A Case Study Sample on the History of the Philippines
Media and Democratization
A National Case
Only recently, on August 21, when
the Philippines celebrated the 25th death anniversary of the most
promising statesman and considered to be the modern hero of the Filipino people
– . known as
The history of the Philippines is
rich in political and cultural ideas. In this manner, let us extricate one
important historical event in their long history. But first, let us go back to
the historical death of . It was indeed the beginning of the new era of the
Philippine democratic society when someone serving the regime murdered the
statesman. Even failed to see how his people deposed the ‘Frankenstein’
dictator from his post; he indeed was successful in bringing a new order to his
beloved country. His death opened the eyes of many Filipinos about the
oppression and cruelty of the regime and eventually inspired them to unite their
power in the historical landmark along EDSA highway.
It was in EDSA when the historical
event took place—the unforgettable People Power Revolution. This event became an
inspiration for other countries. One classic example was the massive revolt of
people in Berlin to destroy the Bastille Wall that divides Germany from other
parts of it. This act of revolution was an archetype of what democracy is all
about. The democratization process involves a great collective power of people
to bring down the undemocratic well being of a leader. Obviously, leaders who
seek to monopolize power embrace a Machiavellian attitude which leads to a
totalitarian rule of governance. In this case, Marcos was able to maintain his
constitutional power for almost 20 years; however, it was because of his greed
that he suffered indictment and persecution from the people.
Significant to this historical event
is the role of media in uplifting the democratic ideals of the Philippine
society. In this paper I will deliver the important role of media and its
relation to democratization using a national case which I choose to be the
Philippines in its struggle to bring back the democratic power to the people
instead of letting this power concentrated to a specific leader. Moreover, I
will use two large historical events about Filipinos political struggle and on
how media play a vital role to preserve and maintain the long-time democratic
system. The power of people supplemented by the media power simultaneously
assumed the role as a catalyst for change. Here, People Power 1 and 2 known as
EDSA 1 and 2 will be under my analysis.
The two historical people power were
not at the same footing in terms of its ideology, political struggle and causes
of uprising. However, in both cases, media play a crucial role in maintaining
the country’s democracy against the political greed of its leaders.
Philippines: The Revolt against undemocratic
The historical significance of People Power 1 and 2 was brought about by
at least three important elements which serve as the main actors in the success
of toppling down the authoritarian regime of and corruption of Estrada,
namely: people, history, and media.
Tracing the lines of its historical backdrop, after given the freedom by
America, the Philippines now became self-sufficient. They were given the rights
to establish its own republic, formulate its own laws and constitution and given
the freedom to do whatever they wanted for the common good.
In any democratic society, any leaders appointed
to administer the country are under the process of suffrage. People are given
the rights to vote and select whom they think are capable leaders. Ideologically
speaking, the right to vote is tantamount to surrendering one’s political power
over the one you voted to be in the position. Yet, we come to think that the
seat of power is the people and not the one being voted by the majority. Hence,
in democratic society, the power is on the people and not on their leaders. The
elected leaders are just people’s representatives in which are given the
privilege to use their power in order to lead and direct them in ways which they
think is good and in progressive paths.
Now, let us bring this in the context of People
Power in relation to media and democratization process.
It is understandably called people power for the
obvious reason—people’s collective power. However, the collectivity and unity of
people in both People Power 1 and 2 were not successfully ousted their corrupt
leaders without the mobilization of certain political and religious leaders that
stand to be in the forefront trying to gather people within a certain realm of
space and time. The voluntary surrendering of power by the people should be
concentrated in a certain designated realm of space and time in which could
capably destroy the power held by those corrupt leaders. It was amazing to see
the overflowing of power in the designated locus of expression, the so called a
new ‘biak-na-bato’- the Edsa. This landmark symbolizes people struggle for
democracy and peace.
The Edsa shrine serves to be the locus of public
domain wherein Filipinos came to rescue the sinking democratic system. Although,
the mass movement was not yet the trend of that time, in fact, the first that
happened in a democratic country, people outside the cloak of political turmoil
heralded Filipinos for their unity and solidarity in battling the oppressive
regime, more so, to stop the anarchistic order of the society.
The political atmosphere in the
first revolution was not the same as the second revolution. The political
gathering of different political parties, business sectors, elites and the
masses in the Edsa shrine was the climactic moment of people’s suppressed
political sentiments, asking for justice to those who suffered from political
oppression, killings, and murders that culminated in the sudden death of in the
tarmac of today’s International Airport. People clamoring for justice and
striving to preserve the freedom inherited from the generosity of the Americans,
brought a downfall in the era. Despite the differences in beliefs and political
principles uphold by various political entities, various civic and religious
leaders of the society, and people in all walks of life, yet they still come
together, crossing each other’s arms serving as a shield against the military
armor tanks and high caliber of armaments carried by military.
Meanwhile, the second revolution was
absolutely different in the context of its causality. It was not because of the
tyranny and undemocratic behavior of a leader but it was about a moral integrity
in which Filipinos wanted to preserve for the future generation. The issue was
deemed towards the corrupt practices of allegedly pronounced by
whistler-blowers and was eventually brought to court. However, the prohibition
of opening the twelfth enveloped implicitly signaled another political uprising
at the same venue of the previous revolution. The second revolution was not due
to the tyrannical mobilization and administration of former president Estrada,
but rather a question of his ability to rule the country despite of his
tarnished moral integrity.
Although the people power movement is unique in a way that it disproves
the theoretical construct of revolution which political theorists and
philosophers believed as violent and radical. Yet, the people power revolution
when tracing its historical background; we can infer that it was in fact a
positive result of a conglomeration of different understanding, values and
principles about revolution of the previous revolutionary history that
culminates in adhering to a non-violent, bloodless and peaceful revolution.
When we dig deeper into the cognizance of the
cultural and historical consciousness of their society, we can see the
development of Filipino’s consciousness towards revolution. The historical
civilization of the Filipino people is at large a struggle for independence and
freedom. More of its historical accounts tell us about the constant revolution
and revolutionary struggles of Filipinos to gain a distinct and unique identity
from the identity which the Spanish people insisted to inculcate and integrate.
While the culture of Filipinos is somehow distorted due to the various
influences injected by various colonizers, we could even still warrant them of
their distinct culture which made them successful in toppling down an undeserved
As what I had said in the previous
discussion, prior to a non-violent revolution, the Philippines with its
inhabitants were constantly struggling for a revolutionary change of their
system. From the friars monopoly of education, religion, lands, production and
goods, to Japanese occupation and later on by the Americans, with the
long-running oligarchic system espoused by the Spaniards, the brutality of
Japanese and the Americans’ hidden political agenda, Filipinos did not disturbed
to constantly wage a revolution. They have the great reformist, a national
hero, , the counterpart of a propagandist, revolutionist and reactionary
publican, , the brain of the Katipunan, a champion constitutionalist, , a
revolutionary turned republican first president of the Philippines, and, the
modern hero and allot more.
There revolutions sparked complex
effects to the consciousness of every Filipinos and that became elemental in the
newly established kind of revolution which other countries tried to pattern
The Media and Democracy
In any democratic society there is some kind of differences on how to
practice democratic system. Joseph Chan underlined the notion of ‘multiple
democracies’ visible in various democratic countries. He further argues, “In
reality, all democracies are historical and contextualized. They may differ in
terms of institutional arrangement, election mechanisms, political culture and
other traits (2001: 2).” This argument is properly situated in the context of
the Philippine’s democratic style of governance. Although, Americans are the one
who introduced the kind of leadership and political system, it does not mean
that Philippines have the likeness of democracy with the United States. It is
rather a kind of democracy that is culturally and historically Filipino.
Clearly, Chan underlines these differences by bringing in the light the
comparison of American democracy with other countries like Asia. Unlike the
American democracy which emphasizes on the individual rights, political
antagonism, self-interest and uncommon judicial review system, other countries
like Philippines, Korea, Taiwan, India, Nigeria and etc. “there political
outlook puts greater value on the harmony between the citizen and the state,
one-party leadership, the priority of public interest over citizen’s rights and
the power of the state to make laws it deems necessary (2001:2).” Fair enough,
the Philippines have that kind of democracy in which puts greater interest on
the development and progress of the public instead of an individual. Yet,
Philippine democracy although, people enjoy the benefits from it, is
dysfunctional and somehow fragile. C believed that Philippines democracy remains
problematic and fragile. Fraud, violence, and patronage still pervade Philippine
elections rendering the quality of democratic representation dubious in many
instances. In addition, “state institutions remain weak, unaccountable and
resistant to reform (
But, despite of this weaknesses and
criticisms against the Philippines democratic system, it can be argued that this
dysfunctional system became an instrument for a grand reform on the political
state during the regime and administration that halted a long
Under this line of thought, media in
any democratic society assume a significant role. Media is considered to be a
watchdog of the state as it assumes the responsibility of being a 4th
estate in any democratic society. This function is premised on the idea that
people should have an access to information, in order to form intelligible
opinions on various societal issues. In the Philippine context, under the
totalitarian regime of Marcos, media that time had a restricted space and
freedom in exercising their role to report necessary public issues. Hence, there
was limited media coverage. Marcos’ regime suppressed the freedom of the press
by disallowing and paralyzing the media operations of anti-Marcos media outfits.
The media institutions which actively operating that time was those of the
government owned media outfits. One classical example on this was during the
time of burial wherein millions of Filipinos gathered to sympathize with
his family. Yet, print, radio and television media was under control by the
Marcos cronies and in order to prevent people’s uprising they control the
publication of texts and pictures that would force people to revolt. There is no
aerial shot estimating how many people attended the burial, it should not be put
on headlines, and no crowd estimate. This is in order to avoid mass movement
coming from the grassroots and powerful few.
However, even though media had a
limited democratic space at that time, the government did not totally control
the media operations. Significant to the resistance of media actors was the
historical people power revolution in which through a religious radio station,
Radyo Veritas, people got a wide access to the political upheavals happening in
the metropolitan Manila. Through the late the Archbishop of Manila at that
time, with his vocal political antagonism against Marcos bravely called the
people through Radyo Veritas to gather in Edsa for a prayer rally that
eventually turned out to be a political mass movement that lasted for three
On the other hand, in the people
power 2, media had a more democratic space and freedom in reportage and
investigation. In fact, the historical impeachment case of Estrada was freely
accessible to media and fed it live for the public viewing. The televised court
hearing held in the senate was indeed fostered another bloodless revolution that
led to downfall. This happened during the time when majority of the
senators acted as judges of the court voted not to disclose the content of the
12th envelope. Again, due to media mileage, people were no longer
unaware of the political turmoil happening in Manila unlike in the 1986
revolution. The re-gathering of people in the same historical landmark in Edsa
was not much difficult unlike the time of wherein the access on media
became rough and difficult. During the time of Estrada, media serve as political
watchdog informing people of the current political events.
From the beginning of the predictable scenario
in the time of
people became dependent on the information
disseminated by the media institutions, in fact, there had been issues of
political maneuvering of the government to some media outfits just to make sure
that will remain in the position by making segues to set aside the
political issues, yet, it did not prosper.
To end this report, I would like to stress some
important issues concerning the role of media in the democratization process.
Media believed to be an institution as well as instruments in which it primarily
serves to provide information significant to the development of a democratic
society and preserving the democratic ideals. Yet, media also position itself as
institution that wields its inherent power in maintaining the status quo and
social order of a democratic society. Furthermore, while media practitioners
struggle to remain objective in delivering information and messages to the
public, for many, this has become optional. While media practitioners are still
perceived to be partial and subjective disseminators of information, the public
also preserves their image as social critics who denounce social evils, expose
political trickery and defender of freedom. While Tri-media remain the main tool
for disseminating information to influence the public, television is the medium
that people see as their main source of information and, thus, is the most
influential. This crucial role is important in the democratization process of
the society in which it assumes a role of being a 4th estate
responsible for sourcing out information that is credible, objective, and fair.
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