People’s revolutions in the Philippines and Hong Kong: Should they be compared?

September 17, 2019 - 7:47 PM
1986 EDSA People Power Revolution and Hong Kong revolt
Hong Kong protests on the left and the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution on the right (1986 EDSA People Power Revolution by Sonny Camarillo)(Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

The perceived success of the previous uprising in Hong Kong with the historic People Power Revolution in 1986 is being compared online, starting discussions on the circumstances of both events and arguments on why they should not be pitted against each other.

Twitter user Andrew J. Phelan tweeted on September 14:

“Some Filipino said ‘people power’ was the Philippines’ gift to the world. Well, looks like you’ve lost that mantle, not that you’ve used it since the 1980s, to the innovative brave stylish freedom fighters of Hong Kong!”

Phelan also shared a poster of a Hong Kong protester wearing a gas mask with a slogan: “Hong Kong: A New Hope.”

Filipino user @JayveeDRosario denounced Phelan for the tweet and noted that fighting for democracy and freedom is not a competition.

“We aren’t performing for your viewing pleasure, Andrew,” part of his tweet read.

They also stressed how such events made many people suffer, and therefore should not be seen viewed as if it were a form of entertainment by outsiders.

Others, meanwhile, said that the effects of the country’s bloodless revolution did not last as the relatives of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos still hold top government positions.

Last June, massive protests in Hong Kong erupted over a controversial extradition bill that would further reinforce Beijing’s authority over the semi-autonomous island.

Over two million Hong Kong residents called for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation and complete withdrawal of the bill.

Lam initially postponed the bill’s implementation, but soon decided to scrap it after nearly three months of growing violence between Hong Kong police and civilian protesters.

Vox explained the consequences of the contentious measure should it be passed into law.

“The amendments would give the chief executive the authority to decide on a case-by-case basis if a suspected criminal should be extradited to a place with which the city has no formal extradition agreement. That on its own is already a problem for critics, as the city’s leader isn’t elected, but rather is picked by a committee appointed by the government in Beijing.”

People’s revolution: A look back

It was Herminio Coloma, former Presidential Communications Operations Office secretary under the Noynoy Aquino administration, who gave the description “gift to the world” to the 1986 People Power during a commemoration of the event back in 2016.

“Demonstrating the primacy of people power is the Filipinos’ gift to the world: we paved the way for the peaceful dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the return of democracy in South Korea and Romania,” Coloma said.

The first people power ended the bloody two-decade authoritarian regime of Marcos and forced his family into exile in Hawaii. This paved a new era of democratic rule in the country.

While Marcos’ relatives continued to stay in power shortly after, the legacy of what became known as one of the most peaceful revolts in Asia was felt in different countries which were similarly undergoing political unrest.

In South Korea, huge rallies challenged the rule of former strongman Chun Doo-hwa, leading to democratic reforms to their country.

Romania, Germany, Taiwan were among the countries that held similar “peaceful revolutions” against tyrannic leadership years after the EDSA Revolution.

The return of the Marcoses

Imelda Marcos, known as the “Iron Butterfly” during their heydays, made a successful comeback to local politics just a few years after their forced departure.

The dictator’s wife, along with her children Bongbong and Imee, nurtured their influence in their bailiwick Ilocos Norte until they became allies with President Rodrigo Duterte.

So far, Imee held the highest position as senator. Bongbong, meanwhile, nearly won against incumbent vice president Leni Robredo last 2016.

RELATED: What critics abroad are saying about ‘The Kingmaker’ documentary on Imelda Marcos’ comeback