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TECHNOLOGY CHANGING POLITICAL DYNAMICS
"People Power II" -- as the events of January 17 to 20 are now called -- was different from first "People Power" in February 1986 in three key ways.
First, "People Power I" resulted from manipulation of vote counting in the snap elections and triggered by a military faction that was forced to come out in the open after its coup plot was discovered, while "People Power II" resulted from a series of allegations of massive graft on the part of a president and triggered by perceived collusion among 11 Estrada administration-aligned senators to silence a move to present key evidence in the impeachment case.
Second, it took almost two decades for civil society to respond forcefully to allegations of massive graft and corruption, human rights violations and a number of other crimes before "People Power I" erupted; and only a little less than three years for the same society to depose a leader who was perceived to be aping the object of hate of the first revolt.
The third distinction, however, is a first in Philippine -- maybe even Asian and world -- revolutionary history: "People Power II" showed the power of the Internet and mobile communications technology -- not to mention broadcast media -- not only to shape public opinion but also to mobilize civil society when push came to a shove.
Indeed, "People Power II" demonstrated how the Filipinos used these new technologies to topple an impeached official when the constitutionally prescribed impeachment process bogged down.
True, the indispensable ingredient of an irate public pushed to the wall cannot be ignored in the equation.
But the fact is it would have taken longer to mobilize people who were otherwise not included in the organized opposition had it not been for new technologies at the ready disposal of the man of the street.
And in intense situations like the events that unfolded in those fateful five days of January, a few hours too late would have spelled a big difference in the outcome of the revolt.
Clearly, information technology (IT) is dramatically changing the landscape of Philippine politics. Political dynamics will never be the same after Jan. 20.
There was no weapon more lethal at EDSA than the cellular phone, said political analyst and UP sociology professor Randy David in a recent interview. "We did not have that in 1986," he said referring to the first EDSA revolt that freed the Philippines from the nearly 20-year dictatorship of the late Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Short message service (SMS) -- or simply "texting" -- over mobile phones is credited for the fast mobilization of people in EDSA just a few hours after 11 pro-Estrada senators muzzled a move by the impeachment prosecution on the evening of January 16 to present evidence that would have linked former president Joseph E. Estrada to billions of dollars worth of a bank account, and possibly to irregular business transactions.
Executives of mobile phone service providers estimated that text messages per day sent after that day suddenly jumped to about 70 million to even 100 million -- two to three times the normal daily volume.
But that was just the culmination of more than two years of using IT tools for political purposes. The Erap (nickname of Mr. Estrada) jokes that were passed around through e-mail and text messages before were slowly transformed into an exchange of political ideas
Quotes talked about in this paper
Terminology talked about in this report
political analyst, broadcast media, Short message service, Web Site, bank account,
Technology included in this research paper
Internet, information technology, SMS,
Names referenced in this term paper
Mr. David, Col. Fermin Javier, Mr. Estrada, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Andy Brack, Randy David, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Villa,
Organizations mentioned in this research material
National Computer Center,
Locations included in this research paper
the Filipinos, US, America,
Companies mentioned in this report
Stratfor.com, Erap, CNN,
Keywords referenced in this report
People Power II, philippines, Internet, new technologies, technology, EDSA, Stratfor, Filipinos, political process, political party, impeachment, interest groups, Erap Estrada, executive director, mobile phone, text messages, civil society, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, web site, tool, time and space, human rights violations, Randy David, overseas filipinos, impeachment trial, IT consulting, communications technology, Short message service, crisis, World Wide Web, information technology, snap elections, revolutionary history, totalitarian regime, information technologies, opinion polling, US elections, renato de villa, mass media, public opinion, illegal numbers, Executive Secretary, betamax, Secret Diary, November 1999, electronic signature, decision making process, developing world, electronic mail, bank account,