February 25, 2017

MANILA – The EDSA People Power Revolt in 1986 moved the Philippines forward, and it is always a call for remembering and celebration, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Saturday.

The Liberal Party president is reacting to a call from the administration to “move on” from what happened 31 years ago, when Filipinos took to the streets, prayed for the soldiers who left the dictator’s side, faced and turned back tanks, and brought down a dictator – together.

“Bakit tayo mag ‘mo-move on’ sa makasaysayang pangyayari sa ating bansa na kung saan sa pamamagitan ng ating sama-samang pagkilos at pagkakaisa bilang mga mamamayan ay naibalik natin ang demokrasya at kalaayan sa bansa? (Why should we move on from that moment in history when through our collective will as a people we regained our freedoms and restored democratic rule?)” Pangilinan said.

“Dapat ipinagdiriwang ng bansa ang panunumbalik ng ating kalayaan at ang pagpapatalsik sa mapangabusong diktador na siyang umagaw sa ating kalayaan at demokrasya (Regaining our freedom and ending the abuse and brutality of dictatorial rule should always be remembered and celebrated by the nation),” he added.

“At dapat parati natin itong ginugunita dahil pinagmumulan ng ating karangalan, ng lakas, at ng inspirasyon (And we should always remember that because that is a source of pride, a source of strength, a source of inspiration),” said Pangilinan, who was a councilor of the University of the Philippines University Student Council at the time.

On Friday, the Liberal Party, together with UP and the Institute for Leadership, Empowerment and Democracy (ILEAD), hosted a discussion on the relevance of the 1986 EDSA People Power today. Pangilinan was one of the speakers, along with former Elections Chairman and member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission Christian Monsod, investigative journalist Raissa Robles, former National Security Adviser Jose Almonte, and Vice President Leni Robredo.

Monsod championed the genuine heroes of EDSA, particularly the NAMFREL volunteers, but was disheartened because “we lost something as we went our separate ways after EDSA.”

“Thirty-one years after EDSA, we still have the problem of mass poverty. We are a country of contradictions. We have first world amenities in urban areas, but no housing for the poor. It is not only bullets the kill. Poverty kills. Hunger kills. It is the dying of dignity,” he said.

Raissa Robles shared her alarm over historical revisionism, and how the current administration is “cherry-picking from history to suit [its] political intent.”

“There is a concerted effort from the Duterte administration to erase EDSA from the memory of the Filipino people. It was the people and the religious that made EDSA what it was. The fact that Duterte will hold the celebration of EDSA inside Camp Aguinaldo is in fact already a revision of history,” she said.

Jose Almonte, meanwhile, praised the current administration for seriously taking on the peace talks with communist rebels.

“We are the country with longest insurgency in the world. We are fighting ourselves. Why? If we do not alter the connection between politics and business, then we will never go anywhere. At least President Duterte is saying outright that he will do something about it,” Almonte said.

As the last speaker, Vice President Leni Robredo issued a challenge to the current administration.

“Mr. President, we call you to task. We ask you to focus on the war that really matters: the war on poverty. Please use your leadership to direct the nation towards respect for rule of law, instead of blatant disregard for it. We ask you to uphold basic human rights enshrined in the institution, instead of encouraging its abuse. Be the leader you promised to be, and evoke in us hope and inspiration instead of fear,” Robredo said.

The discussion is part of the Liberal Party’s efforts on redefining the party, with focus on the grassroots and other sectors of civil society. Last week, Pangilinan attended a forum on the death penalty in Cebu. Pangilinan said the party will also be holding a forum on poverty.

Link to Sen. Pangilinan’s speech on the relevance of the 1986 EDSA Revolution today: