Victory to the People

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

Since we are celebrating the 36th anniversary of the People Power Revolution this week, it is but fitting to recall the events that took place on this day in the year 1986.

Allow me to reprint my late father Maximo V. Soliven’s column on that day entitled, “Victory to the People.”

Three “generals” led the Filipino people to victory over the tense-ridden three days of hope and glory – Juan Ponce Enrile, Fidel Ramos – and Field Marshal Jaime Cardinal Sin.

But above all, it was a triumph of people’s power. The scores of thousands of civilians – men, women and children, students, priests and nuns – who rushed to block EDSA and its approaches to prevent tanks, armored cars, pro-Marcos riot units and the Philippine Marines (who became as dread scourge as Hitler’s S.S.) from storming and overwhelming the “New Armed Forces of the People” in Camp Crame, risked their lives during the long hours of confrontation and vigil. It was inspiring that it was the civilian population who protected the military during this stand-off, and made the tanks back down.

These civilians were assaulted, beaten up, tear-gassed in the hour just before dawn when the riot squads, Marines and Marcos forces tried a last desperate attack on Crame. There were many casualties, but their lines stood firm.

There were contradictory reports yesterday that Ferdinand E. Marcos and his son Ilocos Norte Governor Bongbong Marcos had been seen making a dash for the airport for a flight to Guam, although this was denied later in the morning with the appearance of the “family.”

They were not told that Philippine Air Force helicopter gunships were landing in Crame, fully armed, to join the “revolution.” They were not told that a paratroop unit was in the air, ready to launch a parachute assault on Malacañang Palace, only to be called off by Armed Forces Chief of Staff Ramos.

Let us not celebrate too soon. The Marcos “forces” have been regrouping. Brave men and women have been hurt. In the long purgatory of the final battle which started with the election campaign, many who fought have died – some by murder and others after brutal rape and torture. There will be a final reckoning for all these deeds. What we can celebrate now is that the Filipino, robbed of his dignity and self-respect for so long and taunted by his tormentors, has stood up and slugged it out with the tyrant – and won.

God reached out and touched our hearts. And all of us responded.

*      *      *

Government-controlled television from Channel 4 to Channel 7 persisted in broadcasting “old” videotapes of Marcos statements and press conferences. They sowed confusion and retailed funny rumors. The mass media must never be allowed to hoodwink the people again. Utilizing these “crony” media, the corruptors whitewashed their crimes and injustices and made decent men and women, and even slain martyrs, look like fools.

Up to the end, they kept on telling the grossest of lies. And a number of Filipinos – sad to say – continued being fooled.

As an Ilocano, I am proud and grateful that Ilocanos stood up to be counted in this crisis. The two leaders of the people’s ‘revolt’ – Defense Minister Johnny Ponce Enrile and General Eddie Ramos – were both Ilocanos.  Among the first to rally to them at Camp Crame was General Ramon Farolan. He was appointed the new Chief of the Air Force and sent to secure the airport.

Enrile and Ramos even broadcast appeals in Ilocano to their “fellow Ilocanos” in the armed forces and a great many Ilocano officers and soldiers responded to the call. But soldiers from every province and dialect region stood fast with them. The paratroop commander instructing his men to assume “jump positions” was heard on the air, directing his men in Taosug and Maranaw.

But, it can be said without exaggeration, that in the past few weeks we have seen the birth of a nation. The nation started coming together when Ninoy Aquino was buried and close to four million people marched and wept at his funeral. There were no rich, or poor, or tribal feelings in that crowd of mourners, united by a common grief and upheld by a common faith.

Ninoy said that “the Filipino is worth dying for.”  Cory Aquino spearheaded our fight for justice, powered by that faith. Many Filipinos died for that ideal – and those who love have rubbed their eyes and discovered that we are, at long last, one nation.

May it remain that way forever.

*      *      *

Thirty-six years after the first People Power Revolution, we have had five presidents: Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Noynoy Aquino and Rodrigo Duterte. A few of them seem to have forgotten the very cause of the revolution: of overthrowing a dictator. How sad it is that they can easily become turncoats and abandon the Filipinos who fought by their side against Marcos. And now you see their true colors. You wonder what are they fighting for? What do they really want? Is it to help the Filipino people? Or are they just desperately seeking power and money?

We have seen the same faces in government all these years. Today, they continue to want to run for public office but when you look at their track record, what have they accomplished? Why do we continue to suffer? Why are government systems so corrupt? Why are we still poor?

*      *      *

Now let’s talk about the Comelec. How sad it is to see the Comelec this way. They come up with a set of rules and requirements for the candidates and then they don’t live up to their own standards. Sanamagan! Why would citizens even need to file a case on a requirement for candidacy? If the candidate did not meet the requirements, then why is he still allowed to run for public office?

The role of the Comelec is vital. They cannot afford to have corrupt men and women in the commission. As it is, they have broken the morale of the people. The recent stripping off of election tarpaulins and posters is another cause to flare up. Why is the poll agency not able to give proper orientation to the Comelec aides taking down the campaign posters? Why are they not consistent?

How can the Comelec be trusted? Many do not agree with how they have handled matters so far. Social media is on fire with the many observations of their decisions and moves.

As my late father used to quip, “The brain whirls in the midst of this carnival of inconsistency. This election is in its bitter homestretch. But what a waste. What happens if the coming election does not come out credible?”


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