The pronouncement that February 25 is a working holiday is a clear indication that the significance of the first EDSA People Power Revolution is no longer in the collective consciousness of many Filipinos in recent years.
I cannot blame them. I too feel betrayed by the promise of EDSA.
27 years later the democratic political system of the Philippines is still fragile and flawed. From fascist dictatorship, we now have an elite democracy. Patronage politics hinders the development of democracy and natural resources are now mostly exploited to the point of near depletion.
However, I would like to be optimistic because the idea of Filipinos: rich and poor; young and old, risking their very lives in non-violent protests amidst a flank of tanks still makes my spine tingle, because it shows me how a working democracy should look like: a highway.
Democracy functions as a highway that bridges the ideals of a just and equitable society into an operative venture of participation. It serves as a highway that reminds governments that it should always be of and for the people. It invites us to wake up and assume full responsibility for ourselves our nation and ultimately our world.
For those of us in the environmental movement the passage of landmark environmental legislations like the Philippine clean Air Act (1999), Ecological Waste Management Act (2001), Clean Water Act (2004) and the Renewable Energy Law (2008) are testaments of what can be done if we would all seize the post-EDSA democratic space for public participation and nation building.
Election time is one of those rare occasions where democracy presents to us a clear challenge to act upon our ideals for a better society by casting the ballot on people whom we believe would represent our interests and would enact or implement laws that we believe would benefit our interests. Every vote has equal weight and the freedom of citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties protected by the constitution.
The challenge of EDSA now is for us to build a government that is fully accountable to the public for its decisions and actions. Such a government must be truly democratic and honest, its power diffused among the various communities to whom it owes its existence and from whom it derives its powers.
Remembering the promise of EDSA in light of the coming elections challenges us to make amends for the failings of EDSA, because casting the ballot challenges us into active citizenship which is founded in making informed decisions on who we would be electing into power.
May today’s commemoration of EDSA remind us of the need to once again be active citizens for our planet’s sake.
Together, let us change ourselves, our society, and our world.