1986 EDSA Revolution

The 1986 EDSA Revolution

Was the 1986 EDSA Revolution a coup d’etat?

Coup d’etat is a military takeover of a government. It is unconstitutional, thus it is considered a crime against the state.

I was in 4th year high school then when the 1986 EDSA Revolution happened. It was a weekend of late February, I was watching Discorama hosted by the APO Hiking Society past 6:00 pm, when Jim Paredes announced that there will be a flash report coming in that would change the course of Philippine history.

And man, it really changed the course of Philippine history!

Three Years In The Making

Almost every Filipino would say that the impetus for the 1986 EDSA Revolution was the assassination of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aguino, Jr. on 21 August 1983. Because of his untimely death, people rallied for reforms and for justice.

Cases of disappearances and killing of men or women who were known to be anti-Marcos surfaced.

Snap Elections

So satisfy the call, President Ferdinand Marcos announced an elections which was known as the the 7 Febuary 1986 snap elections. Classes were suspended for almost week because of the crimes and the tension brought about by the election fever.

35 COMELEC employees walked out from the PICC during the canvassing of votes and sought refuge in a Catholic church on 9 February.

Antique Governor Evelio Javier was shot dead on 11 February. His funeral march became a protest rally. Thousands of people had gathered and joined the event to show the government the people’s cry for justice.

Then on 15 February, the Batasan Pambansa, the legislative assembly that time, declared President Ferdinand Marcos as the winner, which of course the opposition did not accept.

So Marcos and Cory Aquino took their oath of office as President of the Republic of the Philippines in two separate locations. The idea of having two presidents was tension-filled kind of crazy that can only be found in the Philippines.

The 1986 EDSA Revolution

So there I was, watching a variety-talk show and then bam! AFP Assistant Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos and National Defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile announced that they withdrew their support of the Marcos administration.

Then all television stations went on live coverage of the “coup d’etat”. Tension rose as one general after another (together with their respective command unit) withdrew their support from the Marcos administration.

It seemed like a long night. Our television and radio were on the whole time. Then events came up one after the other, everything happened too fast — the press conference in Malacanang showing AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Fabian Ver asking permission from President Marcos to bring military troops to Camp Aguinaldo, the call of Cardinal Sin to support non-violence in the street, and the people who started to gather at EDSA (short for Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue), Boni Serrano Avenue, White Plains Road, and Ortigas Avenue.

It was tension-filled, four long days in Philippine history. First because it was the first time that more than a million people from all walks of life gathered at EDSA to support Enrile and Ramos. Second because nobody knew what would happen next as tanks and armed soldiers were there at EDSA waiting for the green light from Malacañang to attack Camp Aguinaldo.

The Aftermath

Relief came when it was announced that Marcos and his family fled to the U.S. People stormed inside the Malacañang palace. You could see the opulence of the Marcoses (the gold-plated fixtures, big bottles of perfumes, unfinished dinner, etc.) and the damage that these people had done on the property.

At that time too, Tito Sotto made a music video, Magkaisa, a song which he composed and interpreted by an unknown singer named Virna Lisa. That became the theme song of that historical event.

While these events were happening, and while we’re advised to stay at home for safety, I was finishing our school assignment: to read Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo. With the socio-political theme of Rizal’s second novel, how was that for comparison and contrast?

There were many coup d’etat plots during Cory Aquino’s administration and all failed. Coup plotters were arrested and charged of rebellion.

But what if Enrile and Ramos failed in 1986? What charges could have been filed against them?

Thirty-three years have passed and here we are: still a Third World country and divided by politics. The country is still plaque with graft and corruption, crime, and dirty politics. We might have gained freedom and democracy but we Filipinos are not yet mature enough to handle that freedom and democracy well. And as the years  pass, the glory and significance of the first People Power start to fade.

Issa Bacsa

Filipino freelance writer and author, Gen X mother to a Gen Z daughter, retrogamer, binge-watcher.