The Two Edsas as Failures

The Weekly Inquirer Analysis


By Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Ph.D.

The uproar to unseat President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo—she with her bundle of palay in her best kimona yet and her bundle of Baguio aka American roses in her best finery—has temporarily died down.

Nevertheless, the eye of the storm has yet to be neutralized. In the dark depths of Philippine politics as practiced and perpetuated by the elites, the phantoms of this ominous opera of our collective destruction loom large before us.

If there is euphoria in the Palace by the murky Pasig River at this time, it is because the main actors of Edsa People I and Edsa People Power II—the critical mass—are not biting the bullet of the drumbeaters of this new war being waged by both the tenants of the Palace and those who are posturing as saviors of the Filipino people and nation.

The clue here is this perennial posturing of these same traditional politicians from all sides of the fences. Their posturing is one of a self-promotion that they are themselves the Messiahs we are awaiting.

The Messiahs as them, they hold in their boisterous language that end up as empty rhetoric, are the great redeemers of this damaged and raped land. They are the redeemers our people need—the people bruised by the brutality of our dirty and slaughter politics, the people who have been badly damaged by decades and decades of democratized poverty and neglect.

Now we know: if citizenship is accounted only—and only by virtue of being born--into the bowels of the homeland’s earth forever marked by the wrangling of the beneficiaries of the homeland’s failure to serve justice to the underprivileged—then, citizenship is a given and not—never—an individual and social project.

The opposition has failed to muster the number it needs to topple down the Arroyo administration despite the warm bodies of the protesters for hire.

It will not take long—not even a wink—to make us realize that the thinking masses cannot anymore be hoodwinked into swallowing hook, line, and sinker what the oppositionists have been claiming as the unpardonable sin of the administration—by President Arroyo, in particular, she with her trademark dull voice that lacks any cadence and reassuring rhythm. That voice has to be have presidential timber and tone if she wants to effect change—at least, in words. Even Rene Facunla—the Ate Glow of showbiz—can imitate with cunning and calculation her “Mahal kong kababayan” because of that voice’s bland tone and predictability.

If the presidency were to be measured by a political moron’s ability to deliver bombastic lines to add flair of drama to one’s boast and lies, then Rene Facunla the Ate Glow could easily become a six-year tenant of the Palace of Power, Perk, and Pelf. Ate Glow could handily unseat the president because he—Rene Facunla the Ate Glow, he with his patadyong and terno, he with his fake mole ala Nora Aunor and President Macapagal—can sashay to the tune of “Huling-huli! Huling-huli!”

The “Huling-huli!” was an anthem of redemption at EDSA People Power II. The Lady with that mien of a brooding mother looked down on the congregation of believers of justice and fairness at her foot. It was also a hymn of rage, a canto of the most primeval rage that was needed to re-claim, once and for all, what was denied of us—dignity of the most fundamental kind.

The dignity to re-claim ownership of the nation.

The dignity to say that Filipinos ought to be loved by the Philippines.

The dignity to say that we have come to this point of despair and hopelessness because most of our leaders have not been responsible but only self-serving; because they did not know the meaning of ministering to the citizens; and because all they knew was to amass wealth for their own benefit and those of their children and their children’s children.

The “Huling-huli!” could have been a chant at EDSA People Power I when the thinking masses at EDSA People Power II were perhaps younger or were yet to be born. At EDSA I, the critical masses sang “Ang Bayan Ko” with the clenched fist—right or left did not matter. What mattered was the fist was clenched and when the fist is clenched, there is no rubric of struggle that concerns itself with useless details.

But then EDSA I and EDSA II failed us—and they failed us miserably.

There was much promise for redemption.

What were redeemed were the oligarchic interests of the few who were haunted by the Marcoses and their cronies. In effect, we see the same economic elites coming back and soon—these elites reclaimed their political seats in Congress, in the provincial capitals, in city halls—anywhere where there is that healthy mix of clout and political connection for money-making and for ransacking the nation’s coffers.

The farce that happened—and is continuing to be shown on the Philippine political stage—this farce that called for the dethronement of the reigning regime has not gathered enough momentum and has not succeeded in producing—managed or coming off naturally—another EDSA because the first two have failed us miserably.

The beneficiaries of these EDSAs did not only turn their back on the redemptive relevance of these revolutions that proved to the world that there are other meaningful avenues to meaningful reforms.

The beneficiaries also squandered the rare opportunity given them by the people—their power and faith in them included.

Such wastage in another EDSA cannot happen too soon. The people have seen—and in their seeing, they have come to know that the elites are all wrong, that they are lying to us, that they are opportunists at every turn.

The President was right about that—about this EDSA not coming too soon—not because she was reading with analytical insight the historical conditions of our society and our people; her statement simply aimed to mask her fear and trembling that if we did, that would be the end of her administration. It was therefore more of a fake warning shot for the masses, one akin to the tactic that scares off kids from running around dark streets, “Hala, andiyan ang pulis, andiyan ang mangkukulam, andiyan ang multo.”

The President did not do it right when she called that Comelec man Garci, now famously infamous for the alleged machinations he is capable of doing. That was a sad end to empty public life, this one of Garci—and that could have been the engine through which the masses could get another gathering and re-gathering to reclaim their rightful place in the grand design of all things essential to the project to redeem a long suffering people.

Even with the hysterics of some NBI guys with the help of some artistas with tongue-lashing abilities—and the weak accommodation of some clerics who are always in perennial pursuit of truth but who cannot see their own lies—the call for another EDSA is a bubble call because was not any decent callers left.

Who could believe in the callers, many of them benefactors of criminals and thieves even as they are beneficiaries of thievery and criminality?

One thing that we cannot do is underestimate the thinking masses, well, not each member of the masses on the street who allows himself to be used by the producers of protests and who cry foul for both the truth and the money, “Kasi, kulang ang ibinayad for shouting, Ibagsak, Ibagsak!”

There is a mild mockery here.

There is that primitive ethics of survival as well before discoursing about civic correctness and the politics of food and the morality of money coming from thieves and shenanigans.

But then again, we are learning from these histories of our struggles that have come about since time immemorial, from the moment the first occupiers set foot on our islands and claimed our souls as theirs and their king. They had their religion to keep us in check, like that Padre Damaso that had not died even until today.

With the tempering declaration of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that called for the accounting of truth but not for the unequivocal resignation of the President, the storms have died down—for now. EDSA or no EDSA, the show goes on.

With the charter change and the Parliamentary form of government proposed by the President in her State of the Nation Address, the next target of political darting—as if the political darters do not have their own blown-up pictures for practice—we expect some more of these comic extravaganzas in the coming days.

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