New bill makes EDSA anniversary permanent holiday

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
New bill makes EDSA anniversary permanent holiday
It rained with yellow confetti at the People Power Monument in Quezon City in celebration of the 28th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution in 2014, which ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has filed a bill seeking to make the historic overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship a permanent annual holiday after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. dropped the EDSA People Power anniversary from next year’s holiday schedule.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay, 1st District) on Monday filed House Bill 9405 declaring February 25 of every year as a regular, national public non-working holiday to commemorate the mass demonstrations that ousted the president’s father.

The annual declaration of the 1986 EDSA People Power as a national holiday has largely been left up to the discretion of presidents as there is no law that designates it as such, unlike Ninoy Aquino Day, which became a holiday through Republic Act 9256.

Instead, February 25 was declared a "special national holiday" through a presidential proclamation in 2000 by then-president Joseph Estrada.

This year, Marcos moved the EDSA People Power anniversary commemoration on February 24 — a Friday. Malacañang made the announcement just a day before, saying that it would create a long weekend and promote holiday economics. 

For 2024, Malacañang has defended the event’s exclusion from the list of holidays, saying that the event has "minimum socioeconomic impact" as it falls on a Sunday and “coincides with the rest day for most workers/laborers.” 

In filing HB 9405, Lagman said that the exclusion of the democratic milestone from the country’s holiday celebrations is a “continuing distortion of the verities about the evils and repression of the Marcos martial era.”

Past presidents have declared February 25 as a day of national celebration “irrespective of whether or not it falls on a Sunday,” Lagman said.

“The more Marcos Jr. would sweep under the rug of historical perfidy the profligacy and oppression of his father’s dictatorship, the more unreachable reconciliation and justice will be,” Lagman added.

Lagman said that the president and his allies in Congress — the lower chamber of which is ruled by his cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez — are “forced to good in agreeing with the bill” because doing so otherwise would make them appear to support the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship. 

“Why is the bill filed only now? We forgot that Filipinos are forgetful and sitting presidents would treat in varying degrees the celebration of the peaceful EDSA People Power Revolution,” the lawmaker said.

“For this reason, albeit belatedly, there has to be a law memorializing the Filipino people's relentless crusade for freedom and democracy which culminated in the ouster of Marcos, Sr,” Lagman added.

The bill's explanatory note also highlighted the importance of designating events as national holidays in preserving a nation's collective memory of its past. 

"The imperative of memorialization cannot be overemphasized. In fact, an October 2020 report of the current United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence focused on memorialization processes as a fifth pillar of transitional justice,” the bill stated.

The Department of Education last month decided to shorten “Diktadurang Marcos” to a mere “Diktadura” in the Grade 6 Araling Panlipunan syllabus in the revised curriculum for Kinder to Grade 10.

Several anti-martial law advocates and human rights groups condemned the curriculum change — which became public knowledge due to an internal DepEd memorandum that circulated online — saying that the Marcos name cannot be detached from the rights abuses and ill-gotten wealth that characterized the Marcos dictatorship.

In 2022, Marcos was quick to dismiss any concerns that his administration would rewrite or remove history lessons pertaining to the abuses during his father's regime — once in his inaugural speech and again in his first State of the Nation Address.

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