looking for an epiphany as to why the general populace seems to be dis-interested in the ironical declaration of 1017 on the twentieth anniversary of People Power I.

When over 16,000 people favour attending a World Wrestling Entertainment event than celebrating EDSA I at Ayala you know your cause is in big trouble. Some would claim that majority of the participants from the provinces were prevented from coming into Manila, hence the low turnout is not really an acceptable excuse for the not so big rally last Friday. Metro Manila is huge urban sprawl; surely there would have been enough warm bodies in Metro Manila to make up a contingent to attend the rally. If you can convince and mobilise the people. It did not happen that fateful Friday. And a few days after Sunday it was attempted again and it failed.

Today in a number columns you see attempts to question, justify and at a certain point blame the people for the lukewarm attention given by the populace to the protestations of the people who desire a swift overthrow of Arroyo and the condemnation of 1017.

Today in a number columns you see attempts to question, justify and at a certain point blame the people for the lukewarm attention given by the populace to the protestations of the people who desire a swift overthrow of Arroyo and the condemnation of 1017.

Manolo Quezon
Conrado de Quiros

Seem to be examples of these views. They seemed to be analysis bordering on melancholy and an attack on what seemed to be a betrayal of people. Yet articles that espouse a different view counter such protestations. Again there are a number, but Monsod’s article seemed to be the most complete in its answer.

Solita C Monsod

So why did the populace not lend its voice to those seeking Arroyo’s ouster?Two sets of answers come to mind:I. In terms of 1014 the following facts are quite clear:

  1. No TV and Newspaper station has been shut down. The Tribune, the first target of 1017, is still operating and enjoying a surge in circulation. TV stations are still reporting the news
  2. There have been arrests but most have been limited to those alleged to participate in the coup or withdrawal of support from the government. A few are in jail, some are hiding and some have sought the protection of Congress.
  3. Congress and the Senate are still open. The Lawmakers are free to investigate and issue statements.
  4. Rallies are still being held. The only time they were stopped was when they attempted to occupy EDSA Shrine.
  5. It is not surprising that the media’s reaction 1017 was feverish. However, as days pass it is apparent that Freedom of the Press is still intact in the Philippines. Due to the vigilance and protestations of media? Maybe. Or maybe it was also the intent of Malacanang not to use it in that way. Perhaps, and this only my view, it was used as red herring to confuse the Press and Politicians while Malacanang was achieving a few things - neutralizing elements in the Military that were under suspicion, charging its less pliable enemies with charges that are unbailable, creation of a new praetorian guards, coaxing its political nemesis to show its cards and weaken further the efficacy of People Power by exposing its leaders and handlers as willing to grasp at any issue to depose the present administration. It has been questioned before the Supreme Court and Malacanang will lift the declaration even before it is to be deliberated. So Malacanang achieves its goals while its critics and opponents have been busy fighting the shadows of Martial Law.

An Aside

There has also been an increase of name calling among writers and columnists because of this event. Several labels like pro, anti, and much worse have been bandied about. It must be an emotional issue for most writers and bloggers. Nothing wrong when writing with passion, but it would have been more convincing if the discussions were focused on the issues and arguments. Question, criticize and dissect the ideas of the other side. Name-calling indicates that you have run out arguments.

II. So why has do the populace not been vocal? Why does it seem that only a number of opinion makers, politicians, political-interest and cause-oriented groups, politically focused religious persons and self-titled nationalists are the only one vocal? Why does the number of people joining the rally seem to dwindle?

Once burned learned, twice burned a fool.

Are these not the same characters the populace have seen before at EDSA I, at EDSA II, at all the Coup Attempts from the Manila Hotel to Oakwood, and EDSA III. The roles have changed of course and a few trade places. All promise change or the moral need to change those in power. Often justice, honour and nationalism will be invoked. Really? Edsa is indeed an avenue of broken dreams and empty promises.

So can one be surprised at the less than enthusiastic reception of the populace to such calls?

It is quite easy to blame apathy, class, stereotypes and a person but the real blame lies in the failure and betrayal of the hopes and dreams of Edsa.

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