Juan Ponce Enrile (center), Gringo Honasan (far right) and others during the 1986 People Power Revolution.
A big irony in modern-day Philippine history happened on Feb. 25, 2017.
Filipinos observed the 31st year of the bloodless 1986 People Power Revolution in two large groups, in two different places.
The Duterte followers were told to go to the Luneta.
The pro-democracy group observed the day at the People Power Shrine in Mandaluyong City.
Never before in three decades of observing this glorious day was there such polarization among Filipinos.
It only happened under President Duterte’s watch.
Because in our view, this president, wittingly or unwittingly, could be toeing an agenda, either dictated or inspired by China, which Filipino constitutionalists and exponents of democracy have begun to notice.
Usually, there are four steps in this kind of political exercise, which, are apparently happening or may take place in the Philippines.
Step 1. Consolidation of the masses by organizing the people under a people’s party (“Samahang Pagbabago”).
It is being organized by the cabinet secretary in the Duterte government, a priest who used to be a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
History tells us this kind of organization uses false news and propaganda to win the people to its side.
Step 2. Consolidation of people at the top.
(Elimination of critics and silencing dissent, including the Catholic Church. Examples, so far, are bitter criticisms against the Church and the priests; the arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima; and removal of opposition senators from chairmanship positions in Senate committees.)
Step 3. Absolute Power at the top (Martial Law).
Step 4. China quietly enters and controls the PH.
Actress Marian Rivera in a scene depicting the 1986 event.
One way is by granting huge loans at high interest rates like what they did to now crumbling Venezuela.
At this stage, the entire West Philippine Sea will be in their bag.
And the local economy, their hostage.
We hope we are wrong.
But, we see democracy darkening in the horizon of the native country.
On Feb. 25, 1986, when 2 million united Filipinos from all walks of life (citizens, military, religious groups, government personnel, business people) demonstrated along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) for three days, then dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos was forced to go to exile in Hawaii and gave up the presidency after 20 years of repressive authoritarian rule.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been in office only for eight months.
But, his expressed pro-China leanings, including his acquiescence on the Philippines winning claims in the West Philippine Sea, prompted author Alfred W. McCoy, recognized as “one of the world’s leading historians of Southeast Asia and an expert on Philippine political history,” to give an assessment with respect to the Philippine military organization.
Prof. McCoy said that since Filipino soldiers are professionals and are trained to adhere to human rights and respect for the rule of law; and to protect the people and the country and to ensure the integrity of national sovereignty and territory, President Duterte’s pro-China stance may compel the Philippine military to be against him.
The respected Spanish philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The crowd at the People Power Revolution.