Group says EDSA celebration this year marred by Aquino’s support of online libel

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REAL HEROES The people forming human barricades flash the “Laban” sign as they stand at the gate of Camp Crame. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Every year, Filipinos commemorate the historic Edsa People Power, reliving the nation’s fight for freedom, democracy and unity.

This year’s anniversary of Edsa I, however, “will be marked with such great irony,” said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes on Sunday.

He said President Benigno Aquino III’s support for the online libel provision in the Cybercrime Protection Act, as well as his appointment of a former police official to the martial law compensation board, had ruined the celebration.

“Both instances are betrayals of what the people stood for in Edsa- freedom and justice. Both instances show the disconnect between Edsa and Aquino, how the latter has become the anti-thesis to people power,” Reyes said in a statement.

The spokesperson said Aquino only “succeeded in highlighting the unfulfilled promises of Edsa” with many things remaining the same or even worsening under his administration.

“Edsa, however, also reminds us that true power lies with the people, and that they must use this power in the face of oppression,” Reyes added.

Last week, Aquino defended the online libel provision of the cybercrime law after it was upheld by the Supreme Court.

“Will it hinder freedom of expression? I think that’s not the aim,” he said.

Malacañang also asked critics to give former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Lina Sarmiento a chance to serve as head of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board, which is tasked to oversee the distribution of P10-billion compensation for martial law victims.

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