‘Forgetting past could lead to return of dark history’

Romina Cabrera - Agence France-Presse
âForgetting past could lead to return of dark historyâ
Former president Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III delivers a message during the celebration of the 33rd EDSA revolution at the People Power Monument in Quezon City on Saturday.
Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Forget the past and this could lead to a repeat of the nation’s dark history, former president Benigno Aquino III warned Filipinos the other night during for the commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA people power revolution today.

Aquino said the values of the EDSA revolution in 1986 that led to the downfall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos are still relevant for Filipinos even to this day.

“Kung hindi na relevant, malimutan n’yo ang aral ng nakalipas, garantisadong uulitin n’yo ang pagkakamali. Nasa inyo ’yun, demokrasya. Nasa inyo kung gusto n’yong ulitin ang madilim na bahagi ng kasaysayan (If it’s no longer relevant and you’ve forgotten the lessons of the past, guaranteed, you will repeat the mistakes. It’s on you, the democracy. It’s on you if you want to experience again the dark chapter of our history,” he said in an interview.

Aquino likened the situation to an ostrich that burrows its head into the ground when faced with a lion, thinking that the danger is no longer there when it does not see it. 

Still, the former chief executive said that he understands Duterte’s absence at any EDSA People Power commemoration since he took office almost three years ago. 

“That is his right. It sends a message out. In a democracy, we have to respect their decision even if we don’t agree with it,” Aquino said. 

The former president hit two recent government actions that trace their roots from the Marcos era: the refloating of the idea of of renaming the country to Maharlika and the creation of the human settlements department.

Duterte had earlier said he was open to renaming the country to Maharlika, agreeing with the former strongman’s suggestion of the name.

Duterte also signed into law the bill creating the human settlements department earlier this week. The department was supposedly created for Marcos’s wife Imelda during his era. 

Aquino questioned the two terms, saying that they could be reflective of Duterte’s preference or even ideology. 

“To choose that particular word and it was Marcos who floated that idea, was that a conscious choice to indicate a preference?” Aquino asked. 

“Is there a dearth of words to name a particular department to convey what you want? If you use those particular words, is it not just to indicate the function or is it indicative also of your ideology? That is the question, I don’t know why those words were particularly chosen,” he added.

Support for Otso Diretso

Aquino on Saturday also took the stage to formally express his support for opposition candidates under the Otso Diretso slate. 

The former president campaigned for the eight candidates who he said were the true opposition who can challenge the policies of the administration. 

“Kung hindi kayo sang-ayon, dito na tayo sa direcho, sa Otso Diretso (If you dislike the administration, vote for Otso Diretso),” he said. 

Aquino also urged the public to not vote for “kawayan” candidates, or those who sway their allegiance from one party to the next.

In a sense, the midterm elections is “the most relevant feedback system” that would confirm the public’s approval or disapproval of the administration, according to Aquino. 

He referred to the midterm elections of 2013, where nine of the administration bets won senatorial seats.

Aquino claimed that some people who wanted to help the campaign of the opposition were scared to do so, echoing previous statements of the Otso Diretso candidates.

“Kailangan gawin natin dito, hindi lang iboto at bantayan ang boto kundi masigasig na ikampanya ang walong ito (What we need to do here is not only to vote and guard the vote, but also to earnestly campaign for these eight candidates),” he said. 

Aquino also used his 30-minute speech to hit the Dengvaxia issue that he said has led to the measles outbreak in the country and to strongly question “nanlaban” claims of the police under the administration’s drug war.

‘Power lies in ordinary Pinoys’

In Naga City yesterday, Vice President Leni Robredo reminded Filipinos that real power lies in ordinary citizens who unite for the common good.

Robredo issued the statement as the nation marks the 33rd anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution today.

The Vice President said Filipinos should always remember the lessons of the EDSA uprising that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship.

“The most important lesson of the (EDSA Revolution) is that the power resides in ordinary Filipino. That if Filipinos unite, the impossible becomes possible,” she said after leading the commemoration in her hometown.

Robredo stressed that the spirit of EDSA should not be confined to a certain political party, saying it would be an “insult” to other Filipinos who joined the cause in 1986.

“EDSA is not defined by any color, it is not defined by any group or politics. EDSA happened because the people united,” she said.  – With Helen Flores, Edu Punay


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