Why We Should Never Forget EDSA Revolution of 1986
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, February 26, 2019 4:42pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel
In 1986, Filipinos fought former president Ferdinand Marcos. Citizens rallied on the streets, shouting for freedom and justice against the dictator. Marcos stepped down from his position and democracy reigned in the nation. Years later, the Philippines still commemorate the historic EDSA People Power Revolution.
To celebrate the freedom from the Marcos regime, February 25th became EDSA People Power Revolution Day, a non-working holiday. We all know what People Power is, but we sometimes lack the knowledge about its whole essence—how did the People Power Revolution start? Why do we still celebrate the occasion even over three decades? How important is this revolution to the country’s democracy?
The dark days
Bombings (Plaza Miranda being one of the deadliest), the rise of student violence, and threats from rebel groups, were the grounds on why Marcos took measures into his own hands. On September 21, 1972, Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081, which placed the whole nation under Martial Law.
Martial Law reduced urban crime, unregistered firearms, and rebellion. In a nutshell, Martial Law was meant to put the country into order. It transferred all the powers to the president. But what was meant to put peace and order to the country became a nightmare to the citizens. Data showed that over 100,000 people are Martial Law victims from 1972 to 1981. Those that opposed were arrested, tortured, and some were even killed.
The Marcos government ordered several newspaper companies, TV, and radio stations to close down, depriving media practitioners of press freedom.
The continuous tyranny awakened the Filipinos to reality. When former Senator Benigno Aquino was assassinated after a three-year self-imposed exile in the United States, Filipinos were outraged and became suspicious of the Marcos government. People questioned his presidency, pressuring him to hold snap elections, in which Corazon Aquino was his rival.
Marcos won the elections on February 7, 1986, but it was later revealed results were manipulated. Commission on Elections (COMELEC) employees walked out, which solidified the elections results were indeed forged. On February 22, about hundred thousands of people began to march down EDSA in a bid to throw over Marcos out of the presidency. Thus, the EDSA People Power Revolution began. People marched together for non-violent resistance and to form a human barricade against the military. Not long after, the majority of the troops joined the movement.
The PH’s contribution to the world
This revolution became known to the world. Time magazine even wrote a feature of the “bloodless revolution.” On February 25, four days since the people power march, Marcos escaped and left the Philippines. Corazon Aquino would become the new president, but her administration is another story.
After Martial Law, the Freedom Constitution was made to protect the rights of the citizens. From that day forward, the Philippines was free of the 21-year Marcos administration. Democracy returned within the nation, and it is all because Filipinos united for a purpose. People indeed have power.
EDSA People Power Revolution brought all the Filipinos who would want to be free of a dictator’s chains. The “bloodless war” required the sacrifice of many to bring democracy back in the country. This is the reason we enjoy the liberty we have now. We have won against tyranny so let’s not put it to waste. As the Philippines’ citizens, it is our duty to keep our country peaceful as to not repeat the Martial Law era. And while we should never let history repeat itself, we should also never forget the dark days and how every Filipino fought their way towards freedom.