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A Salute to the Heroes of EDSA

Thousands flock to EDSA to support the anti-Marcos rebels

n his 2/17/2018 commentary in the Inquirer, Bryan Tiojanco argues why “People Power” still matters. A Yale Law School JSD candidate, who graduated cum laude from UP Law, Bo Tiojanco points out that the Philippines was Asia’s first liberal democracy, but Filipinos appear “all too willing to tolerate dictatorial powers in the name of reform or change.” Many Philippine presidents likewise seemed just as willing to indulge the public and curtail individual freedoms. Emilio Aguinaldo, Manuel Quezon, Manuel Roxas, Ferdinand Marcos—of course, and now Rodrigo Duterte all seem to have manifested dictatorial tendencies while in office. Tiojanco warns that “a liberal democracy whose citizens have little faith in the freedoms of democracy is a dictatorship-in-waiting.”

Jasper Doomen is a professor of Constitutional and Administrative law at the UK’s Open University. In his 2014 Ph.D. thesis, Doomen argues that both freedom and equality are essential to the survival of a liberal democracy. During the Martial Law regime of Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines had neither. Today, Filipinos might have freedom, but most will readily admit that inequality still exists.

Family clans control many towns and cities. And power simply transfers from one generation of oligarchs to the next. There is no level playing field in the Philippines, and the odds are forever stacked in favor of the rich and powerful.

But against all odds, for a brief and shining moment, Filipinos from all walks of life came together and leveled the playing field. From February 22-25, 1986 millions gathered along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to speak with one loud voice against tyranny and abuse. They were not going to take things sitting down anymore. And that voice had the power to send Ferdinand Marcos and his cohorts packing.

Demonstrators lock arms and stand in front of military vehicles halting their advance

Now thirty-one years later, we humbly salute the heroes of EDSA—the millions of men and women, young and old, rich and poor—who stood up to a tyrant and showed the world what People Power was all about. Thank you to all who participated. Published 2/19/2018

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