Reflections on Edsa I

February 22, 2010

Reflections on Edsa 1

I regret not being here during the 1986 People Power revolution. I was in Geneva; with Sr. Mariani Dimaranan SFIC of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), reporting before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) on the human rights abuses of the Marcos dictatorship.

Much to our dismay, as we really wanted to immediately board a plane back to Manila to be part of such a historic upheaval, we were obliged to participate in various speaking engagements. Our restlessness kept us awake, eagerly awaiting news on the ongoing revolt not only from the mainstream press (which were scanty) but also from comrades in the anti-Marcos movement, particularly from my friend and “sparring partner” Lean Alejandro.

We were, however, relieved by the outpour of sympathy and support to the plight of the Filipino people. Everywhere we went; people of different creed, nationality and religion welcomed us with warm smiles and bouquets as they were anxious to know the latest reports on the unfolding revolt in EDSA.

The EDSA uprising made us proud to be Filipinos. We are brave nation that stood up against tyranny and fought for the noble principles of freedom and democracy.

Now, more than two decades after the “sudden” turn of history, I urge Filipinos to ask themselves, where are the gains of the so-called “people power revolution”? What did the people get in return for their gallantry and sacrifice, using their bodies as shields to stop the onslaught of tanks to Camps Aguinaldo and Crame?

The fresh and soothing breeze of unbridled freedom and genuine democracy? No. People Power merely ushered in a return to the rotten system of elite democracy, to the restoration of pre-Martial Law politics.

The right to vote was restored. But we are made to choose for the “lesser evil” among candidates, who despite their differences are all representatives of the interests of capital and the landowners. Worse, the people’s will continues to be undermined by electoral fraud. Who can forget the convoluted twist of Arroyo’s “Hello Garci” and “I am sorry” incidents?

Press freedom has returned. But newspaper space and radio and TV airtime are reserved to those who can pay for them.

The 1987 Constitution recognized the right to legitimate dissent. Yet protesters are met with force and coercion, even during the Aquino administration that replaced the fallen Marcos dictatorship where severe violations to human rights were rampant, as can be discerned by the Mendiola massacre and the assassination of labor leader Lando Olalia and activist Lean Alejandro.

Nothing has substantially changed. Until now, the right to legitimate protest is under threat. The latest infringement is the arrest and incarceration of doctors and health workers, in what has been tagged as “Morong 43”.

The movement and clamor for genuine change, freedom and democracy, therefore, must prevail. Devotion to this cause of human rights and social justice forms the bedrock of my candidacy for senator in the coming elections.

Yet, the struggle to be free – to borrow Lean’s words – does not end in May. Whatever would be the result of the electoral exercise, the people must remain active participants in the nation’s political life, not only during elections where they are “consulted” on who would next lead the country. Human rights and the law – which I continuously study and practice as a trial lawyer – would be lifeless letters if they are absent and useless in the everyday lives of the impoverished majority, and if they are abused by rich and powerful. Power to the people!

—————–

February 22, 2010
Aral mula sa Edsa 1

Wala ako sa ating bansa nang maganap ang 1986 People Power revolution. Ako ay nasa Geneva, kasama si Sr. Mariani Dimaranan SFIC ng Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) sa pagpupulong ng United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) na idinudulog ang mga paglabag ng diktadurang Marcos sa karapatang pantao ng mamamayang Pilipino.

Gusto ko mang umuwi agad ng Pilipinas para masaksihan ang ganitong makasaysayang pangyayari, nagkasya ako sa paghihintay ng balita mula sa nagaganap na pag-aalsa, kapwa sa midya at sa mga kasama sa pakikibakang anti-Marcos – particular, mula kay Lean Alejandro na aking matalik na kaibigan.

Tanging ang mainit na pagtanggap sa amin ng mga delegado ng United Nations – ang pagsalubong sa amin ng bulaklak at mga ngiti – ang nagpagaan sa aming pag-aalala. Sa harap ng bultong binubuo ng iba’t ibang lahi, lubos naming ipinagmamalaki na kami ay Pilipino. Isang dakilang lahing lumalaban para sa demokrasya at kalayaan. Isang bansang nagpatalsik sa isang diktador.

Pero ano ang ganansya ng tinaguriang “rebolusyon”? Pero nasaan ang matamis na simoy ng demokrasya? Nasaan ang kalayaan? Ang nanumbalik ay ang elitistang sistema ng demokrasya – ang klase ng demokrasya bago idineklara ang Martial Law.

Naibalik nga ang karapatang bumoto. Pero ang pagpipilian ay pawang mga negosyante’t asendero o kanilang mga representante. Ang mas masakit, ito ay nadadaya pa. Sino ang nakakalimot sa Hello Garci ni Arroyo?

Nanumbalik ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag pero ang mas nabibigyan ng ispasyo sa midya ay ang may kakayanang bumili nito.

Kinilala ng Saligang Batas ang karapatan sa lehitimong protesta pero ang mga tumututol ay nakakaranas ng dahas at panunupil. Mismong sa rehimeng Aquino na pumalit kay Marcos, naitala ang matitinding mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao – gaya ng Mendiola Massacre, pagpaslang kina Lean Alejandro at Lando Olalia.

Walang substansyal na pagbabago. Hanggang ngayon, nilalabag pa rin ang karapatang pantao. Kamakailan lang, dinakip at kinulong ang mga doktor at health workers na tinaguriang “Morong 43”.

Dapat manatiling buhay ang panawagan at kilusan para sa pagbabago, demokrasya at kalayaan. Ito ang aking paninindigan sa pagtakbo bilang senador sa darating na halalan.

Subalit hindi nagtatapos sa eleksyon ang laban – anuman ang resulta nito – ang taumbayan ay dapat maging bahagi sa buhay pampulitika ng bansa. Hindi lamang tuwing eleksyon, kung kalian, “kinokonsulta” sila kung sino ang dapat mamuno sa bansa.

Ang batas at karapatan – na aking inaaral at isinasapraktika bilang abogado – ay mananatiling “patay na letra” kung ito ay hindi tinatamasa ng nakararami at kung ito ay inaabuso lamang ng  iilang may yaman at kapangyarihan.  Kapangyarihan sa mamamayan!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: