During these days of popular unrest in many parts of the country in addition to the communal prayers for truth, marches for justice and calls for the resignation of the Malacañang occupant, the Philippine distinct social phenomenon called “People Power” which was identified with EDSA I and EDSA 2 and which has acquired international acclaim, is once again being repeatedly invoked by both contra-administration groups and pro-administration cronies.
While many speak well of it and have good recollection of it, there are those who however discredit it, saying even that it is such a bad social experience that never should ever happen again. These big contrasting views and postures about “People Power” by and large depend on its right or wrong understanding, its proper or inappropriate interpretation. It might be good to offer some thoughts about what is and what is not “People Power”—and what in effect can it be.
WHAT IS IT? “People Power” as the phrase itself already says, is the power of the people—not in terms of guns, goons and gold, nor by virtue of military might or brute force. It is the formidable moral power of the people in countering gross graft and corruption in government, in getting rid of repulsive public authority figures, in driving away revolting amoral leading national public officials. The power of the people aptly demonstrated in EDSA 1 and EDSA 2 was but a living expression of the Filipino people as the really sovereign authority of the country. Neither Malacañang nor its agencies, neither the Armed Forces of the Philippines nor the Philippines National Police—even putting all of them together—is sovereign. It is the Filipino people who are really tops in power and authority in this country.
WHAT IT IS NOT? “People Power” has really no reference to who occupied Malacañang after, what the succeeding chief executive with its chosen allies later did or did not do. It does not include the factor whether the subsequent national leader is very saintly or truly evil, an admirable upright and respectable public official or a corrupt and corrupting government character. Needless to day, it is a big blessing if the consequent government proves to be a socio-moral national asset. Too bad it the same become a big curse to the country. But neither of them are substantively connected with “People Power” as such.
WHAT IT CAN BE? “People Power” can be the sovereignty of the Filipino people demonstrated not purely in the dismissal of a crooked and depraved Chief Executive with its degenerate allies, but also expressed in their deliberate, serious and continuous vigilance on how the latter’s replacement and chosen public officials exercise governance. This sustained, active and commendable continuing expression of “People Power” provides the socio-political assurance that the people truly get and have the government they truly deserve.
25 February 2008