Armed revolution weakened Marcos’ dictatorial regime Prevent Marcoses’ return to power and history revision
As the nation celebrates the anniversary of a peaceful but radical uprising that brought about a regime change in 1986, the fascist troops of Cordillera are patting themselves at the back for what they would of course count as a victory: the recent arrest of a Red fighter who chose to contribute to societal change through a just war.
Batay Gamay, a native of Kalinga, is now being painted as a terrorist instead of a rebel for a legitimate cause. State forces indicted him for criminal charges without recognizing his circumstances as a political prisoner of war. They downplayed the validity of his cause similar to how the ruling classes presently downplays the role of the masses in the success of the peaceful uprising 36 years ago.
Role of the Revolution
One must remember that the People Power Revolution did not happen overnight. It was a culmination of events that weakened the Marcoses’ power and influence, not least of which is the armed struggle waged in the countryside. In the Cordilleras, for example, the i-Kalinga and i-Bontok resisted the Chico Dam project while the Tinggian tribes effectively stopped large-scale logging by the Cellophil Resources Corporation. These campaigns are the national minorities’ own people power uprisings against the dictator and his cronies. And these were all successful due to the ongoing armed struggle in the Cordilleras.
Reviewing issues of Ang Bayan (AB) at that time tells a story of tactical offensives effectively crippling the Marcos regime’s armed forces. The April 1985 issue, for example, reports that the New People’s Army (NPA) amassed 523 firearms in two separate raids. Raiding the Philippine Constabulary in Zamboanga Del Sur yielded around 100 firearms. Meanwhile, the raid in the Visayas Maritime Academy in Bacolod City was done without a single gunfire and yielded 423 high-powered rifles and two short firearms. At that time, it was the biggest number of arms confiscated in one operation.
By June, AB would then print that the NPA has confiscated no less than 740 firearms within three and a half months. Come January 1896, a month before the peaceful uprising, AB compiled data from the NPA’s own newspaper Pulang Bandila and reported that the last quarter of 1985 saw 54 tactical offensives with 194 firearms seized and 221 enemy personnel killed in battle.
Revisions by the Ruling Class
The series of highly successful military offensives by the NPA matched the broadening united front against the Marcos dictatorship. Through street demonstrations and military offensives, the masses declared that they are up to their necks with the Marcoses’ looting and murdering and the one percent had no choice but to eventually abandon the hugely unpopular regime. They, too, would suffer ostracization and consequent inability to wield power had they refused to disassociate from the fallen dictator. It was not because of their own conscience or their sense of justice. It is to their advantage to reecho the people’s cries against dictatorship, blatant corruption and fascism and wait for the emergence of a friendlier faction of the ruling class.
The present elections are already the best example of impermanent but mutually beneficial alliances. So is writing history, in its literal sense. Juan Ponce Enrile, for example, launched his memoir ten years ago where he ‘corrected’ history. It retold the coup he staged, with then vice-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Fidel Ramos, as the catalyst of the People Power Revolution as if the First Quarter Storm did not happen years before he and Ramos jumped ship. He painted himself as another victim of the dictatorship as if he was not a main actor in the staged ambush which was used as pretense to declare Martial Law and as if he was not appointed Defense Minister thereafter.
Most interesting in this narrative is that the Lopezes’ ABS-CBN Publishing itself printed the book even if it was one of the earliest victims of the Martial Law. Marcos did not stop with censuring the freedom for speech and expression but also went on to imprison one of its patriarchs, together with Ninoy Aquino. In the book launch, then president Noynoy was the guest of honor.
The unholy alliances of these strange bedfellows continue. Corazon Aquino named Enrile as her Defense Minister. In 1992, she allowed Imelda Marcos to return to the Philippines supposedly to face the criminal and civil charges. Yet, such objectives are but cheap talk as Imelda remains free up to this day. Ramos himself won the presidency after Aquino’s term. Rodrigo Duterte himself is a staunch Marcos supporter even if his mother is a celebrated anti-Marcos public figure.
Today, the path towards genuine societal change is clearer than ever: armed revolution through protracted people’s war waged in the countryside. The arrested Gamay is but one of the hundreds of revolutionaries who understood and lived that. And though police and military forces might arrest one or two every now and then, many more will replace them in the struggle to establish change that no ruling class can ever revise or erase. Soon, a triumphant national democratic revolution will be told and retold, not by desperate elites, but by the Filipino masses who bled for the realization of their final victory. ###
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