Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

A specter is haunting Edsa today: the specter of street crimes. Car thieves and bus bombers are causing panic in the metropolis. Traffic and pollution are getting worse everyday. Giant billboards are displayed on every building along the highway. The old folks are asking: where are the trees in Edsa?

The government assures us that peace and order will be restored. In fact it has dispatched the MMDA as its executioner in Edsa. Discipline will be enforced (sa ikauunland ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan). Police patrols will be more visible. State agents will man the buses. Phone SIM cards will be registered.

The networked citizens are cheering. Bravo MMDA for the traffic updates. Bravo MMDA for the CCTV images. Yes to SIM registration; after all we have nothing to hide. We are good citizens of the Republic. Mussolini could be smiling in his grave. After all, Mussolini’s fascist regime was once praised in Italy for making the trains ran on time. Let’s continue the tradition of equating the ruthless but efficient delivery of public services with good politics.

Why did we allow this to happen in Edsa, our Edsa? Just 25 years ago, it was the site of a spectacular uprising of the people against state repression. Its political value was affirmed in 2001 when anti-Erap forces converged there. Its subversiveness was exposed when the pro-Erap plebian crowd used the same space to express their hatred against the elites.

The self-proclaimed guardians of Edsa have since then banned the gathering of suspicious crowds in the highway in order not to repeat what they claim to be the desecration of church properties in Edsa-Ortigas. Desecration my foot! What they really wanted to avoid was the repetition of the political sequence in 1986 and 2001 because the next aspect of that gathering could be a more radical or more genuinely radical event. They fear that if the masses will succeed in Edsa, the hegemony of their rich patrons will weaken. In short, they wanted to preserve Edsa as the site of the last great stand of the intelligentsia and middle forces.

The state is also afraid of Edsa and its radical meaning. And so in the past decade, the MMDA has banned the presence of people in Edsa (Bawal ang tao dito, nakamamatay). Don’t cross the streets, use the footbridge. Don’t walk and march in Edsa – its either jaywalking or illegal assembly. Also, only state and corporate slogans and artworks are permissible in the highway.

Edsa, the site of world-class people power movements, is now off-limits to people. But we don’t complain because this sacrifice is needed to spur progress and better civilization.

The bourgeois state is cunning. It knows that removing the people in Edsa will make state-sanctioned politics the dominant force in the place. There is no People Power (as we know it) without the collective presence of people in Edsa. The ruling party in power feels safe without the threat of People Power haunting the bureaucrats.

And so we must resist. The people must fight back.

The first duty is to remember. The name Edsa orders us not to forget the past. Edsa is historian Epifanio de los Santos, one of the chroniclers of the 1896 Philippine Revolution. Remembering Edsa as a protest landmark is easy since it only refers to the immediate past. Use the memory of radical Edsa to challenge the oppressive present and not to prettify the image of the haciendero president.

The second duty is to question and challenge the dominance of the bourgeoisie in Edsa. They have reterritorialized the space in favor of their class interest. If we allow them complete ownership of Edsa, we will soon lose Commonwealth and C-5. The toiling masses, the real builders of society, are rendered invisible in Edsa. Let the proletariats terrorize the capitalists in Edsa!

How to do it? The third duty involves the restoration of progressive politics in Edsa. There are concrete struggles today: Reject the anti-poor LRT/MRT fare hikes. Defend the San Roque community in North Triangle. Expose and oppose the elements of a police state which are now prevailing in Edsa.

The other alternative (easy but cowardly) is to do nothing. If we choose this option, two kinds of terror will win. The deadly terror inflicted by the anonymous bus bombers and the numbing terror of the state masquerading as public service.

To fight terror, we must bring back politics. Radical politics is needed to defeat terrorism. People Power, not state terror, is the answer to the specter of ‘street crimes’ in Edsa.

Rejecting politics means we are surrendering our right to claim Edsa. If that day comes, Edsa will be in the hands of terrorists, surveillance experts, police/military elements, corporate vultures, and porsche-riding politicians.

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2 Responses to “Reclaim Edsa, the people’s highway”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mong palatino, terrorismwatch. terrorismwatch said: terrorism watch Reclaim Edsa, the people’s highway: A specter is haunting Edsa today: the spe… […]

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  2. Good day, Mong!

    I’m Stephanie Mayo, a regular contributing writer for the quarterly print magazine “Family Matters” (Don Bosco Press) and I am looking for Pinoy parents and nationalistic Filipinos to interview for my article “How To Raise Kids Who Love Their Country.” Hope I can get your valuable answers to some of my questions.

    If interested, kindly let me know and will email you my questions, or send them to you here on Facebook.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Thank you!

    Warm regards!

    Stephanie Mayo

    Stephanie Mayo

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