Saturday, August 01, 2009

Corazon Cojoangco Aquino Passes Away--Taking the Limelight Off of Philippines President Arroyos Visit to White House

Corazon Cojoangco Aquino Passes Away--Taking the Limelight Off of Philippines President Arroyos Visit to White House

By Kevin Stoda
, Manila

Corazon “Corry” Aquino, icon of the Philippines’ first People Power Revolt in 1986, and the country’s first female President, passed away today.

Meanwhile, Gloria Arroyo, the current female president was in Washington D.C. with a record number of Philippine Senators and larger entourage to improve relations with the USA today and to get more respect for Filipino citizens and efforts on behalf of the USA military forces around the world.

President Arroyo’s administration is fairly unpopular. She is supported by less than 40% of the people, and some observers are worried she might become involved in a coup of sorts to stay in power. Earlier this past month, the president’s office was involved in obvious bribes of governors of various provinces. Human rights records have not improved under her administration.

“On one hand you have a newly elected, young, idealistic, dynamic, US president; a superb orator who just happens to be Black, and who told world leaders during his inaugural address "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history.... On the other hand you have a lame duck Philippine president who has been dogged by one controversy after another since taking office, and who hopes to legitimize herself in the eyes of her constituents and the world by standing side-by-side with President Obama in the White House.”


“While at law school [“Corry” Aquino] met her future husband, Benigno Aquino and married him in 1954. The marriage united two of Tarlac's most prominent families. Aquino's husband belonged to a family whose involvement in politics went as far back as the last century. One year after they were married, Aquino's husband was elected mayor of the city of Concepcion at the age of 22. Her husband was considered one of the Philippines' brightest political hopes.”

Later, “[a]s her husband rose in prominence, he became an outspoken critic of the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos. When Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, Aquino's husband was one of the first persons arrested and put in jail. During the long years of her husband's incarceration from 1972 to 1980, Aquino's role as a quiet wife slowly changed. Becoming her husband's main link to the outside world, she was instrumental in having his statements passed along to the press and to activists outside the prison walls. From inside his cell, Aquino's husband even ran for a seat in Parliament, with his wife conducting a large portion of the campaign.”

Finally, “Ninoy”, as Mr. Aquino was lovingly known by the greater Filipino population, eventually went into exile under the continuing dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. When Ninoy Aquino arrived back in the country after free elections were called in 1984, he was assassinated within 24 hours.

According to all accounts, “[t]he public reacted angrily to the Aquino murder. Rallies and other forms of resistance sprang up in cities and towns all over the Philippines. During the next two and a half years all segments of the population, including the upper and middle classes, joined the struggle to get rid of Marcos. Finally, yielding to pressure from his people (and the U.S.), Marcos called for presidential elections to prove he still had widespread support.”

Soon, “Benigno Aquino's widow Cory, a self-described housewife, ran against Marcos. The election was marked by widespread fraud, with Marcos' thugs beating up election workers and scrambling voter roles. The government declared Marcos the winner.”
After protesting the results of the Marco’s manipulated election before a crowd of 1 million Filipinos in Manila, things quieted down until in February 1986 when “Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Deputy Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos defect from the Marcos government. Enrile and Ramos barricade themselves in the Defense Ministry headquarters in Manila, along with a small group of sympathetic troops. They say they are prepared to die rather than continue supporting the corrupt Marcos regime.”


Then the manifestation of people power took place as never seen before in the Philippines: Here is the basic tale.

-Marcos' soldiers and weapons are met in the streets by tens of thousands of ordinary Filipinos who are surrounding Camp Crame to protect the rebel officers.
-As the tanks start forward into the crowd, people sit down in front of them.
-The tanks stop.
-People offer the soldiers candy and cigarettes, asking them to defect and join the rebellion. Young girls walk among the soldiers, passing out flowers.
-The blocked tanks start forward again. The people sit tight, holding their ground.
-The tanks stop again.
-A Marine commander threatens to start shooting. Priests and nuns kneel before the tanks, praying the Rosary. No shots are fired. Finally the tanks turn around and withdraw as the crowd cheers.

In short, for the 1980s and 1990s a new age had dawned. Similarly peaceful revolts would take place all across Eastern Europe leading to the downfall of autocratic rule in many corners of the planet.

Later, Corry Aquino was formally elected president of the Philippines. “Aquino promised to promote the right to assemble peaceably, and free speech along with prosecuting corruption and abusers of human rights.” She then released over 440 political prisoners.

Her popularity waned and she faced 7 coups in the six years of governance. However, she is much more loved today than ever. The Philippines will mourn her death greatly.


One of the greatest failures of both the Aquino and Arroyo administrations has been the failure to reign in corruption—especially involving their own supporters and family members. The U.S. had left less than a dozen (politically and economically powerful) families controlling the Philippines when its decades-long imperial occupation of the archipelago ended in 1945.

Only President Ramos, Aquinos successor even made a half-hearted attempt to reform the broken system of cronyism among this oligarchy controlling the 7000-plus isles of the Philippines.

An example of the depths of dismay among the Filipino population at the lack of progress against corruption in the country comes from my discussion with a taxi driver yesterday. I had asked the man, “What cars are produced in the Philippines?”
The tax-driver stated, “None.”

Then I enquired, “What companies are producing buses or trucks?”

The reply was, “Only Jeepneys are produced here.”

Jeepneys used to be the undisputed kings of the road in the Philippines—but they are based on a WWII Willey Jeep technology. However, Japanese and foreign built cars and trucks and buses dominate the road now in 2009.

I asked, “Why does a country of 80,000,000 people not produce its own vehicles?”
The driver stated, “Corruption is the reason. No one wants to invest here where so few skim off all of the profits.”

My wife, also of the Philippines, nodded in agreement.

When will the Philippines get justice and less corruption?

Come on PEOPLE POWER!!! Return again and finish the job.



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