It All Started with EDSA

edsa 30 govPhoto from gov.ph

The week is fresh with commemorations and discussions of the EDSA 30, with the government going all out in celebrating three decades of its democratic spirit. And while everyone seems abuzz with the prospect of another Marcos sitting at one of the highest offices in the country (for better or for worse, we’ll eventually know), it is worth noting that many other presidential and vice-presidential candidates started their political careers or gained more prominence in politics during and after EDSA 1986.

Let’s take a look at where they were during that fateful time:

1. Jojo Binay and Digong Duterte started their careers in elective offices after the EDSA Revolution, at the behest of the late President Cory Aquino.

What do Binay and Duterte have in common? Aside from the common claim that the respective cities they rule or have ruled in the past are drug-free (a major point of contention during the first PiliPinas Debate), both started their local government careers when they were appointed officers-in-charge in the aftermath of the EDSA Revolution. Binay was appointed officer-in-charge (OIC) of Makati City, and Duterte was appointed OIC of Davao City. Both went to establish long careers as local government leaders, having served or serving for about twenty years. In fact, they are both banking on these experiences as major “selling points” in their bid for the presidency.

2. Mar Roxas was an investment banker in New York City when Marcos called for a snap election, and he decided to help Cory Aquino in her campaign.

It can be said that Mar Roxas was true to the political party his grandfather co-established from the outset. While we cannot know whether he was already desiring to run for office during the time of 1986 snap election, he was becoming active in politics as he took a leave of absence from his work as an investment banker in New York City to help Cory Aquino in her campaign. Aquino was the standard bearer of the United Opposition, a coalition of anti-Marcos political forces that includes the Liberal Party (Roxas’s party today). It would still be a few years before Mar Roxas would run for his first elective position, but he frequented and finally settled back to the Philippines after the EDSA Revolution.

3. Miriam Santiago was relatively prominent during Martial Law, but her first appointment with the executive department happened after the EDSA Revolution.

Miriam Santiago was, arguably, already prominent before EDSA 1986. She was appointed as regional trial court judge by former President Ferdinand Marcos and was intrepid enough to defy Martial Law for the sake of activist students.

Two years after Cory Aquino came into power, Santiago was appointed as commissioner of immigration and deportation. She was later on appointed as secretary of the agrarian reform department before she resigned from such post and ran for the first time for president in 1992.

4. And let us not forget Gringo Honasan, who rose to prominence as member of the RAM at the outset of People Power.

As the political environment in the country during the years 1985-1986 was reaching a boiling point, Honasan, together with the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) plotted a coup attempt to seize power from Marcos. After the snap elections of 1986, this inevitably changed as the then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and then Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel V. Ramos openly defected from the government. Honasan was eventually assigned to lead an assault in the Malacañang Palace in the morning of February 23, a plot which was eventually uncovered. He and the RAM were forced to make a last stand at Camp Aguinaldo, with the support of civilians.


Julius Ryan Umali is an alumnus of the University of the Philippines Diliman