This country will always be free

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2013 - 12:00am

The past 115 years of Philippine history is a story of the Filipino struggles for freedom. Independence Day is a good time to remember those struggles and triumphs of the Filipino people

 The first was against the Spanish colonizers which led to the declaration of independence on June 12, 1898. Then came the Philippine American War which was both a revolution and a peaceful, political struggle for freedom against American imperialism. Then came the Japanese invaders and the guerrilla wars that ended only with the downfall of the imperial dream in 1945.

The next fight began when Marcos suspended civil rights and imposed military rule throughout the country. It is estimated that more than 30,000 opposition figures, including Senator Ninoy Aquino, journalists, student and labor leaders were detained at military compounds.

During the 14-year duration of the Marcos dictatorship, thousands more were either imprisoned or simply disappeared. Among the principal implementers of the martial law proclamation was Francisco “Kit” Tatad, then Minister of Public Information who read the martial law proclamation on television. Another one was then Minister of Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile whose alleged ambush the week before was used as an evidence of so-called lawlessness in the country.

In each of these four struggles, the Filipino people reasserted their love for freedom and their willingness to sacrifice lives in the pursuit of liberty.  During each crusade, the country found heroes who would serve as inspiration to the rest of the country.

The Marcos dictatorship led to resistance from all sectors of society from the left to the right of center. The prisons included names like Chino Roces, the icon of journalism, Victor Corpus, Army officer turned NPA commander, Geny Lopez, scion of the Lopez business empire and head of ABS-CBN, Senator Jose Diokno, Senator Benigno Aquino and many thousands more.

This crusade for freedom had many heroes. But it was Ninoy Aquino and his martyrdom that served as the spark that ignited the People Power Revolution. On February 15, 1981, two and half years before his return, Ninoy gave a speech in Los Angeles where he said:

“I believe that real suffering bravely borne melts even a heart of stone. I want to prove to Mr. Marcos that not only comfort and material things are the demands of the flesh, that there is an indomitable spirit that will be willing to take any sacrifices for our people. I shall therefore go back to the Philippines....I believe that when a government becomes corrupt there is no other place for a good citizen but to be in jail. And therefore I shall wear willingly again the hair shirt of imprisonment.”

In this speech, Ninoy added another dimension to the crusade for freedom – the battle against corruption as part of fighting for the greater good of the Filipino people. This link between democracy and the fight against corruption is manifested in the 2012 Independence Day speech of P-Noy:

“The whole country bore witness to the impeachment trial of Mr. Corona, the former Chief Justice.... it was a process that strengthened our democracy. After all, Filipinos have a right to know the truth, and the right to know that the democratic system is alive and working in the Philippines. It was a process that once again underscored to all public servants that the power lent to them by Juan de la Cruz comes with responsibility and accountability.

Perhaps it may be that corruption became widespread not only because the numbers of the power-hungry grew, but also because the numbers of the apathetic and the silent grew. And so the beacon of democracy went dim, because no one took the initiative to nurture its flame.”

Today, in many sectors of society, there are those who are yearning for a return to the “good old days” after P-Noy steps down. There are businessmen whose profitability depends on tax evasion and smuggling; irresponsible elements of media who barter stories for influence and monetary gain; politicians who want to return to bribery and budgeting for roads and bridges that will never exist.

Then there are those who want to rewrite history Philippine and claim that Marcos was never a dictator and was an honest president.

For those who have fought so hard to regain freedom, and for those who are fighting to institutionalize the rule of law in this country, the words of Corazon Aquino in her 1999 speech are worth remembering:

“We are a peaceful people but a freedom loving and moral nation as well. Right and wrong are beyond political calculation.

Our children must see that stealing does not cease to be wrong because the loot is successfully hidden. Our children must see that the mastermind is not innocent because his hired guns are afraid to finger him. Our children must see that might does not make right but that given time and determination right is irresistible.

We will not surrender the guarantees of freedom and good government for which we paid so dearly.

We will not allow those who plundered our country to return to power no matter who they think their best friend is....

This is a fight against a 14 year dictatorship and a legacy that refuses to die.....

Let me say it now: there will never be a Marcos restoration, not by hook or by crook. This country will always be free and it will always be the country of the People Power Revolution.”

The Philippine struggles for freedom have always triumphed because of the courage and determination of its people. It is good that President Aquino reminded us of this in his Independence Day speech yesterday when he asked how would we answer if Rizal and Bonifacio, Ninoy and Cory asked each of us, what have we done for our country?

*      *      *

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with