IT IS not quite historically accurate to say the Filipino people were betrayed by the oligarchs at Edsa. After all, the revolt was initiated by an aggrieved clique in the Marcos-led faction of the oligarchy against a more dominant clique that was closer to Marcos. Although Edsa could not have been won without the people, the fact remains it was essentially a revolt by a faction of the elite.

The Filipino people’s betrayal actually goes back to the revolt against Spanish colonial rule. That one in 1896 was a true people’s revolution, spearheaded by the Katipunan, a mass movement led by the great plebeian, Andres Bonifacio. However, the ilustrado faction of the rebels took over control and leadership of the revolution, got rid of Bonifacio and installed the first of a series of elitist governments that have ruled this country.

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The betrayal continues to this day as evidenced by the subservience of Filipinos to their new home-grown rulers who essentially ape the elitist approach to governance of their Spanish predecessors. For the people, therefore, to risk life and limb and rise against the Marcos dictatorship, it could only mean that martial law had become as unbearable as Spanish colonial rule. Edsa I was only the second time the Filipino people said “Enough” or “Tama na.”

Ferdinand Marcos, therefore, was no hero that Gibo Teodoro should promise Bongbong a proper burial for his father at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Giving Marcos a hero’s burial would in fact qualify as betrayal of the spirit of Edsa that made people stand up against the tanks and gunships of a formidable dictator. He cannot be a people’s hero. He could only be a hero of the oligarchy because he discovered for them a way, martial law, to wield power and wield it absolutely.

(I also received a copy of Cecilio T. Arillo’s book, “Greed and Betrayal: The Sequel to the 1986 Edsa Revolution,” where as early as the first few pages he made what can only be an emotional allegation that Cory Aquino was even worse than Marcos. Anybody who says so is either out of his mind or works for a disgruntled clique in the oligarchy. Cory was, at worst, a political babe in the woods who was helpless against the factions, Kamag-anak, Inc. included, that maneuvered for positions of power behind the throne.)

If we have not had a populist government even after Edsa I, it is not so much because the oligarchy has betrayed the people as we have betrayed ourselves by continuing to put in power those who represent the interests of the elite. We ought to know better now that government by the elite is for the elite, leaving the rest of us to scramble for the crumbs that fall (substantially on an election year) from their tables.