Ral l i es not just about num­ber

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

PROTEST ac­tions were once again held na­tion­wide yes­ter­day, Boni­fa­cio Day (Nov. 30), by those con­demn­ing the burial of the for­mer dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos at the Libin­gan ng mga Bayani. I wrote this ar­ti­cle early in the af­ter­noon so I don’t know how suc­cess­ful the event was. But that doesn’t mat­ter. That the street marches and ral­lies were held is al­ready a suc­cess in it­self. Th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties show the spirit of the 1986 Edsa peo­ple power up­ris­ing is still with us.

Th­ese protest ac­tions have their roots in the cam­paign for the May polls when it be­came ap­par­ent that the ef­fort by the Mar­coses to re­vise the nar­ra­tive of Mar­cos’s mis­rule was seen to have gained ground with the rise in the sur­veys of then vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Fer­di­nand “Bong­bong” Mar­cos Jr. “Never again!” soon be­came the ral­ly­ing cry es­pe­cially in so­cial me­dia. Con­cerned in­di­vid­u­als then put up web­sites and formed groups ad­vanc­ing the cry.

Mar­cos al­most won the vice pres­i­dency, los­ing by just a hair­line to now Vice Pres­i­dent Leni Ro­bredo. But for­mer mayor Ro­drigo Duterte, who cam­paigned on the prom­ise of al­low­ing the burial of the for­mer dic­ta­tor’s re­mains at the Libin­gan, won. He made good his vow early in his pres­i­dency, or­der­ing the mil­i­tary, which runs the Libin­gan, to pre­pare for the burial.

That prompted the op­posers to go to the Supreme Court, which even­tu­ally ruled that no law was vi­o­lated by the Pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion. As a re­sult, big­ger protest ac­tions were planned na­tion­wide to pres­sure the Supreme Court and Duterte to scut­tle the burial. But even be­fore those protest ac­tions could ma­te­ri­al­ize, the Mar­coses, like a “thief in the night” went ahead with it. Spon­ta­neous protest ac­tions erupted.

That also saw the birth of a new anti-Mar­cos move­ment decades after the first one tri­umphed with the ouster of the Mar­coses from Malacañang. What should be in­spir­ing in this move­ment is that mil­len­ni­als who were not born yet when the Mar­coses ruled the land are go­ing out in the streets and link­ing up with the “Old Guards.” A new nar­ra­tive of strug­gle is be­ing writ­ten as the Mar­coses and their sup­port­ers and fans at­tempt to re­vise the coun­try’s his­tory.

Now, crit­ics are down­play­ing the rise of the move­ment and the launch­ing of the protest ac­tions. Most of them are play­ing the num­bers game.

First, there is this say­ing that “a jour­ney of a thou­sand miles be­gins with a sin­gle step.” In the late seven­ties and early ‘80s, only a few dar­ing souls in Cebu joined the ral­lies against the Mar­cos dic­ta­tor­ship. That didn’t mean the protesters ad­vanced the wrong cause or that their cause lacked pop­u­lar sup­port. It was just that the many were ei­ther afraid or were not yet awak­ened. Those street marches and demon­stra­tions would grow in the mid-’80s.

Se­cond, it would be wrong to con­sider the peo­ple as one ho­mo­ge­neous mix con­sid­er­ing that their lev­els of so­cial aware­ness dif­fers. They can be clas­si­fied as the few ad­vanced, the not-so-few mid­dle and the big­ger back­ward el­e­ments. In most protest ac­tions, the few with the high­est level of so­cial aware­ness con­sti­tute their back­bone. But that is not static be­cause as the so­cial aware­ness of more peo­ple rise, so too the num­ber of protesters.

Third is the rule: ev­ery ac­tion sparks an equal and op­po­site re­ac­tion. Edsa 1 was gen­er­ally seen as the peo­ple’s re­ac­tion to the as­sas­si­na­tion of for­mer sen­a­tor Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983. In the cur­rent protest ac­tions, the burial of Mar­cos at the Libin­gan is the trig­ger. An­other is­sue or con­tro­versy in the fu­ture could spark a big­ger par­tic­i­pa­tion in protest ac­tions.

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