Philippine People’s Power Revolution & Lessons for Sri Lanka’s Yahapalana Government
Posted on May 4th, 2017

Shenali D Waduge

A series of popular demonstrations with over 2million civilians taking part began in 1983 continuing till February 1986 brought down the Philippine dictator. It also involved the participation of religious groups and political parties. It was called the Yellow Revolution (using yellow ribbons) & ‘the Revolution that surprised the world’. It was a campaign of non-violent civil resistance against corruption, vote buying, and election fraud & regime violence. It led to the ouster of President Marcos and the return to democracy in the Philippines. There are some lessons for Sri Lanka’s leaders & government to draw from the Philippine example.

There are some comparisons relevant to the Rajapakse camp too which cannot deny that it too had its share of follies that made the regime change easier to complete.

Marcos was vying for a 3rd term which the 18th amendment enabled for Rajapakse. While Marcos issued Marshall Law to extend his term, Rajapakse went against advice to hold presidential elections two years ahead of time. Other similarities was the floating of a new constitution in both countries which was aimed at transferring the presidential system to a parliamentary one allowing Marcos to remain in power. We can recall the draft constitution of 2000 in which Chandrika Bandaranaike attempted to do the same. A referendum was held in Philippines after imprisoning all his political opponents for the new constitution and passed with 95% which is probably the modus operandi being floated by the present government in Sri Lanka.

What is looking to be another likely scenario is the manner that immediately after the referendum Marcos ordered the arrest and imprisonment of political opponents and the Commission set up naturally found the accused guilty and were sentenced to death by firing squad. We have lost count of the number of political opponents that the present government in Sri Lanka has arrested on trivial charges that deny bail where the magistrate’s office is opened even at 10p.m. for sentencing. Even public officials have been dragged for questioning with each having to pay for and find their own lawyers to defend them. None of the so called legal defenders or human rights organizations have come forward to question why people are being arrested after being asked to come for questioning and kept without producing evidence against them while denying them bail.

Senator Aquino who was to be sentenced to death declared “I was sentenced to die for allegedly being the leading communist leader. I am not a communist, never was and never will be.” The recent UNP May Day Rally saw the former Presidential candidate publicly declare that the former President should be hanged by his shawl (Satakaya).

Aquino was assassinated on August 21, 1983 and the killing shook the Pilipino people most of whom by now had had enough of the Marcos regime and inspired them to commence a non-violent civil disobedient movement. With chances of history repeating it is advised that assassination attempts should not be considered an option lest it should accelerate public action against the SL government.

Marcos used the ‘Communist’ slogan to align with and obtain the assistance of the US. The present regime is using the former regime’s ties to China as reason to align with the US & India both of whom treat China as their enemy. What is also noteworthy is that Marcos assured the US that Philippine would allow US to use its military and naval bases just as the present PM of Sri Lanka is allowing both US & India to set up bases in Sri Lanka as well as gift Sri Lanka’s strategic assets without the approval of the People of Sri Lanka.

Another noteworthy comparison was the state of the economy in both countries. By 1983 Philippines was plunged into debt no different to the current status quo in Sri Lanka where a government complains of debt by previous government but has enough money to buy super luxury cars, go on frequent foreign jaunts even for gala dinners and has all the money to re-renovate their homes.

What is relevant to the present is the manner that the international community could not ignore the sentiments of the people of the Philippines and the US had no choice but to force Marcos into holding elections. However, election rigging was expected and Marcos declared himself winner though the National Movement for Free Elections (partly funded by the US) declared Corazon Aquino as winner. 35 computer technicians even walked out in protest against the deliberate computer manipulations of the election results to favor Marcos.

However, Marcos claimed stake as winner resulting in the 50 Opposition Members of the Parliament walking out in protest – a marked similarity to the numbers in the Joint Opposition in Sri Lanka! The Pilipino people refused to accept the result, another lesson that the Sri Lankan Government should take note of and probably explains why it is now reluctant to hold elections given that even cheating is not an option to follow.

In what could be another possibility likely to happen was the manner that both candidates taking oaths (Marcos & Aquino) in 2 different locations with people galvanizing around Aquino inspiring her to call for mass strikes and boycotts of media and companies owned by Marcos cronies no different to the current calls to boycott Indian products and Indian petroleum in Sri Lanka. As a result, the crony banks, corporations, and media were hit hard, and their shares in the stock market plummeted to record levels. These too are likely lessons for Sri Lanka.

The wave against Marcos affected the military and probably explains why the present Sri Lankan government has sought to weaken the military and virtually dismantle the country’s intelligence unit. Most of these officers are now in prison for trivial charges without bail and no evidence. In Philippines segments of the army however did plan a military coup however the plot was exposed and arrests were ordered. Lt. Gen Fidel Ramos chief of the Philippine Constabulary (now the Philippine National Police) resigned while the Cardinal condemned the election fraud encouraging the people to rally round the ‘rebels’. Radio Veritas was used to mobilize millions of people. Ironically, the same Radio Veritas tied up with LTTE Voice of Tigers and its Tamil service was run by the Tamil Catholics of Tamil Nadu. Voice of Tigers had a coordinating office” inside St. Sebastian’s Church in Mallavi, Wanni; the office was opened by the pro-LTTE Bishop of Mannar Fr. Rayappu Joseph. Radio Veritas was supported with United States Agency for International Development funds that had been funneled through the Asia Foundation

Marcos sent troops to the main transmitter of Radio Veritas to cut off transmission as it proved to be a valuable communication tool for the people – we can see how the present Sri Lankan government is toying how to handle the social media despite the failure of training given by the US.

While it goes without saying that just as the Catholics and the Church has a major say in the affairs of the people of the Philippines, the place of Buddhists and the Sangha in Sri Lanka remains unshakeable.

The Church provided full support to the rebels – informing of government troop movements, supplying food and essential provisions and even prayer vigils. ‘My Homeland’ song was sung aloud by all protestors who were now occupying the streets. The armed tanks started building up and the nuns holding rosaries knelt in front of the tanks and people began holding arms to prevent the troops and not a shot was fired. The tanks withdraw. Marcos imposes curfew. The US led by President Reagan is forced to take action and openly called for their puppet to resign and troops start deserting to join the ‘rebels’ amidst the cheers of the people. Marcos came on government-controlled Channel 4 tv station refusing to step down and soon the station was captured by the ‘rebels’.

It was a revolution without bloodshed and marked three very significant players which draw parallels to the very same rising dissent in Sri Lanka. The role of the Roman Catholic Church, the demoralized state of the military and the gentle nature of the Filipino people draw parallels to the Buddhist Sangha, the demoralized Sri Lankan military and the compassionate and gentle people of Sri Lanka.

Marcos was replaced by Cory Aquino, wife of the assassinated Ninoy Aquino who belonged to a wealthy family. However, her reign did not prove any better. The poor were still poor, rich were still in charge and capitalism emerged stronger than before. She too became a puppet of the West. The lesson is when a country is sold out to foreign countries who wish to use the geopolitical positioning of the country, the leaders are ‘owned’ and controlled by these countries. Aquino herself had requested US military intervention to stop a coup against her in 1989 (US declassified documents)

The Rajapakse camp themselves need to acknowledge their former errors. People have forgiven but will not forget and the same follies cannot and should not be repeated.

America had been involved in Philippines since 1898. Independence came in 1946 but American influence remained. If America chose to ignore Marcos’s undemocratic government because of its bases, is it not the same status quo currently applicable to the Sri Lankan Government who are giving handouts of the island in exchange for their silence on the undemocratic methods they are now rolling out? Franklin Roosevelt was to say of US support for Nicaraguan dictator Somoza – ”He may be an S.O.B., but he’s our S.O.B.” Just as the US & India are supporting LTTE & TNA, the Reagan administration viewed Marcos as a ‘freedom fighter’ against the Communists. However, eventually, the same US administration that supported Marcos secretly connived to oust him & this is what the present government must take serious note of. When the wave of unpopularity sets in even those that initially supported, will desert, US deserted Marcos and the likelihood of the same happening to the Sri Lankan Government should not be ignored. The US press did a U-turn and news releases were anti-Marcos and these are clues that the Sri Lankan Government can gage to realize that they are being deserted.

Another noteworthy factor was how Marcos manipulated the Americans by claiming to the press that it was the Americans who advised him to go for early elections! Our present government is also highly capable of outfoxing even the Americans and Indians!

Corazon Aquino also hired US PR firms and incidentally Mark Malloch Brown was assigned to teach her how to respond to the media. This was the same person who has been involved in Sri Lankan affairs too and was deputy to Kofi Annan in 2006.

Marcos eventually departed. He died in Hawaii in 1989.

Marcos was accused of stealing billions no different to the allegations that were part of the campaign slogans against the previous Sri Lankan Government. The Philippine Presidential Commission on Good Government launched to investigate $10 billion amassed between 1965 and 1986 by the Marcos family was asked to end their 30 year investigation in 2013 after failing to recover what was alleged. It is interesting how the same modus operandi is being rolled out currently in Sri Lanka.

What is interesting currently about Philippines is the emergence of the tough-talking Rodrigo Duterte. I’am no American puppet”.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,”

When the EU urged his government to investigate human rights abuses, Mr Duterte launched an obscenity-filled rant and showed Brussels his middle finger and described the EU as hypocrites.

Just as Sri Lanka is of strategic interest to India, US & even China, Philippines has been the regional headquarters, of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for Southeast Asia.

The writings on the wall in Sri Lanka with the reluctance to hold even a municipal election showcases the lack of good governance currently prevailing. The government is advised through the example of the Philippines and their people’s revolution that brought down a dictator, not to take the same path.

Govern the country well, govern the country to meet the aspirations of the people and the future generations not to please the interests of those that brought them to power, because even those who help bring governments to power do not like to be condemned by the people of those countries and when that happens, they do not think twice to replace their puppets whatever the puppets promises them as this government is currently doing.

These are lessons for all of us

Shenali D Waduge

14 Responses to “Philippine People’s Power Revolution & Lessons for Sri Lanka’s Yahapalana Government”

  1. Christie Says:…/message-from-…/article18365691.ece
    See Fake News Indian type about Gall Face Rally. It is the (Sinhala) Chauvanists who attene=ded the rally and similar crowds were at the other rallies.

    Message from Sri Lanka rallies
    Leaders use May Day platforms to reach out to their support bases

    Show more reactions

  2. Sarath W Says:

    Philippines and Iran are good examples of how those citizens ousted the American backed dictators. It is time for Sri Lankans to ousted the current traitorous government by a similar campaign before a Fonseka dictatorship takes over and destroy the country.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Philippine the ONLY Christian Asian country. ONLY Asian country with a backbone against USA, UNHRC, etc.

    Philippine supported SL in UNHRC resolutions.

    Anyway, what is the lesson here? The SANGHA can save SL from this DICTATORSHIP as Philippines was saved by the church.

  4. ranjit Says:

    “The Rajapaksa camp themselves need to acknowledge their former errors. People have forgiven but will not forget and the same follies cannot and should not be repeated”. Very fine words by Shenali. I hope people will read this article carefully and understand the strength of the people’s power which can be used to oust a dictatorship government if the will is there. The moment has arrived for us to stand against this evil dictatorship government of Sira/Run nil. I hope JO and the progressive forces in SRI lanka get together unitedly to oust this rowdy government of liars and manipulators. It is time and a must if we need a country to call home. Sinhalese cannot stay idle while the ungreatful minority races trying to erase our history and grab lands belongs to our ancestors. Instead of blaming and point fingering all the opposition forces must organise an island wide work stoppage and a people’s power movement to show this evil government the power of the voter.

    This disgraceful politicians and the government must be ousted and brought them to justice for their crimes against humanity. Within this short period they have looted millions or maybe billions through various illicit deals. Central bank daylight robbery must be investigated and the culprits should be sent behind bars at once. Illegal deals with india must be investigated and scraped. All NGO’s must be barred from the land. America and other agencies who financed Sira/Run nil election campaign must be probed and found guilty must be sent to gallows. Voter fraud must be investigated definitely because we know very well how everything happened. JO should be more vigilant this time. They should have a secret service to monitor and to catch all wrongdoers in this Yamapalanaya government. These hypocrites are worst than any previous government which was in power. Parliament has become a third class joint with too many jokers and high class thieves . As Shenali suggests people’s power is the answer and it should be quick because these yamapalakayo are very shrewd and cunning they can and will do anything to stay in power. They have America and Indian parasites to help and finance so we need to be careful and have better advanced plans to oust this horrible government. President Mahinda Rajapaksa must lead this people’s power movement as he is the only able and charasmatic leader we have today in our Motherland. Patriots call for action in the name of the Sinhala land.

  5. janakic Says:

    It was satisfying to see masses showing disapproval of govt strategies. I agree that we need to organise a general strike for this govt. to concede. The disappointment however is our Buddhist monks, as a number of them are not supportive of the good of the country but like the Srisena faction of the SLFP are for perks and benefits for themselves. This is a bit of contrast from the past where people trusted and venerated the monks as they supported the country and its people. JO should address this issues. They are for the most part misled by Ven. Ratana. Most Sri Lankans and monks in general do not understand international politics, leave alone the underline schemes and stratagems. JO has a mammoth task ahead to educate the masses if we are to defeat the referendum on constitutional changes. This again is a difficult task with the LTTE and foreign backers on government side and the propensity of our people to believe in the promised utopia through ‘Sanhidiyawa’, as currently advertised.

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    Another EXCELLENT article by Shenali comparing the anti-Marcos revolution in the Phollippines to the current situation in Sri Lanka, that Yamapalanaya leaders should read and cogitate in depth before they embark on various legal and extra-legal maneuvers to deny the citizens of Sri Lanka their democratic right to change their government as they see fit!

    SOW not the WIND, LEST you REAP the WHIRLWIND!

  7. Vaisrawana Says:

    A very well researched article, the result of (perhaps, thankless) hard work done voluntarily in the service of our motherland. Kudos! Shenali. Your critical look at MR’s past role is justified. But, we need not be as unforgiving towards him as we should be towards his local opponents. Not that MR is inviolable. He is human and fallible. We are obliged to be contented with the best among a normally imperfect lot. That is being realistic. But, my feeling is that even if he was perfectly upright and blameless in his performance as president (an unlikely thing), the Americans would not have allowed him to continue in power, because he defied them. We must and do take that MR’s heroism. But the reality is that he is destined to be obstructed by the relentless neocolonialists or neoliberalists, or whatever you call them of the West. Watching around us today, could it be that the palace coup so treacherously pulled off by the Gang of Six (Ranil, Chandrika, Mangala, Rajitha, Maithree, and Sarath F, so arranged in the order of bastardy) under the aegis of Americans, is reaching its logical final phase, I mean, the total disintegration of our country, which is bound to mark a point of no return? Could it be that already that stage has started? What could be the meaning of Pujith J’s mysterious presence in the JVP May Day rally at BRC Grounds? or of the even more mysterious shooting by a cop at the unp elephant symbol? or of hints of a gestapo being set up under SF? A Philippine-like popular uprising in Sri Lanka is already being scuttled even before it is properly contemplated? Food for thought for patriots, don’t you think?

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    If this is going to be BASTILLE DAY, it will NOT work.

    ENDIAN ARMY is just one call away for Sira and RUNIL.

    Philippines was a different case. The CHURCH was behind the people and the world respects the church especially USA that was in the Philippines at that time. This is what is missing from SL. There is NO superpower to take people’s side.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    Sri Lanka should do it her own way of making peace with INDIA, through the UN Security Council (UNSC).

    There is a past List of unacceptable actions by INDIA against Sri Lanka which List ought to be presented to the UNSC, and an MoU of Peace signed with INDIA, with the UNSC as Monitor.
    Comments welcome.

  10. Ananda-USA Says:


    The UN is the pet poodle of the West, and the West is now aligned with India to contain China.

    Therefore, askin the UN to ensure fair play by India is likely to introduce yet another party inimical to the majority Sinhala Buddhist community of Sri Lanka into the mix.

    That is the same mistake we made in allowing Norway to intercede in peace negotiations with the LTTE; the Norwegians were not impartial, they were already aligned with the Tamils.

    No, that will not work. The only recourse for Sri Lanka is to balance India and the West with China, Russia and the non-aligned nations of the Asia, Africa and South America.

  11. Cerberus Says:

    Thank you Shenali.

    The Tamil movement had the backing of the Catholic Church, the West who send the Norwegians as mediators who actually took their side, and Indian Govt who actually trained the LTTE. The poor Sinhalese had no one to help them. Yet the Tsunami came in 2004 December on boxing day and wiped out the Sea Tigers and Prabhakaran in one swoop. After that, they had to depend on a stand in for Prabhakaran who was not strong enough for the job. That is why J.N. Dixit a Chennai-born Catholic died of a heart attack when he heard the news of the Tsunami and Prabhakaran’s death.

    As Krishna tells Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita, when a person does an Adharmic action then the consequences are already on his head even though it will take some time to act. The whole Tamil cause is based on a lie and therefore it will never succeed because it is an Adharmic action.

  12. Ananda-USA Says:


    Are you saying Dixit could not Fixit, so he made an untimely Exit?

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    Laddu, UNSC is a FRAUD. Handover the henhouse to the fox!

    Even Endia doesn’t believe in Baghvad Gita.

    VP didn’t die in the tsunami. We SPREAD this rumor to DISHEARTEN LTTE in the aftermath of the tsunami. VP was at the 1-4 base in Mulaitivu AWAY from the coast. He never attended church!! He was a HINDU. He lived until 18 May 2009. VP’s family built the VVT Murugan koyil. VP, his mother, father and 2 sons were cremated.

    Dickshitt was a HINDU from Kerala. His father was an Endian freedom fighter. He died ONE WEEK AFTER the tsunami. He was cremated in Brar Square in Delhi. All 5 Endia’s NSAs were HINDUS.

    SL was very lucky dickshitt died 10 months before the SL presidential election. Otherwise he would have CREATED HELL to stop MR becoming president.

  14. Fran Diaz Says:


    Thanks for response.
    I agree with your suggestion too.
    We must keep all our options open (do Mix & Match of countries to suit the occassion), to save Lanka from bifurcation and bulk sale/99 yr leases, of LAND to foreigners.

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