Catholic Church leaders have urged the people to mark the celebration of the 26th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution on Saturday with gratitude to God for attaining freedom through “bloodless” means, but warned those using the event for personal motives and interests.
“Now, people can always use the celebration for their own motives … but I hope as a people, it’s about time that we think about what it could bring in terms of the common good, development and giving people hope,” said Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“When we look back and rejoice that we have won freedom without bloodshed, we should thank the Lord,” Palma said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas on Wednesday.
The 26th Edsa Revolution anniversary comes at a time when the nation is divided over the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona for betrayal of public trust, improper disclosures in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) and other charges.
Corona and President Benigno Aquino III have also been engaged in an ugly word war, using public forums as venues. The exchange prompted senators and bishops to call on the two leaders of coequal branches of government to exercise prudence and proper decorum.
Edsa activities, theme
The Edsa People Power Commission (EPPC), chaired by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., has come up with a series of activities for the celebration in Metro Manila, Trece Martires City, Iligan City and Batangas province on February 25.
Its theme, “Edsa 26: Anong Taya Mo Para Sa Pilipinas Natin?” is a call to action for all Filipinos to participate in nation-building while the activities will highlight the spirit of volunteerism and bayanihan.
The President will lead the flag-raising rites at the People Power Monument and the traditional “Salubungan” on Edsa. Expected to join him are Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Fidel Ramos, Ochoa, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, Metro Manila mayors and EPPC commissioners.
In the afternoon, Mr. Aquino will be in Trece Martires to turn over 21,000 houses to soldiers. According to the EPPC, this event is symbolic of the partnership of the military and civilians during the Edsa Revolution.
Archbishop Palma said Edsa showed the Filipinos’ obedience to God’s will and perseverance to become united.
But he lamented that while the country was able to topple a dictatorship and achieve freedom, the peaceful and nonviolent revolution, which other countries tried to emulate, had yet to bear fruit 26 years after.
“Today, we are free as we claim, but that freedom has not yet resulted in a better life,” Palma said. “The challenge today is how do we use this freedom to achieve greater blessings? How do we use this freedom to develop the country, where people live in the most humane [condition]?”
“I would say [there should be] responsible use of such freedom,” he added.
In a recent speech commemorating the Edsa Revolution at La Consolacion College in Manila, Mr. Aquino campaigned for the removal of Corona, saying: “Would Juan de la Cruz allow himself to be left out in the process? Are we going to allow only a few to decide for all of us?”
“The question in this trial is rather simple: Can we still trust Mr. Corona?” the President said during the first of a series of events to mark the anniversary of the civilian-backed military uprising.
For his part, Corona challenged the President to disclose his own SALN, bank and purported psychological records of his mental capacity to govern.
In Malacañang, Executive Secretary Ochoa issued Memorandum Circular No. 27, ordering all government officials and employees to take part in the Edsa anniversary activities.
The circular also directed all departments, agencies and instrumentalities of the national government, including government corporations, and local government units, to extend assistance to organizers of the program and activities.
Ochoa said he was encouraging them to conduct their own events, including holding lectures, film showings and community services “and help make this year’s observance a success.”
In Iligan City, more than 200 houses will be distributed to victims of Tropical Storm “Sendong,” which devastated Northern Mindanao on December 16 last year.
Edsa Day in the city will be capped by a concert featuring popular artists, led by Ogie Alcasid, and an EPPC commissioner, who volunteered to perform before the evacuees and the relief aid volunteers.