MANILA, Philippines (Feb 26, 2012) - President Aquino tried yesterday to fire up the Filipinos to keep the spirit of the EDSA revolution alive, while conceding that it is an "unfinished" revolution.
Claiming that the country is still at the "crossroads," the President urged the Filipinos to respond to the moment and avoid being passive observers, adding that there are unfinished business towards lasting reforms 26 years after the first People Power ousted a dictator and restored democracy in 1986.
“This is our time. This is our EDSA. Let’s go, Filipinos,” the President said in a speech at the People Power Monument in Quezon City where key personalities in EDSA 1 relived the events that led to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.
“The country is facing a crossroads: In one direction, a filthy road where the influential hold the scale of justice and those who skirt the law benefit from it. On the other side, the straight path where the rules are clear, justice is impartial and those who committed mistakes are made accountable,” the President said.
Aquino reminded the people that martial law during the Marcos regime had flourished and caused so much suffering because the people had chosen to be silent until 1986.
“Like what was said before: If you’re not going to take action, who else will? If not now, when? Let us act now before everything is too late. Let us act now, to immediately leave the dark past. Let us act now, so a bright future will shine on our race the soonest time possible,” the President said.
“At present, this revolution remains unfinished. Freedom from poverty, freedom from lack of opportunity to improve, freedom from lack of justice, these are what we are fighting for now,” he added.
“It is clear: The miracle of EDSA will be put to waste if we are not going to enrich it and take care of it. Democracy is useless if change does not happen to the majority.”
Aquino stressed the country cannot afford to backslide and let abuses and corruption reign again in government. He said such scenario is possible if the people choose to remain as passive observers.
And while there was no mention of Chief Justice Renato Corona in his speech, Aquino said the judiciary was one of the institutions needing immediate reforms.
Corona is on trial by the Senate acting as impeachment court. He is being accused of various impeachable offenses including showing partiality toward former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in some court decisions and failing to disclose some of his bank accounts and real estate holdings in his statements of assets,liabilities and net worth (SALN).
In his recent speeches, Aquino had publicly derided Corona for allegedly using his position as chief magistrate to save Arroyo from prosecution.
Aquino said that while the country’s system after EDSA may not be perfect, the people now have the means to correct mistakes of the past and to chart their future.
“If you want the old system to persist, go ahead and play deaf. Play blind. Do not speak. But if you agree that there was something wrong in the system that we found and we need to straighten it: Let’s go, let’s protest. Let’s participate. Let’s correct this,” the President said.
Aside from judicial reforms, Aquino said the country should address even more the problems of hunger and poverty.
“After more than two and a half decades, what is now the state of democracy that we fought for in this avenue? Yes, there are no more gags on radio and television. No one controls anymore as to what can be read in newspapers. But are we free from hunger? Are we free from poverty? Are we free from the unscrupulous who deliberately play with our justice system? Sacrifice, honesty and dedication: These are what we should shower our democracy with to make it grow,” he said.
“Unity, concern for others and love of country: These are what we should pour for the legacy of EDSA to bear fruits,” the President said.
Not just Ninoy’s, Cory’s fight
After the events at the People Power Monument, Aquino attended the ceremonies honoring his parents, Benigno Jr. and Corazon, and the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, in Intramuros, Manila.
Aquino’s mother was catapulted to power in 1986 after Marcos was toppled. The assassination of her husband three years earlier – believed to be on orders of Marcos –triggered almost daily street protests against the dictatorship.
“Let us remember: It is everyone’s job to achieve change, not just (the job) of Ninoy and Cory Aquino,” Aquino said.
The President said he hopes to finish the fight of his parents but stressed he would need the people on his side.
He recalled that the Arroyo administration offered in August 2009, or after the death of his mother, to build a monument for her but he and his family refused, noting that what the country needed then was good governance and not a statue.
Aquino’s mother was one of the staunchest critics of the previous administration.
“Now after more than 26 years, it is clear that the fight is not yet over. In the past decade, the country was again enveloped in darkness and now we are fighting this and changing the government,” Aquino said, apparently referring to the Arroyo administration.
AFP reaffirms stand
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reaffirmed its commitment yesterday to keep the spirit of EDSA People Power I alive in hearts of every member of the armed forces.
“The spirit of EDSA I is very much alive in the hearts and minds of our Filipino soldiers. The historic communion of the civilians and military personnel in EDSA 26 years ago was a vital component that led to the success of the People Power bloodless uprising,” AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said.
As a result of EDSA 1, Burgos said the AFP is now a people-centered institution.
The AFP voiced its commitment in response to Aquino’s call for soldiers and officers of the AFP to do their part in preserving democracy.
“Our soldiers will never forget the promise of EDSA, a true democracy. The AFP reaffirms its commitment to help the government in fulfilling that promise. In all its undertakings, your armed forces will continue to exhaust all avenues leading to the path of genuine peace in the country,” Burgos said.
Also present during the rites at the EDSA People Power Monument were Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Fidel Ramos, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Executive Secretary and EDSA People Power Commission chairman Paquito Ochoa Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Palace Communications and Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma, AFP chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome.
The four-day EDSA revolt began on Feb.22 when millions of people responded to the call of Cardinal Sin to converge on the highway to protect Enrile and Ramos – then holed up at camps Crame and Aguinaldo – from Marcos forces sent to arrest the two for plotting a mutiny.
The civilians, including nuns, priests, and children, blocked the paths of tanks and armored vehicles, prompting their occupants to either withdraw or defect to the rebel forces. Many more defections followed until anti-Marcos civilians and rebel soldiers stormed Malacañang, forcing the Marcoses and then AFP chief Gen. Fabian Ver to flee on a US chopper to Hawaii, where the ousted leader stayed in exile until his death in 1989. (From Philstar.com)