Robredo on people power: Democracy under constant threat
Confetti rains down during a ceremony to mark the 35th anniversary of the EDSA people power uprising, which ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, at the People Power Monument in Quezon City yesterday.
Michael Varcas

Robredo on people power: Democracy under constant threat

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo urged Filipinos yesterday to unite and work together amid constant threats to democracy which the country fought for in 1986.

“Today, we renew our faith in this fundamental truth of EDSA: that our people, standing united, can never be defeated,” Robredo said as the nation marked the 35th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

“We affirm this truth, even as we acknowledge that the promise of EDSA has not yet been completely fulfilled,” she said.

Robredo noted efforts to revise history for the personal agenda of a powerful few, stressing that the country is still in the process of “forging the nation we dreamt of, and fought for, on EDSA.”

She said the challenge is to “find within ourselves that strength, that faith, that fire to continue the work that remains to be done. And in doing so, we must find a way to walk forward together.”

The biggest lesson of people power, she said, is the same thing that the country needs to address the pandemic and the current situation: unity. “And because we are united in this cause, I am confident that we can achieve even our highest aspirations,” she added.

At Malacañang, President Duterte called on Filipinos to remain vigilant in safeguarding democracy, preserving values and upholding their rights.

“May this serve as a constant reminder for all of us to remain vigilant in safeguarding our democratic institutions, preserving our values and upholding our rights as Filipinos,” the President said in a written message for the EDSA celebration, which had low-key rites at the People Power Monument compared to commemorations in past years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the country’s history has been shaped by countless battles that the valiant heroes of the past had fought.

“Today we mark the 35th EDSA People Power Revolution inspired by the valor of those whose sacrifice made the liberties we enjoy today possible,” Duterte further said.

In contemplating the relevance of the occasion, he urged Filipinos to proceed with renewed hope and optimism toward the realization of aspirations for the nation.

“Guided by the spirit of EDSA, let us set aside our differences and work together in building a legacy that we can proudly leave behind for future generations of Filipinos,” the President added.

At the anniversary celebration yesterday, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte led the flag-raising and wreath-laying rites at the People Power monument with officials from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and other national and local government agencies.

Last year, the number of attendees was also noticeably lean, which groups said was because of calls not to hold huge gatherings due to the coronavirus threat.

‘Essence of peace is justice’

Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown reminded the Filipino people of the essence of peace in society as he emphasized that its pursuit must be continued.?In his homily on the eve of the 35th commemoration of EDSA People Power at the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA, Brown said that people become violent when they do not achieve justice.

“For there to have peace in the society, there needs to be love, but there principally needs to be justice. Justice is the foundation of peace in society. When there isn’t justice, when people can’t receive justice, they react in violent ways,” Brown said.?Prior to his homily, Brown reflected on the important role of Mary in the peaceful revolution that ousted the late dictator.

In an interview with Church-run Radyo Veritas, Novaliches Bishop emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr., one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, reminded Filipinos to work together to put an end to corruption and injustice in the country. He said that a good Christian equates to being a good Filipino.

In a separate statement, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) stressed the significance of commemorating people power, saying it reminds Filipinos of their united stand against the violence, corruption and lies perpetrated by a dictator.

“Although we did not achieve all our aspirations as a nation after the dictatorship, it is important that we are reminded that there is an end to the rule of inhumane leaders who put their own interests first,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in Filipino.

Scores of protesters, including victims of human rights violations during martial law, marched from Camp Aguinaldo to the People Power Monument to mark the occasion and denounced what they called a “return of dictatorship” under the rule of Duterte.

“Remembering the legacy of the EDSA People Power uprising 35 years ago and the anti-dictatorship struggle is more urgent now, more than ever, with the Marcoses announcing their nefarious plans to further creep back to power and in the face of another murderous dictatorship under Duterte,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the rights advocate group Karapatan said.

The activist groups specifically denounced the continuing bloody police operations against illegal drugs, the shutdown of media giant ABS-CBN and attacks on several journalists and media personalities, red-tagging of various critics of the administration and several left-leaning organizations as well as the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said that while poverty and other socio-economic problems in the country still persist 35 years after EDSA People Power, the anniversary of the peaceful revolt must always be celebrated as it is a testament to the power of the masses to topple a dictatorship.

Jerome Adonis, secretary-general of labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, said “a murderous regime under Duterte is much more repulsive… Let us hold the Duterte administration accountable for its human rights abuses.”

More than 1,000 police personnel from the Quezon City and Eastern Police Districts were deployed in control points around key areas of movements to provide security and ensure minimum health protocols were observed.

Meanwhile, police arrested a man who claimed to be a member of Migrante International for allegedly leaving a bag and a box containing what turned out to be vegetables he said he intended to sell. – Edith Regalado, Christina Mendez, Neil Jayson Servallos, Robertzon Ramirez, Elizabeth Marcelo

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