MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - President Benigno Aquino signed into law a measure that finally recognizes the human rights abuses committed during the Marcos regime and will give compensation to human rights victims during martial law.
Aquino signed Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 at the People Power monument coinciding with the 27th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.
Aquino thanked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and other legislators for passing the measure.
However, Enrile, an EDSA veteran, did not attend the program.
“Tiniyak nilang hindi man maibabalik ang panahon na ninakaw sa mga biktima ng Batas Militar, masisiguro naman ang pagkilala ng estado sa kanilang pinagdaanan at nang sa gayon ay mailapit sila sa tuluyang paghihilom ng mga sugat ng nakaraan,” Aquino said in his speech.
Veterans of the revolution met again at EDSA to reenact the events of February 1986. Former President Fidel Ramos, then AFP Vice Chief of Staff, and former Senator Butz Aquino led the Salubungan, the convergence of civilians, police and military at EDSA.
A statue of Our Lady, credited for the peaceful revolution, was carried by Father Arnold Abelardo who was seated on top of a military tank.
Yellow flowers were distributed as it was in 1986 as a military chopper dropped yellow confetti.
The Madrigal Singers then led the singing of “Magkaisa,” one of the revolution’s theme songs.
Ramos and Butz Aquino reenacted the “victory jump,” a reminder of the crowd’s celebration when told that Marcos had left the Palace.
President Aquino called on the people to remember the lessons of EDSA and to put the country’s interest ahead of one’s own.
“Makakamtan lamang ang mga pangarap kung hindi iniisip ng nasa baba ang bigat ng kanyang karga; kung hindi iniisip ng pangalawa na iba ang kukuha sa pabuya; at kung ang pipitas naman ng banderitas ay bukas-palad na ibabahagi sa lahat ang tagumpay. Isa po iyan sa mga aral ng EDSA, at patuloy ang halaga nito,” he said.
He also cited the gathering of crowds in the provinces in 1986, saying that the revolution also took place outside of Metro Manila.
Aquino took pride of the country’s economic gains. But he also called for vigilance to prevent a repeat of past abuses.
“Mulat po ako: may kakaharapin pa tayong mga suliranin, at hindi pa rin nga po nauubos ang mga balakid sa ating tuwid na daan. Malinaw po, nariyan pa rin ang mga nakinabang sa nakaraang status quo. Kung madadapa po tayo; kung bibitaw tayo sa isa’t isa; kung magpapadaig tayo sa tukso ng pagkakanya-kanya—tiyak na sasalisi sila at magsasamantala,” he said.
The program ended with the singing of “Bayan Ko.”