People Power Revolution
|People Power Revolution|
|Date||22 February 1986
– 25 February 1986 |
|Location||Philippines, primarily Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Metro Manila|
|Goals||Removal of Ferdinand Marcos from office
to put Corazon Aquino as the President
|Parties to the civil conflict|
Part of a series on the
|History of the Philippines|
|Attempts at regime change in the Philippines (1970–2007)|
|First Quarter Storm (1970)|
|People Power (1986)|
|Honasan's Second (1989)|
|Second EDSA (2001)|
|May 1 riots (2001)|
|Oakwood mutiny (2003)|
|State of emergency (2006)|
|Manila Peninsula rebellion (2007)|
The People Power Revolution (also known as the EDSA Revolution and the Philippine Revolution of 1986) was a series of popular demonstrations in the Philippines that began in 1983 and culminated on February 22–25, 1986. There was a sustained campaign of civil resistance against regime violence and electoral fraud. The nonviolent revolution led to the departure of President Ferdinand Marcos and the restoration of democracy in the Phillippines.
It is also referred to as the Yellow Revolution due to the presence of yellow ribbons during the demonstrations following the assassination of Filipino senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. It was widely seen as a victory of the people against the 20-year running authoritarian, repressive regime of then president Ferdinand Marcos, and made news headlines as "the revolution that surprised the world".
The majority of the demonstrations took place on a long stretch of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, more commonly known by its acronym EDSA, in Metro Manila from February 22–25, 1986. They involved over two million Filipino civilians, as well as several political and military groups, and religious groups led by Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manila and the CBCP President Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, the Archbishop of Cebu. The protests, fueled by the resistance and opposition from years of corrupt governance by Marcos, culminated with the departure of the dictator from Malacañang Palace to Hawaii. Corazon Aquino was proclaimed as the legitimate President of the Philippines after the revolution.
- 1 Background and history
- 2 Assassination of Ninoy Aquino
- 3 Calls for election
- 4 1986 election
- 5 Vidal's declaration
- 6 Events
- 7 Aftermath
- 8 Legacy
- 9 Timeline
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Bibliography
Background and history
Ferdinand E. Marcos was elected president in 1965, defeating incumbent Diosdado Macapagal by a very slim margin. During this time, Marcos was very active in the initiation of public works projects and the intensification of tax collections. Marcos and his government claimed that they "built more roads than all his predecessors combined, and more schools than any previous administration." Amidst charges of vote buying and a fraudulent election, Marcos was reelected in 1969, this time defeating Sergio Osmeña, Jr.
Marcos' second term for the presidency was marred by allegations of widespread graft and corruption. The increasing disparity of wealth between the very wealthy and the very poor which made up the majority of the Philippines' population led to a rise in crime and civil unrest around the country. These factors, including the formation of the New People's Army, a Communist insurgency that called for the redistribution of wealth and land reform in the Philippines, and a bloody Muslim separatist movement in the southern island of Mindanao led by the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF, contributed to the rapid rise of civil discontent and unrest in the Philippines.
Marcos was barred from running for a third term as president in 1973. On September 23, 1972, by virtue of a presidential proclamation (No. 1081), he declared martial law, citing rising civil disobedience as a justification. Through this decree, Marcos seized emergency powers giving him full control of the Philippines' military and the authority to suppress and abolish the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, and many other civil liberties. Marcos also dissolved the Philippine Congress and shut down media establishments critical of the Marcos government.
Marcos also ordered the immediate arrest of his political opponents and critics. Among those arrested were Senate President Jovito Salonga, Senator Jose Diokno, and Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., the staunchest of his critics and the man who was groomed by the opposition to succeed Marcos after the 1973 elections.
Marcos abolished the Philippines' 1935 constitution and replaced it with a parliamentary-style government (the Batasang Pambansa) along with a new constitution written by him. With practically all of his political opponents arrested and in exile, Marcos' pre-emptive declaration of martial law in 1972, and the ratification of his new constitution through political coercion, enabled him to effectively legitimize his government and hold on to power for another 14 years beyond his first two terms as president. In a Cold War context, Marcos retained the support of the United States through Marcos' promise to stamp out communism in the Philippines and by assuring the United States of its continued use of military and naval bases in the Philippines.
Throughout his presidency, Ferdinand Marcos had set up a regime in the Philippines that would give him ultimate power over the military and the national treasury, as well as set up a personality cult. Following his declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972, Marcos immediately began to embezzle money from the government and order the military to kill any political competition against him. As a result, the Philippine economy began to tumble greatly, and the nation lost its competitive edge in Southeast Asia.
He also ordered many stores, hotels, schools, universities, and other public places to place his Presidential picture prominently, or otherwise their facilities were shut down. The media frequently "eulogized" Marcos through public service announcements and news reports. Billboard advertisements across the country were replaced with his propaganda messages on justifying his regime's actions. Marcos also ordered the seizure of various private businesses, placing them either under the government control, or under the control of Marcos' cronies.
Several groups of people, even within the government, conspired throughout the term of the Marcos regime to overthrow him. They were led by the popular public figure, incarcerated opposition senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., who Marcos accused of leaning to a left-wing solution. While gaining popularity amongst the Filipino people for his stance against Marcos, Aquino was eventually forced to seek exile in the United States for health and safety reasons. In 1983, Ninoy Aquino announced his plans to return to the Philippines to challenge the Marcos government.
Within the military, disillusioned junior officers silently conveyed their grievances. This led to the formation of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), Soldier of the Filipino People (SFP), and Young Officers Union (YOU). RAM, which was led by graduates of the Philippine Military Academy Class of '71, Lt. Col. Gringo Honasan, Lt. Col. Victor Batac, and Lt. Col. Eduardo Kapunan, found an ally and mentor in the Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile.
Assassination of Ninoy Aquino
Despite warnings from the military and other pro-Marcos groups, Ninoy Aquino was determined to return to the Philippines. Asked what he thought of the death threats, Ninoy Aquino responded, “The Filipino is worth dying for.”[this quote needs a citation]
On August 21, 1983, after a three-year exile in the United States, Aquino was assassinated as he disembarked from a Taiwanese commercial flight at the Manila International Airport (which was later renamed in Aquino's honor). His assassination shocked and outraged many Filipinos, most of whom had lost confidence in the Marcos administration. The event led to more suspicions about the government, triggering non-cooperation among Filipinos that eventually led to outright civil disobedience. It also shook the Marcos government, which was by then deteriorating due, in part, to Marcos' worsening health and ultimately fatal illness (lupus erythematosus).
The assassination of Ninoy Aquino caused the Philippines economy to deteriorate even further, and the government plunged further into debt. By the end of 1983, the Philippines was bankrupt, and the economy contracted by 6.8%.
In 1984, Marcos appointed a commission, led by Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, to launch an investigation into Aquino's assassination. Despite the commission's conclusions, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, declined an offer to join the commission and rejected the government's views on the assassination. By October, Marcos appointed a second commission to investigate. The commission's final report accused the military of staging a conspiracy to assassinate Aquino, dealing another major blow to the already collapsing government.
Calls for election
On November 3, 1985, after pressure from the US government, Marcos suddenly announced that a snap presidential election would take place the following year, one year ahead of the regular presidential election schedule, to legitimize his control over the country. The snap election was legalized with the passage of Batas Pambansa Blg. 883 (National Law No. 883) by the Marcos-controlled unicameral congress called the Regular Batasang Pambansa.
The growing opposition movement encouraged Ninoy Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, to run for the presidency with Salvador Laurel as running mate for vice-president. Marcos ran for re-election, with Arturo Tolentino as his running mate. The Aquino-Laurel tandem ran under the United Opposition (UNIDO) party, while the Marcos-Tolentino ticket ran under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) party.
The elections were held on February 7, 1986. The official election canvasser, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), declared Marcos the winner. The final tally of the COMELEC had Marcos winning with 10,807,197 votes against Aquino's 9,291,761 votes. On the other hand, the final tally of the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), an accredited poll watcher, had Aquino winning with 7,835,070 votes against Marcos' 7,053,068 points.
This electoral exercise was marred by widespread reports of violence and tampering of election results, culminating in the walkout of 35 COMELEC computer technicians to protest the deliberate manipulation of the official election results to favor Ferdinand Marcos. The walkout was considered as one of the early "sparks" of the People Power Revolution. The walkout also served as an affirmation to allegations of vote-buying, fraud, and tampering of election results by the KBL.
Because of reports of alleged fraud, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) through Cardinal Ricardo Vidal issued a statement condemning the elections. The United States Senate also passed a resolution stating the same condemnation. US president Ronald Reagan issued a statement calling the fraud reports as "disturbing". In response to the protests, COMELEC claimed that Marcos with 53 percent won over Aquino. However, NAMFREL countered that the latter won over Marcos with 52 percent of votes.
On February 15, Marcos was proclaimed by COMELEC and Batasang Pambansa as the winner amidst the controversy. All 50 opposition members of the Parliament walked out in protest. The Filipino people refused to accept the results, asserting that Aquino was the real victor. Both "winners" took their oath of office in two different places, with Aquino gaining greater mass support. Aquino also called for coordinated strikes and mass boycott of the media and businesses owned by Marcos' cronies. As a result, the crony banks, corporations, and media were hit hard, and their shares in the stock market plummeted to record levels.
Cardinal Vidal, after the result of the snap election, issued a declaration in lieu of the Philippine Church hierarchy stating that "a government does not of itself freely correct the evil it has inflicted on the people then it is our serious moral obligation as a people to make it do so." The declaration also asked "every loyal member of the Church, every community of the faithful, to form their judgment about the February 7 polls" and told all the Filipinos, "Now is the time to speak up. Now is the time to repair the wrong. The wrong was systematically organized. So must its correction be. But as in the election itself, that depends fully on the people; on what they are willing and ready to do."
Aborted military coup
Appalled by the bold and apparent election irregularities, the Reform the Armed Forces Movement set into motion a coup attempt against Marcos. The initial plan was for a team to assault Malacañan Palace and arrest Ferdinand Marcos. Other military units would take over key strategic facilities, such as the airport, military bases, TV and radio stations, the GHQAFP in Camp Aguinaldo, and major highway junctions to restrict counteroffensive by Marcos-loyal troops.
Lt. Col. Gregorio Honasan was to lead the team that was going to assault Malacañan Palace.
However, after Marcos learned about the plot, he ordered their leaders' arrest, and presented to the international and local press some of the captured plotters, Maj. Saulito Aromin and Maj. Edgardo Doromal.
Threatened with their impending imprisonment, Enrile and his fellow coup plotters decided to ask for help from then AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Fidel Ramos, who was also the chief of the Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police). Ramos agreed to resign from his position and support the plotters. Enrile also contacted the highly influential Cardinal Archbishop of Manila Jaime Sin for his support.
At about 6:30 p.m. on 22 February, Enrile and Ramos held a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo, where they announced that they had resigned from their positions in Marcos' cabinet and were withdrawing support from his government. Marcos himself later conducted his own news conference calling on Enrile and Ramos to surrender, urging them to "stop this stupidity."
After Cardinal Vidal's condemnation of the snap election's fraudulent result, a message was aired over Radio Veritas at around 9 p.m., Cardinal Sin exhorted Filipinos in the capital to aid rebel leaders by going to the section of EDSA between Camp Crame and Aguinaldo and giving emotional support, food and other supplies. For many this seemed an unwise decision since civilians would not stand a chance against a dispersal by government troops. Many people, especially priests and nuns, still trooped to EDSA.
Radio Veritas played a critical role during the mass uprising. Former University of the Philippines president Francisco Nemenzo stated that: "Without Radio Veritas, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to mobilize millions of people in a matter of hours." Similarly, a certain account in the event said that: "Radio Veritas, in fact, was our umbilical cord to whatever else was going on."
Rising mass support
At dawn, Sunday, government troops arrived to knock down the main transmitter of Radio Veritas, cutting off broadcasts to people in the provinces. The station switched to a standby transmitter with a limited range of broadcast. The station was targeted because it had proven to be a valuable communications tool for the people supporting the rebels, keeping them informed of government troop movements and relaying requests for food, medicine, and supplies.
Still, people came to EDSA until it swelled to hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians. The mood in the street was actually very festive, with many bringing whole families. Performers entertained the crowds, nuns and priests led prayer vigils, and people set up barricades and makeshift sandbags, trees, and vehicles in several places along EDSA and intersecting streets such as Santolan and Ortigas Avenue. Everywhere, people listened to Radio Veritas on their radios. Several groups sang Bayan Ko (My Homeland), which, since 1980, had become a patriotic anthem of the opposition. People frequently flashed the 'LABAN' sign, which is an "L" formed with their thumb and index finger. 'Laban' is the Tagalog word for 'fight', but also the abbreviation of Lakas ng Bayan, Ninoy Aquino's party.
In the mid-afternoon, Radio Veritas relayed reports of Marines massing near the camps in the east and LVT-5 tanks approaching from the north and south. A contingent of Marines with tanks and armored vans, led by Brigadier General Artemio Tadiar, was stopped along Ortigas Avenue, about two kilometers from the camps, by tens of thousands of people. Nuns holding rosaries knelt in front of the tanks and men and women linked arms together to block the troops. Tadiar asked the crowds to make a clearing for them, but they did not budge. In the end, the troops retreated with no shots fired.
By evening, the standby transmitter of Radio Veritas failed. Shortly after midnight, the staff were able to go to another station to begin broadcasting from a secret location under the moniker "Radyo Bandido" (Outlaw Radio, which is now known as DZRJ-AM). June Keithley, with Angelo Castro, Jr., was the radio broadcaster who continued Radio Veritas' program throughout the night and in the remaining days.
More military defections
At dawn on Monday, February 24, the first serious encounter with government troops occurred. Marines marching from Libis, in the east, lobbed tear gas at the demonstrators, who quickly dispersed. Some 3,000 Marines then entered and held the east side of Camp Aguinaldo.
Later, helicopters manned by the 15th Strike Wing of the Philippine Air Force, led by Colonel Antonio Sotelo, were ordered from Sangley Point in Cavite (South of Manila) to head to Camp Crame. Secretly, the squadron had already defected and instead of attacking Camp Crame, landed in it, with the crowds cheering and hugging the pilots and crew members.
A Bell 214 helicopter piloted by Major Deo Cruz of the 205th Helicopter Wing and Sikorsky S-76 gunships piloted by Colonel Charles Hotchkiss of the 20th Air Commando Squadron joined the rebel squadron earlier in the air. The presence of the helicopters boosted the morale of Enrile and Ramos who had been continually encouraging their fellow soldiers to join the opposition movement. In the afternoon, Aquino arrived at the base where Enrile, Ramos, RAM officers and a throng were waiting.
The capture of Channel 4
At around that time, June Keithley received reports that Marcos had left Malacañang Palace and broadcast this to the people at EDSA. The crowd celebrated and even Ramos and Enrile came out from Crame to appear to the crowds. The jubilation was however short-lived as Marcos later appeared on television on the government-controlled Channel 4, (using the foreclosed ABS-CBN facilities, transmitter and compound) declaring that he would not step down. It was thereafter speculated that the false report was a calculated move against Marcos to encourage more defections.
During this broadcast, Channel 4 suddenly went off the air. A contingent of rebels, under Colonel Mariano Santiago, had captured the station. Channel 4 was put back on line shortly after noon, with Orly Punzalan announcing on live television, "Channel 4 is on the air again to serve the people." By this time, the crowds at EDSA had swollen to over a million. (Some estimates placed them at two million.)
This broadcast was considered the "return" of ABS-CBN on air because this was the time when former employees of ABS-CBN were inside the complex after 14 years of closure since Marcos took it over during the Martial Law of 1972. Radio Bandido ended broadcasting that afternoon, while Radio Veritas resumed transmissions, this time from the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center's radio studios.
In the late afternoon, rebel helicopters attacked Villamor Airbase, destroying presidential air assets. Another helicopter went to Malacañang, fired a rocket, and caused minor damage. Later, most of the officers who had graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) defected. The majority of the Armed Forces had already changed sides.
AFP holds fire
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The actual dialogue on TV between Marcos and then AFP Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver went as follows:
Fabian Ver: The Ambush there is aiming to mount there in the top. Very quickly, you must immediately leave to conquer them, immediately, Mr. President.
Ferdinand Marcos: Just wait, come here.
Ver: Please, Your Honor, so we can immediately strike them. We have to immobilize the helicopters that they've got. We have two fighter planes flying now to strike at any time, sir.
Marcos: My order is not to attack. No, no, no! Hold on. My order is not to attack.
Ver: They are massing civilians near our troops and we cannot keep on withdrawing. You asked me to withdraw yesterday-
Marcos (interrupting): Uh yes, but ah... My order is to disperse without shooting them.
Ver: We cannot withdraw all the time...
On the morning of Tuesday, February 25, at around 7 a.m., a minor clash occurred between loyal government troops and the reformists. Snipers stationed atop the government-owned Channel 9 tower, near Channel 4, began shooting at the reformists. Many rebel soldiers surged to the station, and a rebel S-76 helicopter later shot the snipers at the broadcast tower. The troops later left after a V-150 was blocked by the crowd assembled.
Later in the morning, Corazon Aquino was inaugurated as President of the Philippines in a simple ceremony at Club Filipino in Greenhills, about a kilometer from Camp Crame. She was sworn in as President by Senior Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee, and Laurel as Vice-President by Justice Vicente Abad Santos. The Bible on which Aquino swore her oath was held by Aurora Aquino, the mother of Ninoy Aquino. Attending the ceremonies were Ramos, who was then promoted to General, Enrile, and many politicians.
Outside Club Filipino, all the way to EDSA, hundreds of people cheered and celebrated. Bayan Ko (My Country, a popular folk song and the unofficial National Anthem of protest) was sung after Aquino's oath-taking. Many people wore yellow, the color of Aquino's campaign for presidency.
An hour later, Marcos held the inauguration at Malacañang Palace. Loyalist civilians attended the ceremony, shouting "Marcos, Marcos, Marcos pa rin! (Marcos, Marcos, still Marcos!)". On the Palace balcony, Marcos took the Oath of Office, broadcast by IBC-13 and GMA-7. None of the invited foreign dignitaries attended the ceremony, for security reasons. The couple finally emerged on the balcony of the Palace before 3,000 KBL loyalists who were shouting, "Capture the snakes!" Rather tearfully, First Lady Imelda Marcos gave a farewell rendition of the couple's theme song – the 1938 kundiman "Dahil Sa Iyo" (Because of You) – chanting the song's entreaties in Tagalog:
Because of you, I became happy
Loving I shall offer you
If it is true I shall be enslaved by you
All of this because of you.
After the inauguration, the Marcos family and their close associates hurriedly fled the Palace. The broadcast of the event was interrupted as rebel troops successfully captured the other stations.
By this time, hundreds of people had amassed at the barricades along Mendiola, only a hundred meters away from Malacañang. They were prevented from storming the Palace by loyal government troops securing the area. The angry demonstrators were pacified by priests who warned them not to be violent.
At 3:00 p.m. (EST) on Monday, President Marcos phoned United States Senator Paul Laxalt, asking for advice from the White House. Laxalt advised him to "cut and cut clean", to which Marcos expressed his disappointment after a short pause. In the afternoon, Marcos talked to Minister Enrile, asking for safe passage for him, his family, and close allies such as General Ver.
At midnight PHT, the Marcos family boarded a United States Air Force HH-3E Rescue helicopters and flew to Clark Air Base in Angeles City 83 kilometres north of Manila. The deposed First Family and their servants then rode US Air Force DC-9 Medivac and C-141B planes to Andersen Air Force Base in the north of the United States territory of Guam, then flying to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii where Marcos finally arrived on February 26.
When news of the Marcos family's departure reached civilians, many rejoiced and danced in the streets. Over at Mendiola, the demonstrators stormed the Palace, which was closed to ordinary people for around a decade. Despite looting by some angry protesters, the majority wandered about inside through rooms where national history was shaped, looking at objects extravagant and mundane that the Marcos clan and its court had abandoned in their flight.
In other countries, people also rejoiced and congratulated Filipinos they knew. CBS anchorman Bob Simon reported: “We Americans like to think we taught the Filipinos democracy. Well, tonight they are teaching the world.” 
In her speech before the United States Congress which she delivered on September 18, 1986, seven months after assuming the presidency, President Aquino observed that "ours must have been the cheapest revolution ever."
While the Marcoses fled, and the former president died in exile in Hawaii, his wife Imelda later won a seat in the House of Representatives and his son Ferdinand Jr. was elected senator in 2010, and his daughter Imee Marcos was the governor of Ilocos Norte.
The revolution had an effect on democratization movements in such countries as Taiwan and South Korea; other effects include the restoration of the freedom of the press, abolition of repressive laws under a dictator's regime, adoption of a new constitution, and the subordination of the military to civilian rule, despite several coup attempts during the Aquino administration.
The revolution provided for the restoration of democratic institutions after thirteen years of authoritarian rule and these institutions have been used by various groups to challenge the entrenched political families and to strengthen Philippine democracy.
The EDSA Revolution Anniversary is a special public holiday in the Philippines. Since 2010, the holiday has been a special non-working holiday only for schools, and not a regular yearly holiday.
- Epifanio de los Santos Avenue for more information about the road
- Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo
- EDSA Shrine
- People Power Monument
- EDSA II
- EDSA III
- Gdańsk Agreement of 1980 and Round Table Agreement of 1989, both induced by peaceful protests in Poland
- Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
- Romanian Revolution
- Velvet Revolution, in Czechoslovakia
- 8888 Uprising, in Burma (now Myanmar)
- Iranian Revolution
- Tunisian Revolution
- Egyptian Revolution of 2011
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to People Power Revolution.|
- Baron, Cynthia S. and Suazo, Melba M. Nine Letters: The Story of the 1986 Filipino Revolution. Quezon City, Philippines. Gerardo P. Baron Books. 1986.
- Johnson, Brian. The Four Days of Courage: The Untold Story of the People Who Brought Marcos Down. Toronto, Canada. McClelland and Stewart, 1987.
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- Mercado, Paul Sagmayao, and Tatad, Francisco S. People Power: The Philippine Revolution of 1986: An eyewitness history. Manila, Philippines. The James B. Reuter, S.J., Foundation. 1986.
- Schock, Kurt. Unarmed Insurrections: People Power Movements in Nondemocracies. Minneapolis, USA. University of Minnesota Press. 2005.