Carvajal: Played for suckers

Break Point

EVERY time the anniversary of Edsa comes around I drive home this point that bears repeating because people continue to romanticize the myth that people power restored democracy at Edsa.

I was at Edsa that fateful day, one of those who exulted near-tearfully at the ouster of a dictator. (This part of the myth is true). But after deeper analysis of post-Edsa political realities I saw the dark truth that lurked behind glorious people power. Factions of the oligarchy that Marcos swept aside with Martial Law actually played us ordinary folks for suckers at Edsa.

The people power revolution was a spontaneous uprising of freedom-loving people who’d had enough of the atrocities of Martial Law. (Revisionists, take note.) Factions, however, of the oligarchy that Marcos excluded from his inner circle, saw another kind of opportunity and rode on our revolt to exploit it. While we ousted Marcos to restore our freedoms, they had in mind only to restore the past elitist system that allowed competing factions of the oligarchy to take turns at controlling the power levers of the country.

For them Marcos’s sin was not the destruction of democracy. There was no democracy to destroy in the first place. For them, his sin was to freeze in his family and cronies the regular cycle of change of power among different factions of the oligarchy through elections that in fact had never been anything else but a mockery of democracy.

There was no true democracy for Marcos to destroy and for Cory Aquino and her clique to restore. What she restored was merely the elitist democracy (which is no democracy at all) that oligarchs took turns controlling before Marcos stopped the cycle by declaring Martial Law. (Romanticists, take note.)

Winners of a revolution usually take over the government they overturn. That we did not win at Edsa is obvious from the fact that some other elite group took over the reins of government after it. Cory Aquino ascended the throne but only as the angelic face of the restored ogre of elitist democracy the Cojuangco-Enrile-Ramos political faction was running from behind her throne.

Somewhere between the romanticists and revisionists lies the dark truth about Edsa. A politically naïve people was being played for suckers by the oligarchy. The latter rode on our freedom wagon to restore not our freedoms but the old system that allowed them exclusive turns at helping themselves to the nation’s wealth.

Edsa’s legacy of restoring democracy is a myth. What Edsa restored was the elitist democracy that Marcos arrogated for himself. It is because we are back to that system of exclusive rule by the elite that we remain the most corrupt and poorest nation in this part of the world.


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