MANILA - Veterans of the 1986 EDSA People Power on Tuesday recalled moments of the country's bloodless revolt, saying Filipinos need to continually commemorate the event to combat historical revisionism.
Former Vice President Jejomar Binay - a human rights lawyer during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos - urged other EDSA veterans to keep attending EDSA anniversary celebrations to help millennials learn the “true” events in 1986.
“Nandito tayo at sinasabi natin sa mga kabataan na may nangyaring EDSA, na nagtapos doon sa diktador na yung mga pamamahala ay naging mali,” Binay said in a 34th EDSA anniversary gathering in his bailiwick Makati.
“Muntik nang maraming maniwala na nakalimutan na ang EDSA kaya nagkasundo-sundo kami na ipagpatuloy ang pag gunita nito,” he said.
Last month, Marcos’ son, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., earlier called for a revision in Philippine textbooks, where his father's repressive regime is retold as period marred with corruption, military abuse, and human rights violations.
Former Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said those who “survived” the Marcos regime and the bloodless revolution that ended it should “tirelessly” tell millennials about their experiences under martial law.
“We have to always be alert kasi pag hindi ka alert, yung kabila, talagang they will revise history. So we always have to say, ‘That is not history. This is history,’” Osmeña said.
“We will not be here for long. In 5 to 10 years time, we are all gone and the young will have to take over,” he said.
The youth should never forget that there was a time when Filipinos “were in EDSA ready to give their all” for the democracy and freedom the country enjoys today, former Sen. Rene Saguisag said in a separate interview.
“Importante na magtipon-tipon pra ipaalala sa mga millennials na there was one proud shining moment in our country’s history when the whole world on cable TV watched with shock and awe the scene of nuns, ordinary people stopping tanks with their rosary, and entire families were in EDSA ready to give their all,” he said.
“I know na nangangaunti na lang kaming mga beterano ng EDSA... But the work goes on, the cause still lives and the dream shall never die,” he said.
VALUING THE 1986 EDSA REVOLUTION
Binay also criticized the Duterte administration for supposedly downplaying the importance of the 1986 People Power.
“Tamang-tama itong pag gunita ngayon dahil hindi dapat malimutan na unti-unting pinipilit, hindi na binibigyang halaga ng pamahalaan ang araw na ito,” the former vice president said.
Prior to Duterte, incumber presidents and other high-ranking government officials would usually attend a mass gathering at the People Power Monument in Quezon City, where Filipinos who were abducted and tortured during the Marcos dictatorship were honored.
In 2017, the Palace said Duterte will skip his first EDSA Anniversary as President and will hold a “quiet” commemoration because the administration wants to “move on” from the past.
“Nalulungkot ako na with the passage of years nawawalan na ng emphasis itong panahon na ito,” Saguisag said.
“The mother of the President (Duterte) was the head of the Yellow Friday movement in Davao kaya hindi natin alam ano nangyari dito sa anak (Duterte),” he said.
Duterte is a vocal supporter of the Marcos family. In several public events, he acknowledged Marcos’ daughter, then former Ilocos Norte governor and now senator Imee Marcos as the lone provincial chief who backed his presidential bid in 2016.
Months after winning the presidency, Duterte was criticized for allowing the former dictator to be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery, where several martial law victims were laid to rest.
Commemorating the 1986 People Power will remind the public that they can “change bad governance not through violence but through collective prayer,” Binay said, recalling how protesters held vigils along Metro Manila’s main highway to call for Marcos’ ouster.
“Ang tunay na kabutihan ng tunay na demokrasya ay may bumabatikos, may nagsasabi sa taong bayan ng mga kamaliang nangyayari,” he said.
“It is worth commemorating. It is a fact that we even set the example for the world at that time for non-violent upheaval and we succeeded in it,” Osmeña said.