Courtesy: The New York Times on the Web

Click here to link directly to the article on The New York Times. You have to register (free) to access the article.

An article from The New York Times summarises world opinion about People Power II:

Expecting Praise, Filipinos are Criticized for Ouster
by Seth Mydans

MANILA, Feb. 2 � Fifteen years ago, Filipinos braved tanks and threats in a "people power" revolution to bring down a dictator who had stolen an election, and to restore democracy after two decades of martial law.

Last month, in what Filipinos are calling People Power II, huge crowds again forced a president from office. As before, it was an emotional outpouring, with songs and raised fists.

But there were crucial differences that have cast doubt on the dedication of Filipinos to democratic processes, and to their chagrin, Filipinos have drawn not praise but censure from abroad.

The man they overthrew, Joseph Estrada, was a democratically elected president half way through his six-year term. The popular uprising took place when it became clear that due process � his impeachment trial in the Senate � would not produce the result many people hoped for: his removal by constitutional means. The turning point came when the armed forces chief informed Mr. Estrada that the military was "withdrawing its support."

The legal rationale for his removal was a last-minute Supreme Court ruling that "the welfare of the people is the supreme law," in effect stripping Mr. Estrada of any legitimacy.

Filipinos were thrilled at the peaceful ouster of a president who had become an embarrassment � a lazy, hard-drinking womanizer who had allowed the economy to collapse and had, according to testimony in the Senate, engaged in systematic corruption.

But if they expected cheers once again from around the world, they were instead hurt and infuriated when People Power II was met with doubt and criticism, described by foreign commentators as "a defeat for due process," as "mob rule," as "a de facto coup."

It was seen as an elitist backlash against a president who had overwhelmingly been elected by the poor. This time, it appears, "people power" was used not to restore democracy but, momentarily, to supplant it. Filipinos seemed to prefer democracy by fiesta, still shying from the hard work of building institutions and reforming their corrupt political system.

"It is either being called mob rule or mob rule as a cover for a well- planned coup," said William Overholt, a Hong Kong-based political economist with long experience in the Philippines. "But either way, it's not democracy."

The criticism stung. Newspaper columns now are filled with passionate rebuttals. The theme is that the Philippines is unique and should not be judged by the fussy standards of democratic theorists.

"These people simply don't get it," a columnist, Paul Rodrigo, wrote this week in a phrase that encapsulates the counterattack. "My feeling is that these Westerners are holding us to standards that simply do not apply. As a young democracy, we have to do things differently.

"People Power is not a club to be wielded by the elite or by any faction. It is a mysterious, unpredictable outpouring of collective energy that seems to arrive when we most need it. That last sentence will seem like mysticism to most foreigners, but a Filipino will know it is true."

In interviews this week, Philippine officials and commentators elaborated on that view. Democratic institutions in the Philippines are not functioning as they should, they said, requiring periodic course corrections from a vigilant public.

[Click here for the second half of this article on The New York Times on the Web. You have to register (free) to access the article.]

Email me!


Send us

Type In Your Name:

Type In Your E-mail:

Your Friend's E-mail:

Your Comments:

Receive copy: 

People Power II (back)

Click here for your good deed for the day!