How EDSA I was assembled and fabricated

Wednesday September 19, 2018 ()

If EDSA was a miracle at all, it was only assembled in the Philippines. The key components were designed and fabricated elsewhere. Where? Look West, to Washington.

When Ninoy's murder wasn't enough to foment a revolutionary situation that should have quickly toppled the Marcos regime, the US government tightened the garrote: payments of rentals for the use of the military bases slowed to a trickle, the International Monetary Fund dictated austerity measures that would have been politically suicidal to adopt, and multinationals accelerated the flight of dollars from the Philippines.

The destabilization project was reminiscent of US President Richard Nixon's directive to the CIA in the early 1970s to make the economy scream in Chile, to undermine the presidency of Salvador Allende.

EDSA I
(A scene from EDSA 1986)

Finally, when the revolutionary situation had been primed, the triggers were activated in sequence: the pressure to call a presidential snap election and the bishops' call for civil disobedience to reject a fourth Marcos presidency, two days before the official count of the votes was finished; the mutiny, announced through a press conference; Cardinal Sin's radio broadcast for the Catholics to flock to EDSA; the US ambassador's assurance to the mutineers that American forces will not be used against them; the offer from President Ronald Reagan that the US was ready to assure the safety of the Marcoses in America if President Marcos would agree to give way to a transition government; the follow-up on Reagan's offer, with the suggestion that the Filipinos formulate a transition team to be headed by Cory Aquino and Doy Laurel; the US bully's warning to President Marcos not to use air strikes or heavy artillery against the mutineers; the advice to President Marcos from Reagan's confidante, Sen. Paul Laxalt, that the time had come to step down.

If one side-miracle of EDSA was its relative bloodlessness, how could the credit go to Ninoy or Cory for that matter? Marcos deserves it more. Millions heard him on TV, when he sternly rejected pleas to use air power and heavy artillery against the mutineers. True, the Americans had warned him against these, with the threat to cut off military aid and development assistance. But it was more the prospect of civil war, which the communists were poised to exploit, that made Marcos recoil from the use of massive force, the Truth and Justice Foundation said.

Unknown to many, when the mutiny began, the CPP/NPA Central Committee and General Staff had assembled in a convent in Rizal and the full force of their Alex Boncayao Brigade was put on red alert in Metro Manila. In the periphery of the National Capital Region, several crack NPA units were positioned to move into the fray.

Had mayhem broken out in EDSA, the communists would have used the confusion as a cover for a general offensive, during which they were to seize strategic government facilities and military installations. A civil war would then have broken out. Non confrontation was the gambit that Marcos took, in a knowing sacrifice that in averting civil war, he was also deliberately sealing his own fate.

EDSA was certainly not a spontaneous, unplanned or unorchestrated undertaking. Behind the scenes, powerful actors had prepared the stage, rehearsed or coached the major characters in the cast. EDSA was thus not a miracle, although it seems a mystery to many. Neither was it a revolution. To the Dominican priest Fr. Delfo C. Canceran, it was at best a "pseudo-revolution." He wrote in 1994:

"If EDSA is a revolution in its real sense, then it must have been accompanied by a radical change in our social structure. But this did not happen. Poverty remains the basic problem of the masses. The EDSA revolution is a pseudo-revolution."

A scholar in the field of liberation theology, the missionary James R. Whelchel, arrived at a similar conclusion from a different perspective:

"Liberationists point out what they consider an important fact concerning the EDSA revolution. ‘People Power' took place in Manila, not in the province[s]. It was more the mobilizing of the middle class than a grassroots movement of the poor. The ‘heroes' of the revolution were all members of the oligarchy—Aquino, Enrile, and Ramos… [I]n the eyes of liberationists, they were not disposed to radically restructure society. At best, they could be considered reformers. To [the] Theology of Struggle, the EDSA event was merely a changing of the guard, not a revolution."

Sources:

  • Political idolatry: US tightened the garrote, Cecilio Arillo, September 18, 2018, Business Mirror


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