The lost meaning of EDSA

By Herbert Vego

TODAY (February 22, 2023) reminds us of the start of the four-day bloodless “EDSA People Power Revolution” 37 years ago (February 22 to 25, 1986) that toppled the 20-year regime of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos. I was 36 but I can still recall the day it unfolded.

That afternoon, I was treating myself to a lonesome merienda at Amigo Terrace Hotel to celebrate the birthday of my mother Alicia (now deceased), who was a hundred kilometers away in Antique. I had with me a portable transistor radio.

The hot news being beamed by all radio stations focused on the then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Philippine Constabulary Chief Fidel Ramos who had attempted a failed coup d’etat and were holed in with fellow mutineers at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In those four days, the eyes of the rest of the world – through the magic of television – focused on the swelling anti-Marcos multitude at Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) that eventually forced the dictator to flee to Hawaii, paving the way for President Corazon Aquino to take over even if she had “lost” to Marcos – so said the government-controlled Commission on Elections (Comelec) — in the snap election of February 7, 1986.

What happened thereafter is now recorded history, hence familiar to the then unborn elementary and high school students. But they must be wondering whether a strong sense of pride still lingers in their parents’ heart and mind.

People Power Revolution is a special non-working day in the Philippines, observed every 25th of February.

At the moment, however, this writer wonders how the present government under Pres. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. would commemorate that chapter in Philippine history, since he and his ilk are said to be moving heaven and hell to revise history.

I don’t remember immediate past President Rodrigo Duterte attending any of the “People Power” ceremonies during his entire six-year term. But he did pay lip service, as in 2022 when he issued this bland media statement: “This celebration serves as a strong reminder that with unity, cooperation and faith, there is nothing that we cannot collectively achieve for the greater good of our country.

Six years of Duterte, however, showcased an autocratic regime that must have been worse than that of the late Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. But that’s another sorry I would not play up here.

I would rather bet my “pinakbet” that this week’s 37th anniversary of People Power would see Bongbong veering away from any government-organized re-enactment of People Power that disabled his father’s dictatorship and installed the revolutionary government of President Corazon Aquino.

There are indicators that he would live up to being a “weak President” as predicted by the predecessor he seems to be afraid of. One of them is his tendency to yield to political pressures — say as initiated by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, urging him not to surrender Duterte and his police officers over to a full-blown investigation on “extra-judicial killings” by the International Criminal Court (ICC). They cite as their ground Duterte’s withdrawal from the ICC in 2018.

Ouch! Marcos is not obliged to surrender Duterte to the ICC probe, which is a fact-finding mission on crimes against humanity.  If Duterte has no skeletons in the closet, what is he afraid of?

Marcos should beware of violating Article 127, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute which states that a country’s withdrawal from the ICC “”shall not affect any cooperation with the Court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing State had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.”

Bongbong Marcos was one of the majority senators, including then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who ratified the Rome Statute on Aug. 30, 2011 during the incumbency of the late President Noynoy Aquino.

Therefore, it is not too late for the present President to redeem his father’s image, no matter how ironic. The way to do it is to imbibe the spirit of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that attempted to revive the ideals of true freedom and democracy.



THE Daily Guardian editor, Francis Allan L. Angelo, correctly observed yesterday that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) failed to explain what “system disturbance” caused the long blackout all over Panay and Guimaras on Monday.

It’s a pity that, as usual, public blame focused on the distribution utilities – MORE Power, ILECO, Akelco, Capelco, Anteco and Guimelco – which were themselves victims of the “disturbance” that must have cost them millions of pesos in missed income.

The NGCP is a national monopoly that transmits electricity from the power plants to the distribution utilities which, in turn, convey it to households and commercial buildings.

The inability of NGCP to appease the power consumers has led a broadcaster to ask, “What if that power outage was aimed at warning us of what China could do to destabilize the Philippines?”

While we are not inclined to believe it, what if it’s possible?

Based on a “googled” information, the NGCP is now a private consortium of Filipino and tycoons and their technical partner, the State Grid Corporation of China, which owns 40% of the company.”

In other words, although “Chinoys” or Chinese-Filipino moguls appear to be in control, the government of China owns 40% of the company. The chairman of the board, Zhu Guangchaois also the director general of the International Cooperation Department of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).

“Chinoys” Henry T. Sy Jr. and Robert Coyiuto Jr. play second fiddle as vice-chairman.

To the question of whether the Chinese government could shut off the grid in case of conflict with the Philippine government, let us go back to a CNN report by James Griffiths, “China can shut off the Philippines’ power grid at any time,” which was published here and abroad on November 26, 2019.

The lead of the story said, “The Philippines’ power grid is under the full control of the Chinese government and could be shut off in times of conflict. “

It quoted the opinion of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian that “a takeover can happen.”

OMG, huwag po!