THE COMMEMORATION OF THE EDSA PEOPLE Power revolution this year has provoked a contentious squabble among strategic social groups over the question of who owns Edsa 1.
Twenty four years after Edsa 1, the soldiers, civil society groups, and even the Left, are at loggerheads claiming a franchise of that historic moment that overflowed Edsa with a human flood of more than a million, never seen in any social revolution in the history of protests in this country.
While the uprising at Edsa galvanized normally antagonistic sectors—the formal political opposition, the Catholic Church hierarchy, rebellious factions in the armed forces and the inchoate and unorganized free-floating, middle classes—into a massive protest movement to bring down a hated dictatorship of 14 years, only one element unified them: the indignation against the Marcos regime.
A quarter of century after that grand coalition, the country is hopelessly more fractured than in 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law that dismantled the two-party system democracy.
Nothing illustrates the dissolution of the Edsa mystique than the discordant forms and themes through which this year’s anniversary is commemorated. Even the definition of coup d’etat as a mechanism of political change has drastically changed. In the 1970s, coups were defined as a lightning seizure by tank-led rebellious soldiers of strategic centers of state powers—the presidential palace, military headquarters, telecommunication stations (radio or TV), the legislature and the courts. The 1986 People Power changed all that notion. The post-Edsa coups were carried out with some semblance of negotiations among the coup coalition partners and clothed with legal or constitutional niceties in order to give legitimacy to the new gang of power-grabbers (who were more acceptable and less intimidating to the shocked public). It was in the aftermath of the overthrow of a discredited regime when the squabbles over power sharing and...