EDSA-3 (2):  Why the system is not working?




“A nation without answers to its domestic needs has no security.”

What do prosperous Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Taiwan share in common in their recent history of national development?  They all have experienced long periods of sustained economic growth and uninterrupted political stability since the 1970s.  In the Philippines, martial law was imposed in 1972 for all the wrong reasons, purposes and intents.  And we have allowed it to endure for 16 long years, wasting time and resources that could have otherwise gone to the development of this country and its people.

Based on the experience of our wealthy neighbors, it would require about 20 years of sustained economic growth and political stability for the Philippines to get out of the rot.  But  this will not happen anytime soon because our current system of electing a new president every six years prevents us from having an extended period of political stability and leadership necessary for sustaining long overdue reforms on many fronts.  Our electoral process of choosing a president by direct “popular vote” (read: popularity contest), too, will not produce a Lee Kuan Yew, or a Mahathir bin Mohamad, or a Park Chung-hee, or a Chang Kai Shek.

Some people have suggested that we amend the Constitution and shift to parliamentary system where a good government can be returned to power repeatedly and successively.  Assuming that it can be done at all, our well-entrenched politicians will simply change title from Congressman or Senator to MP (member of parliament).  And we will be right back where we started. 

A solution to this problem is to enact and enforce electoral reform laws that will “level the playing field” for all candidates and at the same time enable the constitutional prohibition against political dynasties (Section 26, Article II of the Constitution).  But again, it is foolhardy to expect our well-entrenched politicians to enact into law the “demise” of their families and clans as political entities. 

Enough drift has characterized our national affairs in the past 25 years since EDSA-1.  Those who did not experience EDSA are understandably impatient at the gap between promise and performance.  The national leadership has given the people nothing but promises, promises.   

Today’s youth have grown indiffferent to social issues and don’t feel that working in the Philippines will get them a living wage.  And so the most popular fields in Philippine schools are nursing, maritime courses, physical therapy and caregiver, in addition to IT-related courses which can land one a job about anywhere abroad.  We are losing the future of this country to the developed countries faster than we could raise and educate our young.

Where is this country headed for?  Nowhere, if we don’t go there. 

The next time we troop back to EDSA, it must be with a clear understanding that the current system will not work, and with a sense of purpose and urgency to settle, once and for all, the persistent question of underdevelopment and widespread poverty that has benumbed our sense of dignity and self esteem as a people.

Having failed to resolve the question in our two previous attempts at EDSA, nothing short of a genuine revolutionary system and mode of governance will bring about the change we all long for — if we have learned our lessons well.

Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published 22 May 2011



Some famous revolutions in history 

The 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines, also known as the EDSA Revolution, refers to a four-day series of non-violent mass demonstrations that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and installed the government of democracy icon Corazon Aquino. 





The French Revolution (1789-1799), refers to a period of radical social and political upheaval in France, beginning with the Storming of the Bastille (a medieval fortress and prison in Paris) and culminating with the collapse of the absolute monarchy which France had been suffering under for so long. 





The American Revolution (1775-1783), also known as the American War of Independence, refers to a period in American history in which thirteen British colonies in North America waged a successful secessionist war against the Kingdom of Great Britain and formed what is now called the United States of America.





The Russian Revolution (1917-1923), also known as the October Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin, refers to a series of revolutions in Russia which toppled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the first communist country in the world.





The Chinese Communist Revolution (1949), refers to the victory of the Chinese Communist Party (led by Mao Tse Tung , or Mao Zedung) in the final stage of the Chinese Civil War, which led to the establishment of a Chinese communist state.





The Vietnamese Revolution (1945-1976), refers to a series of events leading to the eventual unification of North and South Vietnam in 1976:  the 1945 declaration of independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam by Ho Chi Minh, the defeat of the occupying French colonial forces at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, and the Fall of Saigon and withdrawal of American forces in 1976.





The Gran Colombian (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama) Revolution (1813-1825), led by Simon Bolivar, also known as the Liberator of Latin America from Spanish colonial rule





The Cuban Revolution (1959), led by Fidel Castro (far left of photo) and Che Guevarra (center), refers to the successful armed revolt which overthrew the dictator Fulgencio Batista and established a communist state in Cuba.





The Iranian Revolution (1979), also known as the Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, refers to a series of events that led to the overthrow of Iran’s monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the establishment of an Islamic Republic in Iran.





The “Iron Curtain” Revolutions (1989), also known as the Fall of Communism, refers to a wave of revolutions that overthrew the communist regimes in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.





The South African Revolution (1994), refers to the democratic changes that took place in South Africa when power was transfered from the repressive Apartheid regime to the democratically elected African National Congress (ANC) led by Nelson Mandela.





The “Arab Spring” Revolutions (2010- ), also known as the Arab Revolt, refers to a wave of revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt; civil war in Libya; and civil uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.