Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, Vol 23, No 2 (2008)

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Theorizing and Living the Transition: The Aquino Government’s First Seven Months

Randolf S. David

Abstract


The nonviolent February 1986 EDSA Revolution ushered in a transition period from an authoritarian regime towards democratic one. This paper focuses on the interface of three basic factors in the Philippine context: the alternative vision, the immediate problems, and the concrete internal and external conditions, which either limit or actualize the possibilities of social transformation. The revolution, which, came about as an unintended product of a failed coup attempt and a coalition of different groups, placed the Aquino administration in charge. The events that followed saw various moves to rectify the repressions of the previous administration such as restoring the freedom of the press and abolishing all the repressive decrees. Afterwards, the Aquino administration entered a more progressive phase as it tried to address concerns of labor rights, institutionalization of people’s councils, payment of foreign debt, dialogues with armed underground forces, land reforms, and political normalization. The dilemmas of political consolidation did not disappear and Cory Aquino’s popularity steadily declined as it was based on how the current government could successfully provide livelihood. The virtues of self-reliance had to be scrapped with the nonexistent dynamism of private capital as the government needed the new loan provided by the IMF and the World Bank. Politically, the Aquino government maintains an open democratic regime but it faces tremendous odds as it presides over a “democratic conjuncture,” a politicoeconomic phase that it cannot readily control. The Philippine experience shows that the conditions of toppling authoritarianism are different from what is needed to preserve and advance democracy and an alternative praxis is yet to be formed.

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