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February 26, 2008

With respect to EDSA People Power, I am ambivalent. Yesterday’s celebration wore the same ambivalence in appearance: a celebration that has to tread with care in identifying exactly what to laud, what to ritualize, what to uphold— from among a treasure trove. Twenty two years since, we now know there is something about it that is both laudable and dreadful: EDSA People Power is a moral tool that could win you freedom from bad government– or a contrivance to undermine institutions, well, depending on which side of the political divide you stand. Thus, this is a celebration where you could not endorse the entirety of the historic event but only the “spirit” as alone it would conform to the agenda on hand and the idea you find agreeable for your purpose. Noteworthy is the awkwardness of government representatives picking out such a slim theme in “unity” and omitting the much-larger revolt aspect of EDSA, lest it be “misunderstood” as abetting another one. The President’s absence could be out of fear that her presence would so highlight one supreme irony and set off the same sentiment that sparked the original cause. On the other hand, in the case of the opposition, while it has wider room to wiggle in and out, it too must walk with caution for the very fluid dynamics of power could readily lead to a sudden reversal of roles.

The world-renowned EDSA 1 had set the precedent. Thus, for all intents and purposes, EDSA 2 is EDSA 1’s daughter by virtue of inspiration. And, should there be an EDSA 3, it would be the grand offspring. Question is: when is people power People Power and not a Mob? My oversimplifying mind tells me if you hated Marcos in 1986, it was People Power; if you liked him, an ugly Mob. Same with Estrada in 2001.

EDSA is a consequence of utter failure of institutions to muster trust of society at large. Presently, the trusting cognizance being encouraged on our institutions is either naïveté or a calculated invitation to a trap. In such a scandal as the NBN-ZTE deal, appeals like “Go prove your case in the Ombudsman” sound pretty much like “You have any problem? Go tell my mama!” mouthed by a school bully after a kick on your groin. Such is the attribute of backward societies. In them institutions are mere ornaments; poor attempts at mimicking modernism without the proper social infrastructure and orientation, they all fall flat; where there are undue demands imposable on the instruments of the state, they are held captive to the machinations of the powerful and influential so that their interest is served and not that of justice.  Let’s settle this one in the proper forum, say the landlord to his aggrieved tenant, all the while making mathematical computations, jogging his memory of friends in high places who could make arrangements with the arbiter.  The tenant, respectful of institutions, prepares his case dutifully, hopeful the forum will give him his proper due…

As it is the nature of justice to seek its satisfaction in its all-encompassing glory, when the ends of justice are ill served, it must find settlement elsewhere and force its way out like steam that must come out from an airtight kettle, or it would explode—

–Hence a phenomenon like EDSA.

Or revolutions.

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