Philippine History Part IV – Teleserye. Edsa again – 1998-2004.

Political Chess setIt becomes hard to piece together the big picture of Philippine history from 1998 onward objectively, so I have decided to be subjective and tell it like I see it as of now – like a teleserye.

Everybody is invited to put in their own picture as a comment, their own observations of these times – towards the goal of a broader understanding which is non-partisan but not necessarily neutral.

Erap

Erap or Joseph Estrada became President in 1998. He was very much a man of the people, who inspite of his mestizo origins had exposure to the world of the streets and of the film industry.  His slogan was Erap para sa mahirap – Erap for the poor. His use of Tagalog or Filipino, his living a lifestyle more like that of the masses than of the former ruling class endeared him to many. Exactly some of these ways such as his publicly known mistresses (link) – a breach of the “delicadeza” of the elite – and more work-related, his midnight cabinet (link) made him an enemy of these classes.

On the policy side, he was known for his anti-crime task forces (link) headed by Panfilio Lacson, his favoring the death penalty (link) which was already restored in the time of President Ramos. The all-out war (link) against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as well as the Sipadan kidnappings (link) of the year 2000 also come to mind as important matters during his administration.

There were also scandals such as possible stock market manipulation (link) and charity sweepstakes shares (link). What sunk his administration was the juetenggate scandal (link).

Edsa

This all lead to a dramatic impeachment trial (link) which revealed possible bank accounts under the name “Jose Velarde”. Absurd aspects of the trial which was televised in the Philippines and accessible via Internet come to mind: the maid Delia Rajas whose name was used by someone else at a bank, Senator Miriam Santiago berating someone on the balcony for staring at her, the never solved Dacer-Corbito murder case (link) and finally the suppression of a second envelope (link) with possible evidence and Senator Tessie Aquino-Oreta dancing with joy and singing “no, no, no”.

The anger at the brazen dancing seemed to be the spark that lit a fire, this is what I remember. Text messages played a major role in getting people to come to the EDSA Dos Revolution from 17-20 January 2001 (link) which led to the ouster of Estrada. Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became President. The Supreme Court confirmed it as legitimate with the reasoning that “the welfare of the people is the supreme law”. Some foreign commenters saw EDSA II as a “cover for a well- planned coup” by an “opportunist coalition of church, business elite and left”.

After the arrest of Estrada in April 2001, the so-called EDSA Tres (link) started on 30 April 2001, supported by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Vicente Sotto III, Gringo Honasan, Panfilo Lacson and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Demonstrators tried to storm Malacañan Palace. President Arroyo declared a state of rebellion which was lifted on 7 May 2001.

Gloria

The first thing that disturbed me about President Arroyo was a statement by herself that she, daughter of former President Macapagal, was returning to the place where she grew up – including jokes in some papers that she never grew up, a reference to her stature. The brazen sense of entitlement was suspect to me. But the Philippine general election of 2001 (link) was seem as giving general approval to her administration. Her idea was to “build a strong republic” (link), focusing on “building up a strong bureaucracy, lowering crime rates, increasing tax collection, improving economic growth, and intensifying counter-terrorism efforts”. Yet there were first warning signs like the Oakwood mutiny in 2003 (link) – the first major appearance of then still Lt. Trillanes. Inspite of a cease-fire and peace talks with the MILF (link), there was the Davao airport bombing of 2003 which was attributed to them. This part of the story was to worsen yet still.

Construction of the LRT-2 which started in 1996 finished in Arroyo’s term. The entire LRT-MRT-PNR network in Manila was then called the “Strong Republic Transport System”.

The Philippine population increased from around 75 million to around 85 million from 1998 to 2004. There are many other aspects of this time such as increasing number of OFWs or overseas foreign workers, the nascent BPO or business process industry, and the ever-increasing population of Metro Manila which was turning very modern. The next episode took strange turns.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 25 June 2016

Thanks to Karl Garcia for assisting with sources!

21 thoughts on “Philippine History Part IV – Teleserye. Edsa again – 1998-2004.

  1. Juteng never stoppped.
    self styled self confessed bagman Sandra cam is niw the leader of the whistle blowers.

    Mike Arroyo was the target of the senate investigations led by Lacson.

    they tried alternatives to jueteng like small town lottery which is said to be run by the same jueteng lords.

  2. Some insights on the Estrada administration from an Australian defense contractor in this link, also a bit on GMA :

    “I had warned the Salteris and their senior executives on many occasions, in person and in writing, that with Estrada becoming president things would change, the old Marcos days of kickbacks would return,” Peel told The Saturday Age (Peel is in a legal dispute with Tenix).
    ”I knew Estrada well. I was close to the people at the forefront of his political campaign. I knew about the kickbacks they had received from other parties to push through contracts once Estrada took over from Ramos.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/tenix-out-of-its-depth-and-all-at-sea-20120928-26qs8.html#ixzz4Cor943MY
    Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

  3. Some additional insight on the Estrada administration from an Australian defense contractor here, also a bit on GMA :

    ” I had warned the Salteris and their senior executives on many occasions, in person and in writing, that with Estrada becoming president things would change, the old Marcos days of kickbacks would return,” Peel told The Saturday Age (Peel is in a legal dispute with Tenix).
    ”I knew Estrada well. I was close to the people at the forefront of his political campaign. I knew about the kickbacks they had received from other parties to push through contracts once Estrada took over from Ramos.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/tenix-out-of-its-depth-and-all-at-sea-20120928-26qs8.html#ixzz4Cor943MY
    Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook

  4. I cannot blame Irineo for not having objective take on Philippine telesyere history because our source of history is muddled by twisted newsreport from Filipino journalists.

    To this day, Filipino still beleive there was a revolution in EDSA that ousted Ferdinand Marcos. There was no revolution. The Filipnios were there to osyoso and witness the squabbles between the despot Ferdinand Marcos and the supporters of his regime Honasan-Ramos-Enrile.

    The Filipnos cannot really know what what happened to this day The U.S. is not releasing information for national security reason.

    • We have more witness accounts than evidence, unfortunately, so we have to piece together the picture ourselves as well as we can.

      The USA during the 1980s was turning away from the old “our SOB” policy – witness Noriega. What is documented is that Marcos was told “cut, and cut cleanly, your time is up” by an important American, and he answered “I am very, very disappointed” – this points to him being dropped from American sponsorship.

      There are writers who have mentioned that Filipinos had their own cultural expectations of American colonizers, later allies, based on the old patronage system. Joe America would call it subservience upwards in order to exercise power downwards. Utang na loob and all of that, sipsip and kapit.

  5. And so we will have another go at a shallow minded, wise-cracking, macho, thin-skinned, utak-pulvura, philandering twin of another president gone but better forgotten. Have we not learned anything yet? Sorry if I sound too pessimistic.

    • That is a good question. Well at least Duterte finished college, unlike Estrada. But there are indeed similarities – while Estrada was San Juan mayor under Marcos, Duterte was appointed later and stayed Mayor under several administrations and hobnobbed with both Arroyo and still-President Aquino.

      What annoys me a bit is that there was no issue with his stuff while he still supported the present admin – only when he became a serious Presidential contender. Yes there was Leila de Lima and the CHR, but Mar Roxas saw Duterte as a friend inspite of everything. The typical gray areas of Philippine politics I think.

  6. While projecting hmself as the candidate of the masa, Erap also won the support of many in the middle classes in that 1998 presidential election because of the largely Ateneo educated movers and shakers that managed his campaign. I know a number of people who thought that if these well-educated men and women saw something worth supporting in the guy, then he must be alright after all. If I remember right, he even had a list of names of prominent and credible personalities who were all set to form part of his Cabinet if elected. That Ramos was leaving behind a fairly well managed economy also worked in his favor, it made people confident that all that was needed was for the next President to simply continue through the programs of his predecessor. Naively they thought there is no other way for the country but to go further up. Of course we know how that turned out in the end.

    • cha, thanks for filling in on that. What I also remember is Vicara’s comment in Joe America’s blog on how chaotic Erap’s cabinet was.

      But I also heard of chaos in Cory’s cabinet – seems it is hard to manage the backstabbing, opportunistic bunch that Filipino politicians I think can be.

  7. Gloria was swore in last 2001 without the need of elections.
    The elections were in 2004.
    Lots of drama there,Hello Garci,the demise of FPJ,etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *