33 years after EDSA, have we become a better nation?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - February 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Are we better off today than in 1986?

Today, we commemorate the peoples' liberation from the two decades of oppression, exploitation and tyranny, and the salvation of our country from the clutches of the dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos, who ruled the nation, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, by virtue of Proclamation 1081, under which he issued decrees, without check and balance. Those were the darkest years in our history, after the Second World War, where lives, liberty, and properties were taken without due process of law. There was no redress for grievances, no writs of habeas corpus. There was no Senate or House of Representative in the real sense of the term. Judicial independence was under the shadows of reasonable doubt. And Filipinos lived in constant fear and uncertainty.

The millennials today do not really have an idea of what life was like under the twenty years of Marcos dictatorship. For the baby boomers and the Generations X and Y, we recall today our liberation after the years when we suffered a lot under Martial Law. Many of us were arrested, detained, some were tortured and traumatized, others were raped, abused, and dehumanized. A good number had gone missing. They either died or were summarily executed, or have gone underground to join the New People’s Army. The rest have collaborated with the dictator's minions and subalterns and even becoming the underlings of the oppressor’s many tentacles of repression and tyranny. In 1986, 33 years ago, the people revolted and the dictator was ousted.

The question begging to be asked now is: Have we become a better nation and a better people than we were 33 years ago? In a sense perhaps, we gained our freedom. We are no longer afraid to exercise our freedom of speech and of expression. We are no longer apprehensive that some Metrocom soldiers would come knocking on our doors in the wee hours of the night in order to snatch away our sons and fathers, our brothers, and even sisters, on suspicion of being subversives. We are no longer cowering in fear as we hide inside our houses while raids were conducted without search and arrest warrants. We no longer whisper in the dark our pains and anxieties because none of our loved ones are detained in Fort Bonifacio and in many other detention centers around the country.

However, the freedom that liberated us is the very same freedom that enslaves our people today from excesses in vices, immorality, crimes, and hedonism. Today's generations have found freedom to engage in excessive drug addictions, sexual perversions, and crimes against persons and properties. The freedom that we gained in EDSA is the one that gives opportunities to our politicians to plunder the national coffers, and rob the nation of its resources in broad daylight and under the guises of many names like pork barrels, congressional insertions, DAP, or PDAF. Different names for the same aberrations of greed and avarice, of insatiable thirst for wealth and power. Today's freedom has been transformed into a license for plunder and abuse of power.

Singapore's founder, Lee Kwan Yew, once said to Filipinos: “What you need is not too much freedom, but much discipline.” Yes, we are a nation of great people. But our abuse of freedom is destroying our nation and is inflicting much damage to our honor as a nation and as a people. Today, 33 years after EDSA, we should come to our senses and change our national paradigm.



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