Cory Aquino and the Filipino People
This is being written the day before Cory Aquino is finally laid to rest. Widow of our martyred national hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Cory Aquino was fondly called, was suddenly thrust into her destiny of uniting the Filipino people against the Marcos dictatorship, and succeeded in toppling the dictatorship. She was the only person who could do this, since there were several leaders of the opposition who had not gotten over their personal ambitions. Cory perhaps embodied and represented the Filipino people who were victimized by the Martial Law dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos. Her husband, Ninoy was put in prison for seven years by the dictatorship, and Cory endured the humiliation and suffering inflicted by the repressive regime like the rest of the Filipino people.
When her husband was assassinated, she was called upon by the people to challenge Marcos in the 1985 snap elections but the unpopular dictator used all the machinery of fraud and state terrorism to snatch away Cory’s victory and rob the people of their true choice. Some of us thought that it was useless to challenge the dictator in any election. But Cory believed in the people. Cory summoned the people to recover their sovereignty and their government from the clutches of a corrupt and brutal dictator which had killed, disappeared , tortured and imprisoned tens of thousands of Filipinos.
Cory and the Filipino people triumphed in what is now known as the historic EDSA 1 People Power Revolution of 1986, thus ending the Marcos dictatorship. The EDSA 1 Revolution would soon become an inspiration for the rest of the world in the bloodless transitions to dismantle any form of tyranny restore democratic institutions and the power of the people.
Cory Aquino led the transition from dictatorship to the restoration of constitutional democracy. This was highlighted by the drafting of the 1987 Constitution, a constitution that contained strong provisions on the protection of civil liberties, recognition of people’s organizations and civil society and a government with a system of checks and balance. Yet, Cory’s six year administration (1986 – 1972) as president was still seriously threatened by a segment of the military that believed that only a military junta could effectively govern the country.
The Cory administration was threatened by military adventurists who thought that the EDSA 1 Revolution was their (the military’s) victory, not the people’s, especially when the military eventually shifted their support away from the Marcos dictatorship. They thought Cory was weak because she was a woman, was a mere housewife, and that she was even coddling Communists by releasing all political prisoners including known Communists who fought the dictatorship.
The military adventurists even accused Cory of appointing Communists in her government when she appointed known human rights advocates like Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Jose Diokno, Augusto Sanchez in her cabinet. But Cory proved them all wrong, for she was really deeply a strong woman , tempered by adversity during the Marcos dictatorship. She crushed at nine coup attempts during her administration, and succeeded in consolidating the threatened democracy.
The Filipino people again, rallied to her cause to prevent the restoration of repressive military rule. We in the people’s organizations and social movements may have had differences with Cory on the issues of debt servicing, genuine agrarian reform, and U.S. military bases, but we were always sure that she meant well, was uncorrupted by power, and also supported us in critical issues like the mothballing of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
Together with the rest of the Filipino people, we supported to the very end her valiant defense of democratic institutions against military coup plotters inside and outside her government. We knew that if these people in uniform gained power it would spell the restoration of even a more repressive regime that would not tolerate any form of criticism or opposition.
Though Cory became even more popular by 1992 and could still run for president under the 1987 Constitution, she humbly chose to step down and hand over the reign of power to other Filipino leaders whom she believed were more prepared than her in governing the country. This was Cory.
Cory did not stop being involved in many causes of the Filipino people. As citizen Cory, she took up the causes of the Filipino people like the campaigns against corruption and the illegal threats, again , to extend the rule of ambitious and corrupt politicians.
Cory Aquino now joins the list of heroes and heroines of the Filipino people, etched in their hearts forever. Her spirit and example reminds us that state power is there to be used for good. State power deserves to be held by people who are selfless like her, who do not aspire for state power, and who believe in the power of the Filipino people. And like most Filipinos, Cory believed in the power of prayer.
Thank you, Cory.
* Article by Roland G Simbulan – For a full professional background of Professor Roland G. Simbulan (Click Here)