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I thought democracy had failed Filipinos. But it is we who have failed it | Miguel Syjuco

Successive leaders of the Philippines have confused democracy with populism, using it as rubber stamp to validate their reign

At the turn of the millennium, I joined thousands in the streets of Metro Manila to demand the ouster of President Joseph Estrada. His allies in the legislature had been gleefully scuppering his deserved impeachment. In response, Filipinos flooded Edsa, the highway where 15 years earlier the People Power Revolution had peacefully toppled our dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

That protest was my first. A politician’s son, I’d remained rebelliously apolitical well into my 20s, but Estrada’s impunity was unacceptable. His corruption was legendary, and months earlier his son’s bodyguards had pulled me from my car and beaten me when I refused to make way for their convoy. That’s how I learned that politics is always ultimately personal.

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