Magazine article The Nation

Philippines Coup Attempt: How Cory Squandered People Power

Magazine article The Nation

Philippines Coup Attempt: How Cory Squandered People Power

Article excerpt

PHILIPPINES COUP ATTEMPT

HOW CORY

SQUANDERED

PEOPLE POWER

The streets of the Philippines came alive in 1989. On May Day nearly 150,000 workers marched through the country's major cities, demanding an increase in the abysmally low minimum wage. More than 100,000 public schoolteachers -- joined at times by up to 400,000 government workers--braved the torrential tropical rains of August in a three-week strike for higher pay.

Yet in early December, when a faction of the Philippine military came perilously close to toppling the government of Corazon Aquino, most people stayed home. While U.S. F-4 Phantom jets roared over Manila to block the coup, the millions of people who carried Aquino into office nearly four years ago made clear their ambivalence toward a government that had promised much and delivered little.

It was not that they sided with the power-hungry coup plotters, most of whom remain at large. The plotters, products of Ferdinand Marcos's grotesquely bloated military, have undoubtedly been emboldened by their near victory in this sixth coup attempt against Aquino. They are likely to strike again. And they might well succeed next time unless Aquino dramatically changes course by rekindling her "people-power" agenda and broadening her increasingly shaky political base.

Aquino's current predicament is at least partially rooted in a glaring error she committed during her first year in power. At a time when she had considerably more popular support than George Bush has today, Aquino responded to early coup attempts with laughable punishments and significant concessions. …

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