Philippines Recalls ’86 Revolt with Eye on Middle East



By JIM GOMEZ / AP WRITER Thursday, February 24, 2011

 

MANILA — From the fist-pumping crowds to the anguished dictators, the pro-reform revolts reshaping Arab history resemble the Philippine uprising that booted a strongman 25 years ago. But the similarity ends with the killing of protesters from Tunisia to Libya.

The four-day “people power” revolt a quarter century ago that Filipinos commemorate this week saw multitudes of civilians and rosary-clutching nuns and priests mounting a human barricade against tanks and troops to bring down dictator Ferdinand Marcos with little bloodshed as the world watched in awe.

The democratic triumph has been hailed as a harbinger of change in authoritarian regimes in Asia and beyond. Since then, democratic revolutions have ended autocracies and military rule in South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia in relatively peaceful feats that seemed unimaginable before 1986.

But the Philippines also became a showcase of post-dictatorship pitfalls that revolt leaders say could provide lessons to Arab nations, which will have to grapple with daunting uncertainties once the euphoria wears down.

Aside from democracy, little has changed in this Southeast Asian nation of 94 million. It remains mired in corruption, appalling poverty, rural backwardness, chronic inequality, long-running Marxist and Muslim insurgencies and chaotic politics. A restive military often tries to undermine civilian rule. Continue reading

A Warning for Egyptian Revolutionaries: Courtesy of People Power in the Philippines

[Many have noted some similarities between the “People Power” revolt which removed the Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, and the February 2011 revolt which pushed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak from power.  Some have even proposed that this kind of revolt is the 21st century method of revolution!  But, as this article shows, US strategists have focused on how  this kind of revolt may enable  imperialist interests to shape the forces which emerge in power. As William Robinson has pointed out, “US intervention was decisive in shaping the contours of the anti-Marcos movement and in establishing the terms and conditions under which Philippine social and political struggles would unfold in the post-Marcos period.” — Frontlines ed.]

Monthly Review.org (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/barker150211.html)
by Michael Barker

Much like Mubarak, the former democratic reformer turned long-serving US dictator for the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, demonstrates what can happen to even stalwart defenders of capitalism when they are opposed by their citizens en masse.  Like Mubarak, Marcos previously provided a ray of hope for Western elites intent on quelling popular resistance within their own countries; after President Ronald Reagan launched his “worldwide campaign for democracy” before the British Parliament at Westminster in June 1982, he then decided to visit Marcos in the Philippines “where he announced in a public homage to the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, that ‘the Philippines has been moulded in the image of American democracy.'”  This commitment to ‘democracy’ in the Philippines was not new; the previous year vice president George Bush “raised a toast to Marcos during his visit to Manila, declaring ‘We love your adherence to democratic principle and to the democratic process.'”1

Little wonder that when the US government institutionalized their commitment to democracy, it took the form an Orwellian organization called the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — an organization that was set up by the US government to overtly carry out the ‘democracy promoting’ interventions that had formerly been undertaken covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency.  Since then, the NED has assumed a pivotal position in defusing revolutionary movements all over the world, but their central role in the eventual ouster of Marcos is worth retelling, especially bearing in mind the similarity of his regime of oppression to Mubarak’s.  Thankfully the history of the US government’s ‘democratic’ invention in the Philippines has already been analysed in William I. Robinson’s ground breaking book Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge University Press, 1996); consequently this article merely aims to encapsulate some of his key points. Continue reading