EDSA hero calls for end to bickering

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
EDSA hero calls for end to bickering
An officer walks around the People Power Monument on EDSA yesterday ahead of the 38th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution. At least 5,000 are expected to attend activities related to the commemoration.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Former senator Gregorio Honasan II, one of the prominent figures of the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising, called for a stop to political bickering, as the country commemorates today the 38th anniversary of the event which toppled the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

In an interview yesterday, Honasan said the legacy of the uprising is still relevant with the current political climate today.

“It is very relevant because the call now is for unity, an end to too much partisan politics,” he said.

Honasan was an Army colonel when he and then defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile led a mutiny against the elder Marcos, the father of the country’s current leader.

Hundreds of thousands of people joined the uprising, which led to Marcos’ ouster from power and the installation of Corazon Aquino to the Philippine presidency.

In later years, Honasan would lead several coup attempts against Aquino. He was later given amnesty by former president Fidel Ramos.

For the former senator, the country’s national leaders should refrain from engaging in a word war, as partisan politics will not solve the problems that most Filipinos face such as access to basic necessities: food, clothing, shelter, education and timely information.

“We have no time to engage in too much politics. We can understand the democratic space to debate and to discuss, but to spend so much time worrying about the next elections – that is counterproductive for us,” Honasan said.

It is for this reason that he opted to skip the activities by cause-oriented groups and opposition figures at the EDSA Shrine in Quezon City today, saying that he might be perceived as taking sides.

“I was in EDSA for something, not against something,” Honasan said. “If I may be forced to take sides, I will take the side of the Filipino people.”

Instead, he will commemorate the anniversary at the Bible Baptist Church and Ministries in nearby Barangay Tatalon.

Even if the younger Marcos is the current chief executive, Honasan does not consider the uprising a failure.

He said the majority of Filipinos have chosen Marcos as the country’s president in a democratic election.

On the rumors of destabilization attempts against Marcos, Honasan said the best way the President can respond is by prioritizing the welfare of Filipinos.

“You fight it with a better idea, which is reform and good government,” he said.

Renato Reyes, president of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said Charter change (Cha-cha) will take center stage in their rallies, as various groups air their opposition to efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Apart from the rally near the EDSA Shrine, Reyes said demonstrations will also be held in the cities of Naga, Legazpi, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu and Davao. Similar actions are also expected in the US, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong.

For the Bayan leader, the fact that the Marcoses are back in power and are aggressively pushing for Cha-cha is a grim reminder of the unfinished work of the revolution.

“This generation’s version of people power must definitely oppose any attempts by the Marcoses to perpetuate and entrench themselves in power through Cha-cha,” he said.

Never forget

In a Teleradyo Serbisyo interview yesterday, Sen. Nancy Binay asked the public to never forget the spirit of EDSA, as she recalled fond memories of joining protest actions as a young girl with her father, former vice president Jejomar Binay.

The elder Binay cofounded the lawyer’s group Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism (Mabini). He represented political prisoners during martial law until he himself was detained at the Ipil Rehabilitation Center.

The senator’s father was also a known “Coryista,” supporting the late former president and democracy icon who toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

“My father was a human rights lawyer that time. I grew up rallying in the streets and in Liwasang Bonifacio until the culmination of EDSA,” Binay said, referring to the acronym for Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, which is a major thoroughfare in Metro Manila and the staging area for much of the 1986 People Power uprising.

“I remember our job was to provide food for those in EDSA. My father was with the late senator Joker Arroyo guarding Malacañang after the Marcos family fled. I went to Malacañang a day after and saw the chaos there myself,” she added.

Binay urged the public not to forget the spirit of EDSA even during a second Marcos administration.

“I am bothered by the amnesia, because at that moment, the whole world admired us for that peaceful revolution. I hope we can teach the next generation the lessons from that period in our history,” she said.

“The EDSA revolution is part of being Filipino,” Binay added.

Freedom museum

Meanwhile, the public will now be able to get a glimpse of what will be featured in the soon-to-be constructed Freedom Memorial Museum for victims of the Marcos dictatorship and the martial law regime.

The Human Rights Violations Victims Memorial Commission (HRVVMC), the agency tasked to establish the museum, has opened the Freedom Memorial Museum Gallery, in time for the 38th commemoration of the EDSA People Power uprising.

“After 38 years, we have the state-sponsored museum for that period in history,” HRVVMC executive director Carmelo Victor Crisanto said during the launch of the gallery on Friday.

“The Freedom Museum Gallery is a preview of the galleries we will set up when the final museum building is finished. In the final Freedom Memorial Museum, there will be 14 galleries. This is one attempt by which we want to show human rights violations in this gallery,” Crisanto told The STAR.

Located at the HRVVMC office at the 150 Corporate Center in Panay Ave., Quezon City, the gallery will be opened to the public on Feb. 27.

The gallery features several installations, including a “wall of torture” containing some of the instruments used to torture martial law victims, and the bloodstained clothes of activist – and later chancellor of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman – Fidel Nemenzo, who was shot during a protest in 1984.

There is also a roll of victims containing the names of the 11,103 victims previously recognized by the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board, as well as an immersive experience regarding the Palimbang massacre in Sultan Kudarat in 1974.

Crisanto said guided tours will be available to those who will visit the gallery.

“We hope that this will be one of the galleries that will attract a lot of teachers and students to go to,” he said.

A long time

While he sees the gallery as a welcome development, martial law survivor and playwright Bonifacio Ilagan said the need to have a “preview” of the actual museum is an indication of the slow process of memorializing the victims of the dictatorship.

“It’s taken too long… This gallery, no matter how modest it is, is a testament to how we really (need) to make the dream a reality,” he said.

Ilagan was among the four victim-survivors whose portraits were featured in the gallery, along with former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo, journalist Jo-Ann Maglipon and Fr. Ben Alforque.

The HRVVMC was established through Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which mandates the establishment of a memorial, museum or library in honor and in memory of the victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship.

A compendium of the victims’ sacrifices, accessible online, shall also be prepared by the commission.

The law allocated a budget of at least P500 million from the accrued interest of the P10-billion reparation fund provided to the victims.

The allocated budget, currently with the Bureau of Treasury, is now over P600 million due to interest.

Crisanto said they are only waiting for the UP Diliman campus maintenance office to vacate its current office, which is located within the 1.4 hectares of land that the university donated for the Freedom Memorial Museum.

He said construction, which will last for 18 months, may begin this year after the bidding for the contractor is completed.


With another Marcos in Malacañang, Ilagan stressed the need for Filipinos, especially the younger generation, to be “critical and be very aware of the lessons of history.”

He described the current administration as “insidious,” recalling his initial expectation that agencies such as HRVVMC is on a direct “collision course” with the government.

“It’s part of their gameplan… The style does not antagonize many people, but he is able to do what he wants,” Ilagan cautioned.

“Before we know it, (Feb. 25) is no longer a holiday, there are now a lot of changes in the curriculum,” he added.

For Crisanto, whether Feb. 25 is a holiday or not, Filipinos should celebrate the EDSA uprising.

“That’s a time of jubilation. It’s something that was admired by many nations and many people around the world,” he said.

“It’s more than alive. This is the first time in a decade that the celebration, when it was taken out as a national holiday, bloomed (and will be commemorated in many parts of the country). Its spirit is very much alive,” Crisanto added. – Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Janvic Mateo

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