Open critical discussions on EDSA People Power instead of 'simply celebrating' anniversary: sociologist

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 25 2021 03:04 AM

Open critical discussions on EDSA People Power instead of 'simply celebrating' anniversary: sociologist 1
EDSA 1986. People climb on top of the main gate of Camp Crame as the crowd along EDSA multiplies to tens of thousands. Photo: The Eggie Apostol Foundation

MANILA - Annual celebrations of the EDSA People Power - hailed as Asia's lone peaceful revolution - has waned over the years after supporters of the historic movement failed to address questions about the failures of the protest that toppled Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorship, a sociologist said Wednesday.

Influential figures and supporters of the EDSA People Power Revolution have created an "echo chamber" where those who joined the march were celebrated while those who did not back it were vilified, sociologist Jayeel Cornelio said in an online forum a day before the mass protest's 35th anniversary.

"When we think of the narratives of EDSA, laging mayroong yabang because it is always framed na mayroong good versus evil," he said.

(When we think of the narratives of EDSA, there is always a sense of gloating because it is always framed as good versus evil.)

"The moment you frame it this way, you are rendering everyone wrong. It's either you are on the good side or not," he said.

While the restoration of Philippine democracy in 1986 was a feat that warranted a celebration, the government that replaced Marcos' decades-long reign fell short of addressing poverty and corruption in government, historian Lisandro Claudio said in an earlier forum.

"If EDSA [People Power] was really a transformative moment in politics, how come bumalik lang yung mga trapo (traditional politicians made a comeback)?" he said.

Instead of "simply celebrating" the fall of dictatorship and the rise democracy every February 25th, institutions should open critical discussions to entice young Filipinos to build on the gains and shortcomings of the Philippines' peaceful revolution, Cornelio said.

"The moment we question the event, maybe it can become far more convincing to our young people," he said.

"Maybe they can see na, 'O, nag-fail siya (Yes, it failed), but it also succeeded in this regard,'" he said.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte replaced former President Benigno Aquino III - scion of EDSA People Power icons Benigno Aquino Jr. and Corazon Aquino - annual commemorations of the peaceful revolution have not been marked with much fanfare.

While Duterte still released annual messages to mark the EDSA People Power anniversary every year, the Davaoeño president - whose 2016 presidential campaign was backed by the Marcos family - skipped conventional wreath-laying rites in People Power monuments.

"Inspired by the freedoms that we secured in February 1986, let us all rise above our petty political differences so that we may, together, ensure that the legacy of EDSA will remain relevant in the years ahead," Duterte said a statement released on the 34th EDSA People Power anniversary last year.

Instead of "targeting the public sphere" to reestablish the importance of EDSA and democracy, stalwarts should "go small scale" as Filipinos - especially the youth - prefer "avenues where they could be heard," he said.

"Go small scale. Begin with your families, talk about these issues with your families or in the classroom," he said.

"Go small scale. Revolutions begin with small scale episodes anyway," he said.

The sociologist also agreed with previous observations that the clergy should also avoid labeling the EDSA People Power revolution as a victory of the Roman Catholic Church to avoid alienating Filipinos from other religious groups.

"Every time we make this statement, we're not really helping deepen democratic conversations," Cornelio said.

"Simply celebrating it as such... we will only be singing praises to each other and it will be an echo chamber."

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