'EDSA belongs to the people'

By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 23 2014 12:50 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2014 08:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution “belongs to the people” and its commemoration should not focus on the key personalities of the historic uprising.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday that the controversy being faced by key people in the revolt should not change the sense of people power among Filipinos.

The Palace official was referring to the charges filed against Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the lawmakers facing plunder in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.

The events leading to the peaceful revolt 28 years ago started on Feb. 22, 1986 when then defense minister Enrile and former Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel Ramos withdrew their support for then president Ferdinand Marcos.

Enrile and Ramos’ move became part of a series of events that catapulted the late Corazon Aquino, mother of incumbent President Aquino, to the presidency after the uprising.

But Valte said this year the Aquino administration is “looking beyond” the historical context of the EDSA revolt to “recognize people who quietly kept the spirit of people power alive” by standing by their fellow Filipinos in times of need.

This, she said, was evident in the wake of the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda and other calamities that struck the country last year.

“The spirit of EDSA becomes alive not just every Feb. 25... but when trials come and we as one nation help our fellowmen,” Valte said.

President Aquino is veering away from tradition as he will mark the 28th anniversary of People Power on Feb. 25 in Cebu instead of Metro Manila where the peaceful uprising happened.

The President will lead the flag raising ceremony and “salubungan” rites in Cebu, which was hit by a strong earthquake last year. He will then fly to Tacloban City, which was devastated by Yolanda.

Valte also said the EDSA People Power Commission prepared activities to commemorate the event, including a wreath laying ceremony at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Taguig City to be led by Ramos.

Aquino will also lead celebrations on Feb. 24 by inspecting recovery projects in Cateel, Davao Oriental, which was hit by Typhoon Pablo, and then hold a “Pulong Bayan” in Loon, Bohol that was also struck by the killer quake last year.

Catholic bishops expressed their support for Aquino’s decision to spend the 28th anniversary of the EDSA revolution with the typhoon and earthquake victims.

Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iniguez said Aquino’s gesture to commemorate the EDSA revolt with Cebuanos “can be a powerful way to call attention to the plight of the victims.”

For Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, the President’s move is a “redeeming gesture,” while Jaro, Iloilo Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said it was good and proper for the Chief Executive to choose Cebu as the venue of the commemoration of the historic event.

Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco hopes that Aquino’s move shows that “the President is convinced that the poor have the power in the transformation of the country, both in economics and politics.”

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad, however, said that while Aquino’s gesture is “a good expression of solidarity and compassion,” his trip to Cebu is already late.

“It took him a long time to visit the northern Cebu victims of Yolanda. It would have been meaningful if he did it right after Yolanda. The action is good but the timing has less impact,” Jumoad said. – With Evelyn Macairan