Many see it as a big letdown. There are even some who think the 1986 People Power Revolution should have been a bloody upheaval because “oligarchs would have been wiped out, or the horror of a bloody revolution would have been such a catharsis that would force serious nation-building.
Expecting the peaceful EDSA revolution would usher in positive change in Philippine society and government leadership to bring about significant developments like those achieved by the bloody revolution in Russia or France, many Filipinos have become disillusioned.
Grinding poverty, rampant corruption, drug addiction, mediocre governance, flawed criminal justice system, abuse of authority especially of law enforcers, sheer incompetence of some government agencies particularly those involved in public transport or even renewal of passports, and other woes are much around.
Economic growth has failed to bring about inclusive growth with about 12.18 million Filipinos so poor they could not eat three square meals a day nor afford any of the other bare necessities in life, according to a report of the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2016. In that same year came news that while 12 million of our kababayans were so dirt poor they could barely eat, 11 of the richest Filipinos have joined Forbes magazine’s roster of the wealthiest people on the planet.
As millions were mired in debilitating misery and literally wasting away from hunger, the Philippines’ robust economy further increased the wealth of the filthy rich wallowing in luxury. In 2016, the wealthiest Filipinos belonging to the richest families here had a combined wealth of $76.6 billion or about P3.62 trillion – bigger than the entire 2016 national budget.
To be fair, let me say that huge sums have indeed been donated by the rich for education, public health, housing, and many other social programs to uplift the lives of impoverished Filipinos. But the efforts are obviously not enough. Making economic progress truly inclusive has been elusive.
Even Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, showed dismay over trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably bring about social inclusiveness in the world.
“The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger; nothing ever comes out for the poor,” the Pope said.
It is clear that government and the richest private sectors of society must join forces for more effective poverty alleviation measures, instead of just waiting for the “trickle-down” effect of economic progress that may take generations to happen or may not happen at all.
While the rising tide of economic prosperity is supposed to lift all boats, the continuing paradox is that many Filipinos remain wallowing in misery beneath the sea of poverty. Should the ruling elite be faulted for this? Many think so. With the continuing grip on the country’s economy of big landlords, capitalists, political dynasties, and others comprising the ruling elite, they believe that what transpired in 1986 was merely “changing of the guards with a different faction of the ruling classes taking power by riding on the wave of the anti-dictatorship movement.”
Indeed, many are tempted to ask: Would it be better if 1986 was so bloody? Would a better nation emerge from the horrific violence with hundreds of thousands of lives lost like in the US Civil War? Would corruption be finally eradicated if millions die, if only innocent minds or those below ten years old survive a bloody upheaval? And then leave it up to a UN body to guide the young and idealistic survivors to forge a new and better Philippines?