Moving forward to a more meaningful revolution
How much of development is felt by the common man for him to say he has benefitted from that "freedom" that we reclaimed in 1986? How much of our economy is free for anyone to enjoy opportunity equally? How many are capable of making a serious candidacy for a public position?
Many say Edsa 1986, which we commemorated recently, is not a revolution but a restoration of the old ruling class. We are still underdeveloped and politics remain dominated by a few. Civil society has become stronger and now plays a vital part in governance, but mostly politics remain to be about getting to power and not about policies and programs.
And because many of our leaders have failed miserably to transcend this kind of politics, there are Filipinos who, sadly, now express nostalgia for the Marcos era. What could this mean? That we could lose the spirit of Edsa if things remain the same.
To be sure, there were notable legislations that significantly contributed to consolidating our democracy. The most important would be the 1991 Local Government Code (LGC) that decentralized power and devolved key public services that are best addressed at the local level following the principle of subsidiarity. This did not only lead to remarkable development in the countryside, at least in those localities that were lucky enough to have well-meaning local leaders.
Even with the many flaws in the law, the marginalized now officially takes part in elections and is represented in the House of Representatives under the Party List Act of 1995. In 1997, despite notable conflicts with other laws like the LGC, our indigenous peoples' rights were recognized with the passage of the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act. Last, but certainly not the least, reforms were also introduced in banking, telecommunications, and other public utilities.
We should also count the many attempts to review and revise the 1987 Constitution, including the most recent, which is championed by the President’s allies in the House of Representatives. The 1987 Constitutions is mainly an effort to prevent another dictatorship and not to have good governance and really make a revolution out of EDSA in 1986. We need it revisit it to put systemic reforms now.
In celebrating EDSA 1986, it is important to remember that there are fundamental changes that remain to be pursued, changes that the singer Yano asked about just a few years after 1986: "Kumusta na, ayos pa ba? Ang buhay natin, kaya pa ba?" We had a president who called for a "strong republic" but left the institutions of that republic still weak, if not weaker. Now we have one who claims to lead us to a "straight path," but a few years remain in his administration and the infrastructure for that path has yet to even start.
We deserve more
We need to remember EDSA so that we don't lose sight of the reforms that remain in our wish list. We need to remember EDSA, not only for the personalities that certainly played a significant part to make it a reality and for us to enjoy our freedom, but more importantly to remember that we deserve so much more. This to me is the spirit of EDSA. This to me is the reason why some have yet to be convinced that a revolution took place then, and maybe it is an unfinished revolution.
We can at least start with the important pieces of legislation we have enumerated above. We need a thorough and vigorous review of them that should result in revisions. In the process, we should also take a sober, objective look at the 1987 Constitution and understand why there is a need to change it.
We should not get tired of pursuing what is needed in order to have a country that we can really be proud of, a land where our heartaches and hardwork pays. Despite some saying we are an impatient people, we lack discipline, and we are not discerning enough, evidence would point to us not thinking twice about doing things assiduously, caring enough to follow rules and procedures, and being sophisticated enough to tell what is right from wrong.
Look at how we have voted every election since 1989 when we first voted under a democratic leadership. Every election, there is a trend that is different from the previous, suggesting we've been adjusting, learning from our previous choices.
Despite the propaganda all around, rather more remarkable than ever, we can tell what is true and what is not. We have been celebrating EDSA each year since 1986, yes, but without doubt there's a good chance we'll have a more meaningful celebration of a revolution after 2016. So let's prepare to choose right. – Rappler.com
Edmund S. Tayao is a professor at the University of Santo Tomas Department of Political Science, and is executive director of the Local Government Development Foundation.