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Remembering EDSA 1: February 22-25, 1986

remembering-edsa-people-power-1986For those asking if February 25, 2013 is a holiday, YES, it’s a national holiday. But whether you’ll be sad or happy depends on whether you’re still in school. While EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary is a national holiday, it’s only for schools. It means no classes for students. It also means it’s a regular working day if you’re no longer a student. Gone are the days when February 25 was a national holiday for all.

What was the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution (EDSA 1) all about?

EDSA in 1986 was a nationwide civil uprising against then dictator President Ferdinand E. Marcos, with President Corazon “Cory” Aquino succeeding in a revolutionary government.

edsa 1cEDSA 1 is extra-constitutional. EDSA 1 involves the “exercise of the people power of revolution which overthrew the whole government”. The Aquino government was the result of a successful revolution (although a peaceful one) by the sovereign people. No less than the Freedom Constitution (Proclamation No. 3) declared that the Aquino government was installed through a direct exercise of the power of the Filipino people “in defiance of the provisions of the 1973 Constitution, as amended.

The original People Power, the one which inspired the whole world and became a model for peaceful transitions of governments, was the culmination of the years of protest against the government of President Ferdinand Marcos.

edsa 1aThe protests were already existing before September 21, 1972, the date when President Marcos declared Martial Law throughout the Philippines. Many people died as a result of the abuses by the military. Many opposition personalities were arrested. One of those arrested was Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. Ninoy became a unifying force of the people’s opposition against Marcos.

Ninoy was allowed to be released from jail to undergo a heart bypass in the United States. He was warned not to go back to the Philippines. Ninoy was assasinated on August 21, 1983, as he was going down the plane upon his return to the Philippines. Instead of diffusing the mounting unrest against Marcos, the assasination of Ninoy only served to add more fuel to the highly combustible and raw emotions against Marcos.

edsa 1bTo put some semblance of legitimacy to his government, President Marcos called for a snap election in February 1986. His opponent in the elections was a simple housewife with no government experience. The opposition Presidential candidate goes by the name of Corazon “Cory” Aquino, the wife of Ninoy. Some say the 1986 Presidential election was the most corrupt and deceitful election in Philippine history.

On February 15, 1986, the Batasang Pambansa declared Marcos as the winner, with 10,807,197 votes as against Aquino’s 9,291,761. The rest of the country, however, was convinced that massive cheating marred the elections. The tally of the accredited poll watcher, the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), was 7,835,070 votes for Cory and 7,053,068 votes for Marcos.

On February 22, 1986, a group of renegade soldiers led by Juan Ponce Enrile, then Defense Minister, and Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, then Vice-Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, made a public declaration that they are withdrawing support from the government. They holed up at Camp Aguinaldo, along EDSA. Knowing that they will be annihilated by the superior forces of Marcos. Minister Enrile and Gen. Ramos called for the people’s help.

edsa 1dThe late Jaime Cardinal Sin, then Catholic Archbishop of Manila, aired his appeal through Radio Veritas, for the people to support Gen. Ramos and Enrile.

And help they came. By the thousands, and towards the end, an estimated 6 million were on the streets.

Between February 22 to February 25, the people flocked to EDSA, facing tanks with nothing but prayers. They offered flowers and food to the battle-equipped government soldiers. Helicopters and fighter planes flew overhead. The people, though scared, stood their ground.

President Marcos left Malacanang on February 25, heading for Hawaii.

And so the world witnessed the People Power.

“The Filipino is worth dying for.”

by Ninoy Aquino
a Philippine Hero

The Filipino is worth dying for - Ninoy

Original posting here

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Remembering Ninoy Aquino

When Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. died 28 years ago, he showed how dying for the love of country is never a defeat but a glorious victory. He believed that in an endeavor to restore democracy in the Philippine government, one cannot let his fear of getting killed lead him towards inaction.

Because of his family’s political background, entering politics came early for Ninoy. In 1967, he became the youngest senator and the only candidate of the Liberal Party to make it to senate. He was then considered by President Ferdinand Marcos and his allies as their greatest threat, but unfortunately for them, Ninoy was not intimated by their number. He bravely exposed the anomalies carried out by the administration and warned the public of Marcos’ corrupt plans during his stay in office.

Not long after, Martial Law was declared in the country and Ninoy was one of the first arrested. As the opposition leader against Marcos, he was imprisoned for false charges of murder, illegal possession of firearms, and explicit subversion. Even under detention, Ninoy continued his plea for Marcos to step down and for a peaceful regime to take over. After seven years behind bars, however, Ninoy experienced heart attacks and was allowed by the Marcoses to have medical treatments abroad under conditions that he would return and would not speak against the Marcos regime during his stay in the United States.

In 1983, Ninoy decided to come back to the Philippines to talk to Marcos regarding the worsening political situation of the country. He knew very well that his return posed several dangers but he was willing to take the risk for the sake of his fellowmen. Despite threats from Marcos because of his continuous political involvement, Ninoy was ready to face the consequences of his actions in the struggle to attain freedom once again.

Ninoy’s assassination right after stepping down from the plane proved how Marcos was afraid of being conquered by the enemy and of losing the power he held over the entire land. It was a clear proof of injustice showing that fighting for change always comes with a cost. Having fought for his principles until the very end, Ninoy is indeed a martyr in the truest sense of the word.

Had he not been assassinated, Ninoy could have made a good president – a leader who puts his people before anything else and acts upon the boundaries of justice. Surveys during his time showed that Filipinos actually wanted Ninoy for president after Marcos’ term ended. However, every politician has his own detractors and Ninoy was no exception. Even with his clean intentions, many saw him as a representative of the familial elites who are still dominating Philippine politics today. Whether that was the case, it still cannot be denied that his assassination led to the fall of a dictator who abused the rights of the Filipino people.

As the country celebrates Ninoy Aquino Day, may we not only consider it as another holiday but instead honor Ninoy’s heroic deeds as one of the country’s most influential leaders. Especially now that our new president is his very own son, it is crucial to look back on the past and understand what it really means to be a good example. President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, albeit having been in office for only more than a year now, must already remember that family ties will only take him so far and thus he should not rely too much on both his parents’ legacy.

Indeed, the Filipinos are worth dying for in the same way that they are worth living for. At the end of the day, we all point back to Ninoy’s heroism for starting change in the country and putting the Philippine government back to a democratic state. It might have been through rough roads over the recent years, but as long as you remain our hero, we will continue working together for the betterment of the country. You were, you are, and will always be the Filipinos’ inspiration to fight and never stop fighting.

By Cy Yambao
updated for 2011

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Events, News, Issues & Politics, People

 

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