EDSA I

Dreaming of EDSA

Two images may be evoked when considering the event called EDSA-1 in today’s context.

The first has to do with past atrocities committed prior to the event that led to local mobilization and international pressure for the autocrat President Marcos to step down just as many in the Arab people have witnessed take place in their own countries. The second has to do with accusations of present day corruption, impunity and dictatorship by stealth that either camp on the Aquino-Arroyo divide have been hurling at each other.

As far as the image of the past is concerned, many victims still await closure to the dark episode in their lives and the nation’s history. There can be no more appropriate response to their plight but a recognition and apology from the perpetrators of the suffering they have caused. Barring that, the billions of pesos in escrow or in the form of stocks held by those deemed to have illegally acquired it awaiting legislation for their proper distribution to the victims would be a nice token.

The Palace has demonstrated that it can muster a third of the House behind a petition which those signing weren’t even given the opportunity to read to impeach one of the highest officials of the land. If it can use its moral authority to muster support for prosecuting someone in this way, it can perhaps devote a similar amount of effort towards enabling a final judgement to be carried out through legislation. After all its Righteous Path seeks to right the injustices of the past.

In keeping with the memory of EDSA, what better way to honor the lives of those who sacrificed so much to restore our freedoms?

As far as the image of the present is concerned, the picture is more muddled. They say that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Care however must be taken that our sense of vigilance does not turn into vigilantism. The strategy and tactics employed by the present government to browbeat the appointees of its predecessor into either submission or expulsion seem a bit heavy handed. This is true particularly when statements are construed towards the overthrow of decisions made by legal institutions through the “will of the people” in order to produce “the rule of law”. If Mr Marcos used the threat of force to intimidate the judiciary into submission and legitimating his “constitutional dictatorship”, the threat of a people power revolt is being held over the heads of the senator-judges of the impeachment court to tow the administration’s line.

The pursuit of anti-corruption measures is an honourable past-time, but restraint must be shown so that it does not degenerate into a vendetta mission that weakens political and legal institutions in the process. We must remember that EDSA-1 occurred because the Marcos regime was either unwilling or unable to entertain or accept the leader of the opposition’s offer of national reconciliation and an orderly transition process through a power sharing deal. EDSA-1 culminated in the overthrow of Mr Marcos and the formation of a revolutionary interim government to lay the groundwork for a democratic transition. In the wake of their overthrow, its loyalists sought to marshal forces to stage a counter-revolution to restore the old order.

The present situation is quite different. After handing over power in an orderly fashion, the previous dispensation in appointing its proxies to constitutional bodies sought to stage a defensive rather than offensive move against those in the present one. In other words, it is not seeking to overthrow the current government, nor destabilize it. It merely seeks a kind of immunity from prosecution. The last line of defence it has, the twelve justices out of fifteen appointed by Mrs Arroyo, has been rattled by the current proceedings in and outside of the Senate. Ironically, the fate of the country’s young legal and institutional traditions rests on the shoulders of a man that was once the architect of their subversion under martial law.

If EDSA-1 was the result of our political leadership failing to come together to form a power-sharing government of national reconciliation, today our democratic institutions are being stressed to the point of breaking once again with the ratcheting up of rhetoric by both sides of the political divide. So much has been invested by the administration in going after the Arroyos and their proxies to the point that the outcome of the impeachment trial has become an all-or-nothing proposition.

There is a tendency to romanticize the people power revolution of 1986, to appropriate the imagery, the language and the memory of this event for political purposes today. We need to recall however that the assassination of the president’s father in 1983 and subsequent events caused the country to plunge into an abyss that led to a lost decade economically. This came about because those in power failed to recognize how tenuous their grip on power was and see their interests better served by accommodating their opponents.

The extreme polarization that characterized that period has returned. It is a reminder to all of how contentious politics is in this country. People power is resurfacing to break the stalemate. This is putting a heavy burden on the institutions charged with arbitrating the situation and the humans that preside over them. Ironically, the deciding votes could be cast by an Enrile, a Cayetano, a Marcos, and an Estrada. Will they be intimidated by the threat of people power?

While the president claims to represent the will of the people and the chief justice represents the judiciary whose authority is legitimated by the constitution ratified by the people. The senator-judges whose mandate comes from the people, the same national electorate that voted in the president, are torn between their sympathies for public opinion and their obligation to the constitutional and legal processes. Despite all the coverage surrounding their chamber, their position is increasingly becoming unenviable.

So returning to the commemoration of EDSA, there are two ways to think about it. We can view it as the victory of people over tyranny, a victory which could be made complete by compensating those stripped of their human and property rights under the Marcos regime using the amassed hidden wealth of the dictator and his cronies, retrieving any of that wealth that got plundered on the way to its intended beneficiaries, and punishing those who did the plundering.

Another way of viewing it is as the result of a failure by our political elite to come to an amicable settlement that would serve the interests of the country and provide an orderly transfer of power. In this vein, the current rupture in our politics may be viewed as another failure by our leaders to work out their differences within the confines of our institutional processes, the very same processes that the people in EDSA-1 fought to restore.

"Closure"

After more than twenty-five years after the first People Power uprising that sent Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies into exile, the pursuit of justice has ended with the full restoration of the families of the former dictator and his allies.

The aging solon and former street parliamentarian Sen Joker Arroyo was like a lonely voice crying out in the wilderness upon hearing the flacid “lukewarm” remarks of President Aquino in reaction to the Supreme Court ruling favoring his formerly estranged uncle over the government in the case involving about twenty billion pesos (nearly half a billion dollars) worth of shares in San Miguel Corporation one of the country’s biggest conglomerates that he purchased during the dictatorial regime under dubious circumstances.

As often is the case when dealing with ill-gotten wealth of crooks in government who operate in a lawyerly fashion, the labyrinth of transactions make it difficult to pin down the accused. Hiding as they do behind the corporate veil, their ability to weave through the legal system in order to extract wealth from the collective pot contributed by the lowliest in society allows them to go unpunished and even be vindicated by the legal system.

And so as in the case of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr. former czar of the coconut industry under Mr Marcos, it appears that the scales of justice have finally tipped in his favor. Having previously lost his case in the anti-graft court the Sandiganbayan, he has won on appeal to the Supreme Court. Not all justices voted to clear him though. The senior ranking dissenter pronounced the majority decision the biggest joke of the century to be visited upon our countrymen.

Indeed. And as for the Marcoses their restoration was cemented in the last election with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. winning a seat in the upper house from where he probably intends to stage a presidential bid in 2016. A hero’s burial for his father’s remains has been winning support in the lower house. This probably reflects the mood in the wider body politic to forgive the former dictator for his failings. President Aquino himself put this possibility on the agenda by commissioning the vice president to look into it.

During his election campaign, President Aquino said that he wanted to bring some final resolution to the remains of the EDSA I struggle. It appears now what that closure he spoke of means for the victims of the Martial Law and the perpetrators of the injustices under it. Incidentally, it will be interesting to see how the case of Hacienda Luisita Incorporated owned and run by the Aquino-Cojuangco clans but subjected to agrarian reform will be handled by this Supreme Court. Will the final ruling there bring about “closure” to that case as it has in this instance? Would that be the final form of appeasement between the rivaling factions that have governed our country for so long (and will continue to in the foreseeable future)?

For those who joined the struggle to restore democracy to the nation like Sen Joker Arroyo, it will grate them to see the very liberties and freedoms they fought and paid for with their blood, sweat and tears being adroitly used by those who formerly suppressed them to frustrate the cause of those who suffered under their foul treatment, to have history re-written, to find the same legal minds that defended their tormentors receiving honor and prestige, occupying positions of power and authority, and for their countrymen to look on indifferently.

Unfortunately, this is probably how the cause of freedom will end: not with a bang, but a whimper.

Are we really free?

I’ve encountered some people who claim that with EDSA 1, we recovered democracy but not freedom. I don’t know what their definition of freedom is but here’s what good ol’ Webster says:

Well, what we are currently enjoying in our land sounds like freedom to me.

Let’s look at the internet, the virtual land where freedom may truly exist. Yuxiyou.net published an interesting infographics on censorship on the internet and see how our country is faring.

Yep that is indeed blue which stands for “no censorship.” Do they think that if we didn’t gain freedom 25 years ago we will be enjoying this status? More like we’ll be emo black like China where there is pervasive censorship. Not only do we have freedom online but we are truly free.

We have freedom of speech.

We have freedom of expression.

We have freedom of the press.

And we have freedom to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

All of these we didn’t have before EDSA People Power.

The Politics of Reform

Like mother like son?

The Asia Sentinel at the end of last week posted a piece entitled The Philippines’ Tentative President. It makes the point that as he enters his ninth month in office P-Noy has yet to demonstrate that “he has the will to use his popularity and the size of his mandate to make tough decisions.”

Such a piece is timely as we approach the 25th anniversary of the first people power revolution of 1986, as comparisons are now being drawn between the president and his mother. She was generally regarded as a weak leader although the generals who served under her embattled presidency and helped her stare down numerous coup attempts would challenge such a view.

Be that as it may, the Sentinel piece highlights the fact that with his penchant for posing as the “nice guy” P-Noy risks being perceived as a do-nothing president unwilling to roll-up his sleaves and tackle reforms that would pit him against very powerful interests.

His stance towards the issue of family planning is illustrative of this point. After promising support for the passage of the Reproductive Health or RH Bill that has languished in Congress for the last 13 years, his spokesman announced early this month that it would not be listed among the priority measures he would endorse to Congress on the 28th of February.

His intention as explained by Palace spokesman Lacierda is to introduce a new draft bill maybe later in the year following extensive consultations with the Catholic hierarchy. This of course assumes that the current RH Bill making its way through the plenary sessions of Congress will not pass. His refusal to meet with adherents of the bill further cements the view that he has closed off all access for those seeking reform to himself.

Indeed the vascillation of Aquino-II in the RH Bill can be likened to that of Aquino-I in the enactment of the CARL (or Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law). Just as Aquino-I allowed for the watering down of the bill that sought to address the issue of asset inequality (CARL), Aquino-II seems to have acceeded to the more conservative and powerful interests in the country to water down a bill seeking to address the issue of human capital inequality (RH Bill).

The saying, “what are we in power for” which symbolizes the politics of corruption and collusion in this country went to the root of P-Noy’s popularity. The country in the last election was craving for more honest leadership. When it comes to honesty in government, none can come close to the Aquino brand.

Just as Aquino-I allowed for the watering down of the bill that sought to address the issue of asset inequality (CARL), Aquino-II seems to have acceeded to the more conservative and powerful interests in the country to water down a bill seeking to address the issue of human capital inequality (RH Bill).

But to run an honest government is not the sole purpose of the reform-minded leader. The point of power is to wield it to do “some good”, namely to restructure incentives that currently align themselves to bring about perverse outcomes. Currently, in the debate over reproductive health, the Catholic Church as a corporate entity wants to preserve its monopoly of ideas when it comes to the issue of family planning.

The current structure of incentives makes it impractical or improbable for poor couples to make the best informed decision with regard to the size of their family and to stick to that decision. Studies have shown that particularly in poor families the gap between the size that they want (small) and the size that they actually end up with (large) is significant given the present levels of support available to them in this regard.

The bishops with their vast resources have issued veiled threats against the president on the eve of the EDSA-1 commemorations against changing the status quo. Having blocked the enactment of the RH Bill for so long, they want to see a version that agrees with their views. In the president they seem to have found a willing accomplice.

In engaging in the politics of reform, there were so many possibilities open to a president with exceedingly high popularity ratings. He could have set the agenda by opening a debate over reproductive health. He could have led the debate by using his office as a bully pulpit from which to educate the public with respect to the issues. He could have leveraged the sizable majority that supports the bill and could have built alliances to act as a counter-weight to the vested interests (the Artists for the RH Bill being one of the potential members of such an alliance).

Instead the president has chosen to remain within the fold of the dominant bloc. The thing about dominant groups is that they are often in the minority. Their ability to concentrate power to themselves comes from their ability to mobilize resources to help their cause compared to the majority that are often inchoate and disorganized.

The only way to move from a closed society to an open one is to democratize access to information and power. A bill which seeks to improve access to information and empower individual households among the poorest especially with respect to family planning and parenthood deserves to be prioritized. The advocates of it deserve a seat at the table.

Rather than closing off access to his office, the president should guarantee it. Only in this manner will policy development be allowed to proceed in a rational and considered manner. Only in this manner will the politics of reform be given new life.

When straight emits the odor of crooked

When straight emits the odor of crooked
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star

There is a paid TV ad titled Ituwid natin (Let’s straighten it out) that has been airing on ABS-CBN TV Patrol and Umagang kay ganda (Good Morning). It is hosted by showbiz personality Toni Gonzaga and she is assisted alternately by lawyers Geronimo Sy and Cesar Villanueva.

The paid TV ad is formatted to appear as a public affairs segment, similar to a typical talk show. It is well funded — PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Petron, San Miguel Corporation and the DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) among the listed sponsors. The PCSO and DBP are under the government.

One would think that with the devastation being caused by the El Niño, the funds of the PCSO and the DBP would have been better allocated for the affected farmers. Other than those affected by the El Niño, there are easily 20 other public needs the PCSO and the DBP would do well to address instead.

Ituwid natin purports to promote discussions on the gains and lessons of EDSA I and EDSA II and the roles of the presidents since EDSA I. But that is not how your Chair Wrecker saw it and yours truly is not alone in this observation. Two leading ABS-CBN news and public affairs veterans share the view that Ituwid natin is soft propaganda for massaging the exit image of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).

Normally, we would not take issue with that. GMA is entitled to put her best foot forward, especially now that she is stepping down from the highest office in the land. But when GMA’s image repair is accomplished at the expense of the truth — whether it is the failure of omitting the whole truth or of telling a lie — then we must expose and challenge it.

Watching Ituwid natin gives the trained eye the impression that there is another agenda being served other than to repair the image of GMA. That other agenda is to lessen the monumental image of the late beloved president, Cory C. Aquino, the historical titan the whole world hailed as the Icon and Saint of Democracy when she passed away last August 1, 2009.

For instance, the segment where RAM (Reform the Armed Forces Movement) retired colonel Red Kapunan appeared is the best proof of this insidious Cory bashing agenda of Ituwid natin. Neither Gonzaga nor her co-host challenged Kapunan when he stated that the RAM launched their coup attempts against Cory Aquino because of their deep concern that the Communists were gaining ground under her administration.

The truth is Kapunan and his comrades launched their coup attempts because they were out to grab political power. The truth is it was the militarization under the Marcos regime that promoted the growth of the Communist Movement and that it was the democratic space Cory Aquino introduced after EDSA I that divided the Red Sea like Moses did in the Old Testament.

The truth is it was the growth of the Communist Movement owing to the oppression and repression during the Marcos regime which compelled then US President Ronald Reagan to stop supporting Marcos and pushed Marcos to vacate Malacañang Palace. Up to February 22, 1986, Reagan still supported Marcos. Reagan only relented after then US State Secretary George Shultz impressed on him that the Communists will attain stalemate here within two years if Marcos remained as president.

During the Cory years, the Communists were thrown into disarray and fought among themselves because many of their comrades were tired of fighting and were convinced by the sincerity of the new administration and the attraction of the new democratic space. To prevent their comrades from returning to the mainstream, the diehards started their own version of the Killing Fields of Cambodia — slaughtering their own kind.

The Communist political fronts were all dismantled by the political component of the Cory Aquino administration’s anti-insurgency program which was launched by then Local Government Secretary, the late Jimmy N. Ferrer. Ferrer was assassinated in what was made to appear as a job of the Communists but would later on tend to indicate that it was a Right Wing job designed to promote more conflict that will weaken the Cory administration.

Unlike Kapunan, Hector Tarrazona, another RAM member who also helped oust Marcos, did not join the coup attempts against Cory Aquino. During the 1989 coup, Tarrazona was the most senior officer at the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City. He stopped the officers and men under his command from joining the coup. The plan then was for the rebel sympathizers in the air base to take off in the trainer planes and to drop explosives on pinpointed targets.

Another RAM member, Rex Robles, is still remembered for sharing his tears before a national television audience when Cory Aquino passed away last August 1, 2009. Those were tears of regret from Rex Robles which enhanced his manhood for having admitted a wrong done to a great president and to the country. In contrast, Kapunan would rather prefer to rewrite history.

It is bad enough that many Filipinos do not know the real history of their country. What makes the situation worse is the constant attempt to rewrite contemporary history just to attain political gain or to simply save face.

Not knowing our real history, we end up embracing our biggest oppressors and rejecting the nationalists who are fighting for the real interests of the Filipino people. Just to show how sick the Filipino national soul is, we have found it acceptable and legal to promote the interests of another country and deemed it criminal for Filipinos to protect their national interests.

As a consequence of our folly, many foreigners have become filthy rich from the natural resources of our country while many of our people remained misinformed, uneducated and impoverished. For not knowing the historical truth, the Filipino has become the biggest impediment of Philippine progress.

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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: [email protected] and www.chairwrecker.com

Practice ‘5 Rs’ to understand EDSA I, running priest tells people

Practice ‘5 Rs’ to understand EDSA I, running priest tells people
By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—There are steps that people can take to keep the spirit of EDSA I alive, according to “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes.

He said the people could practice these “5 Rs” to understand EDSA I—remembrance, repetition, reflection, renewal and realization of its lessons, values and spirit.

Embarking on Wednesday on a 28-hour walk from Navotas City to the EDSA Shrine to help keep alive the spirit of the 1986 People Power Revolution, Reyes observed that many of the urban poor considered the historic event “a middle class thing.”

He said that contrary to that perception, EDSA I was for everyone because the people worked together to unseat a dictator, although some believed that only the face of the tyrant had changed.

Reyes said it appeared that the lessons of the peaceful uprising had not been learned.

Members of urban poor groups joined Reyes in his 28-hour pilgrimage, or “Lakbay dalangin,” to the EDSA Shrine.

The group has passed a number of government offices, including the Department of Public Works and Highways whose projects displaced poor families in Navotas.

“[This] is my humble contribution to the commemoration of EDSA I,” Reyes said. “May our leaders relearn the lessons and start a truly meaningful journey with the poor before, during and, most especially, after the May elections.”

Choose wisely

In a statement issued to mark the 24th anniversary of EDSA I, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) lamented that the gains of the historic event were short-lived.

It said that as in 1986, a similar conjugal dictatorship and deceit, corruption and disregard for the rule of law were prevailing in the country.

But the AMRSP also said the people once again had the chance to rid the country of these horrors by choosing a new group of leaders wisely and refusing to fall prey to the blandishments of candidates.

“We cannot allow these to rule and dominate the Philippine landscape, especially now that we are again hearing sweet promises of hope from those aspiring to be [our] leaders,” it said, adding:

“We must learn the lessons of our history and be vigilant to never again fall into the pit of destruction caused by men and women’s insatiable quest for power.

“We have reached our limits! We cannot allow another betrayal to happen! Let us all be united in guarding our future by not being easily swayed by the promises of those who claim to be poor, or poor in origin!”

The statement was signed by AMRSP chairs Sr. Mary John Mananzan and Fr. Jesus Malit.

Arroyo: Glory of EDSA I gone

Arroyo: Glory of EDSA I gone
Says People Power now partisan

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — Claiming that the “Glorious Revolution” had deteriorated into partisanship over the years, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Thursday made her final appearance as the nation’s leader at ceremonies commemorating the 1986 People Power Revolution.

Ms Arroyo led officials in raising the flag at the People Power Monument on EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue) in Quezon City, which kicked off the day’s activities to mark the 24th anniversary of the uprising that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and installed Corazon “Cory” Aquino as the President.

“The Philippines has come a long way since 1986. We regained our freedom and our national pride, but somewhere along the way we became complacent. People Power gained a partisan meaning that started to divide the nation once more,” Ms Arroyo said in her speech.

Thursday was Ms Arroyo’s last appearance at the EDSA I anniversary because her term ends on June 30.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Christopher Carreon of the EDSA People Power Commission, Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa and Metro Manila Development Authority Chair Oscar Inocentes joined Ms Arroyo at the ceremony that started at 7:30 a.m. with the singing of the national anthem and the flag-raising ceremony.

The Quezon Symphony Band then began playing classic Filipino songs, at which point former President Fidel V. Ramos, a key player in the 1986 uprising, emerged from the crowd and shared the stage with Ms Arroyo and the other officials.

Ms Arroyo said the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution should be commemorated not for the partisanship that came in its wake but for its spirit that presented the “greatness” of Filipinos to the world.

“People Power is not partisan. It is not about whose politics one supports. It’s about the heroism of the many who held strongly to their faith in the Filipino and who have sought a new Philippines that stands proudly beside any free nation in the world,” she said.

Ms Arroyo said EDSA I inspired many people worldwide to “stand up for their own freedom.”

“The world embraced EDSA I in 1986. The world tolerated EDSA II in 2001. The world will not forgive an EDSA III but would instead condemn the Philippines as a country whose political system is hopelessly unstable,” she said.

Then the Vice President, Ms Arroyo was catapulted to power in January 2001 in another military-backed revolt that ousted President Joseph Estrada on charges of corruption, incompetence and inefficiency. It came to be known as EDSA II.

In May 2001, followers of Estrada stormed Malacañang in a violent but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to unseat Ms Arroyo—an event that partisans of the deposed leader like to call “EDSA III.”

Ms Arroyo said her administration had partly succeeded in accomplishing its goal of bringing disparate sectors together in the aftermath of People Power.

“A few years ago I declared that one of our goals is to heal the wounds of EDSA. We’ve achieved this to some extent,” Ms Arroyo said.

“Most of those who used violence to express their opposition have had a change of heart and are now working with mainstream society to fast-track our growth,” she said in reference to some of the rebel military officers involved in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny, who have since rejoined the government.

“The few who have vowed to fight the constitutional authority, many of them are now seeking their own place in the political system, placing themselves under the rule of the Constitution,” she added, referring to detained rebel officers Danilo Lim and Ariel Querubin who are running for Senate seats in the May elections.

“Peaceful revolution is a hallmark of the Filipino’s struggle. It’s also our guide now as we wage war on various fronts—against poverty, against hunger, against ignorance. People Power is the course that we will use to win this war,” she said.

A portion of EDSA’s northbound lane and White Plains Avenue was closed to traffic to make way for the anniversary celebration.

In an ecumenical prayer, four religious leaders called on all candidates in the May elections to be inspired to work for the country whether they win or lose.

And as with all EDSA anniversary celebrations, yellow confetti was scattered around the People Power Monument.

She has stayed away from the anniversary celebrations since July 2005, the height of the “Hello Garci” election fraud scandal, when Cory Aquino and civil society leaders called for her resignation.

In 2007, Ms Arroyo marked the anniversary by laying wreaths at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Last year, she chose to attend a jobs fair at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration just across the street from the EDSA Shrine.

In 2006, the commemoration was canceled after Ms Arroyo declared a state of emergency following the discovery of a coup plot planned for the eve of the EDSA I anniversary.

Danilo Lim, one of the leaders of the violent coup attempt against then President Aquino in 1989, was to have led troops in a protest march on Feb. 24, 2006, in what was euphemistically called a “withdrawal of support” from Ms Arroyo.

He was sacked as commander of the Army’s elite First Scout Rangers. He is detained at Camp Crame national police headquarters and is running for senator as a guest candidate of the Liberal Party (LP).

Interviewed at the People Power Monument, Mayor Belmonte said the legacy of EDSA I was enduring despite the passing of its most popular icons, Cory Aquino and Jaime Cardinal Sin.

“The courage of Filipinos who were there at EDSA was never gone. That was the moment that signaled an important part of our nation’s history,” he said.

Belmonte was president of the Government Service and Insurance System during the administration of Aquino, who died in August 2009.

He was recently sworn in as an LP member and is seeking to represent Quezon City in the House.

Asked if he thought EDSA I had lost its relevance after 24 years, Belmonte said: “EDSA lives on. It doesn’t die because icons even from the ranks of ordinary people prove that the EDSA spirit is alive.”

He said that even with Sin and Aquino gone, democratic processes were alive and well.

“Nonetheless, it’s good that we are reminded that we have that one shining moment in our nation’s history,” he said.

In Manila, officials and employees laid wreaths at the monuments of Aquino and her husband, the martyred Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

“Let us not forget the sacrifices of the Aquinos in order for us to have the democracy we now enjoy,” Mayor Alfredo Lim said in a speech.

Rafa Lopa, a nephew of the late Aquinos, represented the family, particularly LP standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, at the event.

Lim called on those who witnessed EDSA I to remember how Ninoy offered his life for the country and how Cory and her children suffered during his incarceration by the Marcos regime.

He urged the youth to learn their history by heart and to not forget the heroes of democracy.

Lopa said the Aquino family recognized that without the love of country showed by ordinary citizens, EDSA I would not have happened.

According to Lopa, Noynoy Aquino did not originally intend to seek the presidency except that his mother’s death triggered a clamor for him to carry on the legacy of his parents.

Lopa also said the massive public support for Noynoy also meant support for the country’s change for the better. With reports from Julie M. Aurelio and Tina G. Santos

Pampanga not solid for GMA; Gloria sis backs Erap 2010 bid

Pampanga not solid for GMA; Gloria sis backs Erap 2010 bid
By Gerry Baldo
The Daily Tribune

MAGALANG, Pampanga — The alleged bailiwick of President Arroyo in Pampanga is not, after all, solid for her.

This as former Pampanga Vice Gov. Cielo Macapagal-Salgado, Arroyo’s half-sister, yesterday announced that she is going to be the campaign manager of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), the political party of former President Joseph Estrada, in the province of Pampanga.

“We are confident that we are going to win,” Macapagal-Salgado said in an interview at the Dee Hwa Liong College in Magalang where the standard-bearer of the PMP and some of the members of his senatorial slate stopped en route from Arayat to Mabalacat, Angeles City and to the Erap Housing Project in San Jose del Monte in Bulacan where a big rally was held.

Together with Estrada were former Negros Occidental Rep. Apolinario “Jun” Lozada, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, former Sen. Francisco “Kit” Tatad and ZTE broadband whistle blower Jose de Venecia III.

Described by President Estrada as the “original daughter” of the late former President Diosdado Macapagal, Macapagal-Salgado said the people of Pampanga will still support the former president.

“I think the people will still support him,” she told reporters covering the PMP campaign sorties here.

She added Estrada has done much to the province and that the people will not forget that.

“President Erap did many things for Pampanga,” she stressed.

Estrada, in a separate interview, agreed with Macapagal-Salgado even as he took notice of the warm reception they got from the townsfolk of the place where he and friend, actor Fernando Poe Jr., filmed some of the best movies of their lives.

“I was surprised at the reception of the people, I didn’t expect that,” Estrada said as he recalled the filming of Kumander Alibasbas and Pedrong Taruk.

“During the height of my (acting) career with (Fernando Poe Jr.), our movies were strongest in the theaters here,” he said.

Macapagal-Salgado said Estrada won here during the 1998 elections.

She added she has known President Estrada since she was a young girl.

Relatedly, as the country marks the 24th anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolt, President Estrada gave special praise to Enrile’s role in the peaceful revolution that toppled the regime of the late strongman former President Ferdinand Marcos.

In a speech before students, Estrada extolled the heroism and leadership exhibited by Enrile during the tense days of Edsa 1, and said the Senate president deserved to be called the true hero of Edsa 1.

Estrada’s camp also appealed to all sectors to also remember the “other” genuine people power event which erupted after a conspiracy toppled a duly elected president and which underscored the power of the masses, Edsa lll.

The Estrada camp said like the first Edsa revolt, the 2001 Edsa lll was a true outpouring of the people’s will, marked by a large representation of the poor and marginalized whose anger erupted after witnessing the disrespectful treatment of a duly elected chief executive who was robbed of a chance to prove his innocence before the Senate impeachment tribunal, and later arrested in a shameful and highly publicized manner.

Meanwhile, the Magdalo Group yesterday endorsed the candidacy of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar with the condition of his not forging an alliance with Arroyo, adopting the advocacy of the mutinous organization and allow its detained chairman, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, to freely serve the government.

Former Air Force Lt. Ashley Acedillo, spokesman of the Magdalo Group, also announced that the group is endorsing the vice presidential run of Liberal Party’s (LP) Sen. Manuel Roxas II.

According to Acedillo, Villar agreed to all the conditions.

There are persistent reports of alleged “unholy” alliance between Villar and Arroyo despite the administration’s fielding of former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. as standard-bearer of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.

Acedillo said the decision was made after consultations with the group’s 400 national and local chapters nationwide, composed of 55,000 members. Mario J. Mallari, Angie M. Rosales, Gina P. Elorde

Bongbong to Noynoy: Move forward, let Marcos rest at Libingan ng mga Bayani

Bongbong to Noynoy: Move forward, let Marcos rest at Libingan ng mga Bayani
JOHANNA CAMILLE SISANTE
GMANews.TV

As the nation celebrates the 24th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising, the son and namesake of the late strongman ousted by that revolt asked Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III on Wednesday to reconsider his stand that he will not allow the late dictator’s remains to be laid to final rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani if he gets elected president.

In a statement, Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. asked Noynoy, a consistent leader in presidential preference surveys, not to make the elder Ferdinand Marcos’ burial a “personal” issue so “the nation can move forward.”

“My father is long dead. My only wish is that he will be given a decent burial,” said Bongbong, a senatorial candidate running with the Nacionalista Party (NP) ticket of Senator Manuel Villar Jr., who is Noynoy’s closest rival.

Noynoy’s father, the martyred senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was Marcos’ political archrival. Noynoy’s mother Corazon took over the presidency in 1986 when the dictator was ousted in February 1986 by a popular uprising centered on the now-famous thoroughfare, EDSA.

On Tuesday, amid public reminiscences of the 1986 EDSA uprising, Noynoy maintained his opposition to Marcos’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City. [See: Noynoy’s camp says Marcos has no place among heroes]

Bongbong said: “I just hope that Noynoy will remove anger from his heart. We need genuine reconciliation so the nation can move forward. Huwag na niya kaming personalin (He shouldn’t take this personally against us).”

The Ilocos congressman said his father, a soldier in World War II, deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes), which was established as the final resting place of distinguished Filipino soldiers and veterans, as well as heroes and martyrs. Two Philippine presidents are buried there.

Noynoy’s camp, however, said “genuine reconciliation” could only be achieved if the Marcos family owns up to the abuses committed during the late dictator’s two-decade rule.

“Have they at any instance admitted their wrongdoing or asked forgiveness from the Filipino people? If they want genuine reconciliation, where is the ‘I am sorry’ spiel?” said Edwin Lacierda, Noynoy’s spokesperson, in a text message to GMANews.TV.

“If they continue to be in denial, how could the Marcoses ask for reconciliation? We cannot let the Filipino people forget the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship!” Lacierda said.

Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, invoking the need to quell rebellion and “save the Republic” as well as to “reform society.”

Ruling by decree as commander in chief of the Armed Forces, he curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties, closed down Congress and independent media firms, and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including Ninoy, his staunchest critic.

Three years after he was ousted, Marcos died in exile in Hawaii at age 72, due to complications from kidney ailments often associated with lupus erythematosus. His body was refused entry to the Philippines, so his wife Imelda kept him in a refrigerated mausoleum in Oahu.

Years after his death, the Philippine government allowed Marcos’ remains to return to his homeland, but blocked his burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. His body is now in a refrigerated crypt in the Marcos family mausoleum in the village cemetery in Batac, Ilocos Norte province.—JV, GMANews.TV

Did Villar, Erap, Teodoro and Gordon fight the Marcos dictatorship?

Did Villar, Erap, Teodoro and Gordon fight the Marcos dictatorship?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star

Filipinos relive their national traumas owing to their shallow sense of history. Many Filipinos do not even know their real history – much less remember the lessons of it.

We were among the first in Asia to win national independence. We had practically won our independence from Spain when the United States of America invaded our shores and grabbed our islands from the Spaniards.

This American shadow continues to influence our national affairs to this day despite all the appearances that we have been given independence on July 4, 1946. Many Filipinos fault the US for not stopping the Marcos imposition of martial law. Very few Filipinos realized that it was the US who sponsored the imposition of martial law here.

Ferdinand Marcos could not have declared martial law if the US did not want it. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo tried to impose emergency rule after the February 24, 2006 military tension in Fort Bonifacio but was not able to because the US told her to recall the executive order.

Too inward looking, few Filipinos saw that during the early 1970s, the US was sponsoring dictatorships all over Central and South America and in Asia because of their great fear then of The Domino Theory – the collapse of states to the Communist global expansion. Communist victories in Cuba and Vietnam triggered the creation of all those dictatorships.

Filipino disunity, idiocy (not knowing the truth) and corruptibility allow the US to enforce its agenda. Like the Roman Caesars, the US can easily divide and rule us through our tribal mindset and our weak and corrupt leaders. Our Filipino idiocy manifested anew late last year when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was welcomed like a conquering hero even if her real objective was to rush the US agenda in Mindanao which would place us at the front line of a projected conflict between the US and China.

The EDSA event that we mark today was one of the most significant turning points in Philippine history. In EDSA, in 1986, Filipinos were united behind a good, honest leader and there we made the US shift its support from Marcos.

Contrary to what those who have personal agendas to promote have been saying, it’s not true that EDSA was a failure. The removal of the US-sponsored Marcos dictatorship and the restoration of democracy were the objectives of EDSA and both objectives were successfully accomplished. The return of the oligarchy and traditional dirty patronage politics is not a failure of EDSA but the failure of the Filipino people who did not know their history and elected the wrong leaders.

The challenges confronting our fragile democracy have worsened as we face a crucial election in May. Do we really want meaningful reform and change for the better or do we just want a cosmetic improvement of our present situation? If we want change and reform, then we better understand and recognize the real from the projected, the good from the evil, the factors for reform and those silently promoting the status quo.

Let’s go back to our one shining moment in history when we won world admiration and inspired other nations – EDSA 1986. Let’s renew our commitment to good versus evil and democracy versus a conscienceless oligarchy. By going back to our past, we will be able to get our bearings for embarking on the road to saving our country for our future generations.

Why don’t we begin by identifying who among the leading presidential candidates was not with us during the struggle against the US-sponsored Marcos dictatorship? How can we trust anyone who did not fight for freedom and democracy when nothing else counted more?

The Marcos era was a defining moment in our history which separated heroes from opportunists. It is one of the best standards for determining who we can trust to really extricate us from this deep desperate pit we’re in and guide us into the Filipino Promised Land.

Manny Villar belonged to the Aguilar political dynasty in Las Pinas. He married into it and represented Las Pinas as Congressman. They were with Marcos then just as many of the Marcos people are with Villar now.

Joseph “Erap” Estrada was also with Marcos. That was why he was removed when Officers in Charge replaced Marcos local government executives during the revolutionary period following EDSA 1986.

Gilbert Teodoro’s father served Marcos as head of the SSS (Social Security System) and Teodoro does not deny his Marcos links. In fact, just recently, he was quoted proposing a hero’s burial for Marcos.

Richard Gordon, a man who claims to appreciate the importance of knowing history and its impact on national development, also served as a local government official under Marcos. Gordon and Teodoro support the American line.

Bad episodes in history tend to have long term effects. World War I is a good example of that as it continues to shape world events up to this century. Those who say that we should stop blaming Marcos for many of our present problems are idiots – people who do not know the truth – or are guilty of having been with Marcos and now want to hide the truth.

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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: [email protected] yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com