Edited by Brian Bridges and Lok Sang Ho
Chapter 13: From Marcos to Arroyo – What Went Wrong for Democracy in the Philippines?
James A. Rice There can be no tyrants where there are no slaves. Jose Rizal The worst form of oppression is internal colonialism, and Filipino nationalists never address that. The country is being plundered by oligarchs. Francisco Sionil Jose INTRODUCTION In February 1986, over one million people rallied in the EDSA district of Manila.1 They did so, at the risk of their lives, in order to protect a group of dissident army officers (known as the Reform the Armed Forces of the Philippines Movement, or RAM) who had refused to obey any further orders issued by the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.2 In the final unravelling of Marcos’s grip on power, the soldiers sent to quell the rebellion at Camp Crame refused to fire on the crowd and instead joined the mass protest. The Marcos era of ‘authoritarian constitutionalism’, which had lasted for nearly a quarter of a century, finally ended. On 26 February 1986 the dictator and his family were ignobly removed from their official residence in an American military helicopter. Ferdinand Marcos would spend the rest of his life in exile in the American state of Hawaii.3 At the time, there was euphoria at the dramatic and peaceful outcome of the EDSA movement. The symbolism that was evident in the dramatic events of February 1986 could not be overlooked. Ordinary people, unarmed and peacefully assembled, had defied the armed might of a ruthless dictator. The champion of this struggle, Corazon Aquino, was widely hailed as being the person who...