Aquino forces

Finding the Filipino Path

All analysis aside, there was much to be simply thankful for in the recent change of governments in the Philippines. The sight of hundreds of unarmed citizens linking arms to guard their ballot boxes was a reminder of the living ideal behind the oft-tarnished reality of electoral democracy. The picture of thousands of people stopping tanks and artillery with their bodies and their prayers was a rare testimony to the spiritually rooted political power of nonviolence. And Corazon Aquino's personal qualities of integrity and compassion are extremely rare among the world's heads of state.

But the ousting of the Marcos dictatorship was not a simple matter of good vs. evil. Nothing is ever that simple, especially when strategic U.S. military bases are involved. While the decisive role in forcing Marcos out was played by the Filipino people, the United States clearly played an important part in shaping the process of Marcos' removal and did so in a way that safeguarded U.S. influence in the post-Marcos period.

Before Defense Minister Juan Enrile and Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos moved against Marcos, the Aquino forces were anticipating a political struggle of strikes, boycotts, and massive civil disobedience over a period of months that would eventually end the dictatorship. This would have necessarily involved an alliance between the moderate middle-class reformers of the Aquino campaign and the more radical grassroots organizations of workers, peasants, church people, students, and the unemployed grouped in the BAYAN coalition. In fact, Western press reports in the days immediately after the February 7 election indicated that such an alliance was in the making.

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