Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nonviolent Philippine revolution: What other nations can learn

Come 25 February, the Philippines will celebrate its 25th anniversary of the bloodless and nonviolent People Power revolution that surprised the world when over two million civilians, political, religious and military figures toppled then President Ferdinand E. Marcos who ruled between 1965 and 1986.
During the time, top-ranking political and military allies of the late dictator broke away from him to start a small group of protesters in an army camp in Metro Manila.
An influential Catholic priest soon picked it up and announced over a religious AM radio station that an uprising is mounting against the dictator.
Needless to say, there were no mobile phones nor Facebook and Twitter the time. The old reliable Radio Veritas was one of the few radio stations brave enough to air anti-martial law calls for protests.
The outcome of any mass action to overthrow a government is unknown "until security forces breaks away from the status quo and joins protesters in the streets," an analysis by former President Fidel V. Ramos, who was one of the two who initiated the calls for Marcos' ouster.
Comparing the violent uprisings in the Middle East--that resulted to several casualties--and the Filipino experience, retired general Ramos said that what is lacking is the military rebellion.
"What you really need is a split in the police and military ranks, when a faction decides to join the people in the streets."
During the time, hundreds of thousands of religious people and civilians gave flowers and hugged the army in the tanks, prayed in the streets, chanted for the dictator to step down, and all the works.
There were two presidential inaugurations that took place the time--one for the dictator and the other one for the country's first woman president Corazon C. Aquino, mother of incumbent president Benigno Aquino III.
After the intercession of the United States, Marcos together with his wife, Imelda--who left over 2,000 pairs of shoes--and family, fled to Hawaii to seek political asylum.
The country has had two more people powers after that. Somehow it became a mob rule, as other analysts have described. Somehow also, the luster of the original uprising has waned.
Attributing that the peaceful 1986 revolution to a military group might seem self-serving, Ramos conceded and finally said, "I do not know if we did it better then. But I think we did our work there at that time."
More information here.

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