COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
So much has been said about Cory being a weak and inefficient president of the republic but looking back to the events that followed after she was installed into power, President Aquino actually laid back the basic democratic processes that we are experiencing now.
No man of national stature could have done what she did. Not our brilliant politicians or our strong military leaders. Not even those opinionated men from the church.
It has to take a woman to do the work of retrieval and reconciliation to put order into the house again. It has to take a woman, not compromised by politics but exposed to its intricacies to ascertain how men work. It has to take a woman, to gather lost sons and daughters, sweep broken pieces of a shattered nation, and sow trust among men again.
Three days after President Aquino took oath of the presidency, she announced that she will “free all political detainees” including the top leaders of the CPP/NPA/NDF. On that day, 39 political prisoners were initially released and several others on the succeeding days thereafter. In the first week of her ascendancy, Pres. Aquino released a total of 517 political prisoners including Jose Maria Sison, CPP chairman and Bernabe Buscayno, NPA commander-in-chief.
The move to free the political detainees was taken with a degree of apprehension by members of the defense department especially Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. That was expected since they were at war with the revolutionaries and having bitten much were afraid of reprisals from the unconditional release of the underground rebels. After releasing the political detainees, Pres. Aquino restored the Writ of Habeas Corpus and repealed the Preventive Detention Action. She further declared the granting of general amnesties to all political offenders of the Marcos regime.
Following those drastic measures acted during a very volatile period in our history, Pres. Aquino dared to call for a ceasefire and start peace negotiations with the armed groups, giving out safe passes to the peace negotiators. By April of 1986 or barely two months after Pres. Aquino’s ascent into power, the government started negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). By June, it held initial talks with Conrado Balweg of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA). By August, it started formal negotiations with representatives of the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Side by side with this gathering act, Pres. Aquino faced the tremendous task of house cleaning by creating the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (PCHR). PCGG undertook the long overhaul of the national treasury while the PCHR accounted for the human rights violations of the previous regime.
Back in the Martial Law years, President Marcos practically reorganized Philippine society, creating new enemies from within; dividing people into warring factions, alienating others, setting aside more others, and redistributing the resources of the land.
After Marcos’ fall and the February Uprising, no smart thinking politician or cynical military leader would have done what Cory did, especially after having lived through that era of fear, distrust, accompanied with political and economic opportunism. It would take an innocent but brave soul to see goodness and hope in a beleaguered land.
What Cory did was an act of faith. She even dismissed several coup attempts as simple tantrums of spoiled sons. She owed no one and bowed to no one and decided on men’s fate with great élan. She merely persevered to keep the nation intact and preserve the Filipino people’s new found freedom. And like an indomitable and unfazed mother, she kept her smile and her prayers.
Indeed, after all the games men played, it took a woman to retrieve.