Letters to the Editor

The enduring message of EDSA

- Alberto G. Romulo -

Secretary of Foreign Affairs

On the occasion of the commemoration of the 25th Anniversary

of the EDSA Filipino People Power Revolution

With the Diplomatic Corps

Manila, 22 February 2011

MANILA, Philippines - His Excellency, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams Excellencies, It seemed only yesterday when we were in EDSA. Yet that was twenty-five years ago. Senator Butz Aquino, our guest of honor was leading the march. I remember hearing the voice of Cardinal Sin on Radio Veritas urging us to join Butz who was marching from Isetann to Camp Aguinaldo. I also recall General Ramos saying,

“Butz you should be a General because you are leading the people.”

After EDSA, I was a member of President Aquino’s cabinet as her Secretary of Budget. I am now a member of the cabinet of President Benigno S. Aquino III as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Today we have the special pleasure of commemorating the EDSA People Power Revolution with our friends from the international community.

I would, therefore, wish to convey to our distinguished guests the appreciation of the President and of my own for joining us in this important celebration.

The intense drama of EDSA was played out in the Philippines, but it was witnessed all over the world. And the bravery and fortitude of the Filipino People rallied the whole world to their side.

The shining example of the Philippines inspired nations yearning for freedom everywhere and forewarned tyrants seeking to perpetuate their regimes.

As Time Magazine said in its 1987 edition naming the late President Cory Aquino Woman of the Year:

“By reviving the promise of democracy without bloodshed, all too rare in the past, the Philippine revolution also held up a candle of hope in some of the world’s darker corners.”

The wave of democracy generated by the Filipino People Power Revolution reverberated through the years in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and South Africa. Even the democratic gains made in the Middle East, the events that have had us all transfixed these past few weeks, are so reminiscent of EDSA despite the passage of a quarter century.

The Filipino People Power Revolution stood for the triumph of the human spirit and love of freedom over the abuses and excesses of dictatorship.

EDSA reflected in many ways the zeitgeist of its epochal decade, when the Cold War was ending together with its ossified structures, including the discredited strongman rule.

For so long, authoritarianisms seemed to be a fixed feature of the geopolitical landscape. They existed on both sides of the ideological divide and, to be perfectly candid, they enjoyed the support of their respective superpower sponsors.

The Filipino people, however, showed decisively that dictatorship, in fact, had feet of clay. EDSA truly relegated a despised autocratic regime to the dustbin of history. A page was turned on a dark past, and the Filipino People set themselves on the path of self-liberation and empowerment.

And as previewed at EDSA, the Cold War ended not because of the tilting of the balance of power or the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Communism in Europe simply imploded when long-imprisoned peoples rose to exercise their sovereign right to choose their own leaders and their own national destinies.

Though Filipino People Power had a profound resonance globally, its roots were firmly planted on the native soil and the national soul of the Philippines.

EDSA was the post-Cold War flowering of a long Filipino tradition of revolt against tyranny. Conscious of their revolutionary heritage, Filipinos of all political colors took to the streets to restore their stolen liberties.

On the other hand, EDSA’s most notable hallmark, its profound commitment to non-violence, sprang from the religious traditions of this country. Who can forget the timeless images of priests and nuns leading the people in devout prayers to halt the armored might of a brutal regime before the eyes of an astonished world?

This rejection of violence was critically important. It saved the nation from bloodshed that might have unleashed cycles of conflict that have been the bane of revolutions elsewhere.

The democratic Revolution was consolidated after EDSA by the enlightened administration of President Cory. She courageously defended the Republic from coup attempts and insurgency, thereby saving Philippine democracy.

The administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III is now the proud torch bearer of the democratic principles bequeathed by EDSA. Under his leadership, the Philippines has rediscovered its moorings as a free country and its destiny as a democracy.

With freedom comes responsibility. Today, the Philippines is a leading responsible global nation. Despite economic limits, the Philippines has been - among other things - a major supporter of UN peacekeeping missions.

We fully intend to maintain and expand this role.

The Philippines is active in the United Nations and other international efforts to boost global development, increase employment, expand trade and investment, improve health, enhance food and energy security, and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

With as much as a tenth of our population working and living overseas, the Philippines realizes fully well the importance of international cooperation. The solutions to many of our most pressing problems - from global terrorism to poverty, from nuclear non-proliferation to saving the environment, from transnational migration to responsible globalization - must depend on the positive collective endeavors of countries and peoples.

The Philippines, as a democratic country that seeks mutual understanding, respect and cooperation with all nations, is fully committed to these ends.

The Filipino People have met and overcome many challenges in their determination to secure and strengthen their freedoms since EDSA. If we have learned any lesson in these struggles, it is that democracy is always a work in progress.

The work of democracy calls for care and commitment and persistence. It requires an open society, open debate and an open government. It is the national dialogue and the exchange of ideas of a people fully engaged in the public enterprise that ensures the soundness and endurance of democracy in the long run.

The torch of freedom is passed through many hands, generation by generation. No single administration, or era, will find all the answers to all the questions on how best to make liberty last and prosper.

But the journey remains the same. We build on the work of those who came before us and, in turn, we entrust our legacy to those who will follow our steps.

And so it is with the inheritance of EDSA. The Filipino People Power Revolution will continue to inspire our unending quest to broaden and consolidate the freedoms of our people as an integral part of our progress, as a daily challenge to our capabilities and as a path to the future we seek to build and realize.

It is in this spirit that we should remember and celebrate EDSA.

vuukle comment












  • Latest
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!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with