Reclaim EDSA from the Elite
Sanlakas Statement on the 27th Anniversay Celebration of EDSA I People Power Revolution
Sanlakas, together with the Filipino people, celebrates today the EDSA People Power I anniversary. But while it is an important milestone in the democratic struggle to end the tyrannical regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos, it is but a culmination of decades of sacrifice – in sweat, tears, and blood – of the Filipino working class.
Years before the fateful day of February 25, 1986, the working class has long been openly challenging Marcos through daring and innovative mass actions, the most famous of which is the daring La Tondeña strikes in October 1975. From this we learn an important lesson – victories are not won overnight, and it is through smaller collective actions that we build political revolutions. It is through smaller struggles that we set the conditions for quantum leaps in the movement for the advancement of our democratic rights.
Unfortunately, a section of the traditional political elite has successfully manoeuvred to claim the anti-Marcos struggle as their own, relegating in history books the role of unionists, indigenous peoples, and peasants to mere footnotes. The grand effort towards historical revisionism is so great that while anti-Marcos politicians from the Liberal Party bask in public glory and help themselves in partaking state power, scores of Martial Law-era political detainees continue to rot in jail without hope of release. The activists who fought for our democratic rights continue to be pursued, tortured, and incarcerated by the very government which existence had only been possible because of their sacrifice. Until now, the deaths of labour and student leaders like Ka Lando Olalia and Lean Alejandro, perpetrated by the military backers of post-EDSA regimes, remain to be without justice.
But it is not just the history of the struggle which the elite stole from the working class, it is also the outcome. The post-EDSA administrations have seen the return of traditional politicians which basically continued a foreign policy subservient to the imperial power of the United States. Land reform has been derailed by a landlord-dominated Congress, purchasing power of the working class consumers continue to decay even as inflation remains low, and every Filipino still owe P59,000 in debt. Meanwhile, the oligarchy which has been the target of Marcos’ “democratic revolution from the center”, and which Marcos himself perpetrated by creating new plutocrats from his pool of cronies, has further entrenched themselves through the purchase of privatized public utilities sold at the height of Ramos’ neoliberal frenzy. Nothing has changed in this respect.
This, while the section of the elite which took over has largely bungled in their mandate to make the Marcoses pay for their crimes. The Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) recently announced that they are waving the white flag, even as they are yet to reclaim more than half of Marcos’ loot. The Marcoses themselves are back into power, with a Senator, Governor, and Congressman. The annual platitudes and self-congratulatory remarks of this elite must be put side-by-side with its two-decade long story of incompetence and impotence. But we suspect that goes beyond incompetence, and it just shows their insincerity and hypocrisy when they fought with the working class to put Marcos and his cohorts to justice.
Clearly, it is time that we reclaim EDSA from the elite. Sanlakas calls on the Filipino working class to remember its historical role in EDSA, and repudiate the elite which has stolen the victory from us.
February 25, 2013
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