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Grace Poe, Cory Aquino, and the Failed EDSA Revolution

EDSA demonstrators lock arms in front of a military vehicle hoping to prevent it from moving forward
EDSA demonstrators lock arms in front of an armored vehicle hoping to stop it from moving forward.

hirty years ago, There was euphoria throughout the country, and indeed throughout the world. The Filipino people had kicked out a brutal tyrant and sent him and his entire family packing. And they did this without violence or loss of life. Ferdinand Marcos, a two-bit dictator who thought he and his family owned the Philippines had overplayed his hand and soon found himself inside an American military transport headed for Guam, then Hawaii.

It must be noted that although it was a bloodless revolution, the millions of Filipinos from all walks of life who showed up at EDSA to stand with the rebels were prepared to lay down their lives. For four days they amassed at EDSA, eventually blocking the path of tanks and facing down soldiers carrying M16 assault rifles. If Marcos' Chief-of-Staff and his onetime chauffer Gen. Fabian Ver had his way, troops still loyal to the dictator would have charged the crowd and caused a bloodbath of epic proportions. Thankfully, that did not happen. Nevertheless, for the tens of thousands blocking the path of Ver's military machinery, dying on EDSA during those four tumultuous days was a very real possibility.

Corazon "Cory" Aquino the prime beneficiary of the EDSA revolution became president and ruled the country for six years. By her own admission, she said she knew nothing about running a country having been "just a plain housewife" all her life. She formed a cabinet composed primarily of strident Marcos haters who were equally unqualified like she was. Having almost no government experience under her belt, she followed bad advice or downright wrong advice from those around her and accomplished little or nothing during her term in office. The country suffered from 12-hour brownouts almost on a daily basis, business productivity had ground to a halt. The oligarchy and the forces behind the Marcos regime quietly began reconstituting their power bases and before long, the old order was back at the helm.

When Cory Aquino was sworn in as president on the 25th of February 1986, she was sworn in as the head of a revolutionary government. She had no senate or congress to contend with, and no Supreme Court to tell her what she could and couldn't do. She had absolute power—more power than Marcos ever dreamed he could have. Aquino could have permanently changed Philippine politics and put the country on the right path if she only had the brilliant mind and vast experience of her late husband Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino. Unfortunately for Filipinos, she didn't, and thus accomplished next to nothing during her term as president.

Cory Aquino and Grace Poe.

So what does all this have to do with Grace Poe, you ask? It has everything to do with her. Filipinos might be on the verge of electing another untrained, inexperienced individual for president. Like Aquino, Poe is a charming Filipina, who can disarm the public with her warm smile and humble demeanor. But like Aquino, her glaring inexperience will ultimately be her undoing. The country is currently facing very precarious situations: in the West Philippine Sea versus China; in the Middle East where the low price of oil could force the repatriation of millions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs); and in Metro Manila where overpopulation and heavy traffic are slowly choking businesses and destroying the Filipinos' quality of life. Add to the above an endemic drug problem, numerous rebel and terrorist groups around the country, widespread corruption, global pandemics, and the accelerating pace of technological change, and it becomes very clear that having an inexperienced leader is a very dangerous proposition.

Grace Poe might make a good leader—even a great leader ... someday, but not now. Remember the 12-hour brownouts during the Cory years, her inability to even get to the bottom of who killed her husband Ninoy, her failure to bring about any lasting change, and thus the failure of the EDSA revolution itself; all these should be reason enough not to put another individual with little or no experience in Malacañang. Published 2/26/2016

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