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33RD COMMEMORATION OF PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION

Don’t be fooled twice, ex-President Aquino warns Filipinos

FIGHT NOT YET OVER Former President Benigno Aquino III warns that the country is returning to the Marcos years and the battle fought at Edsa is not yet over. —RICHARD A. REYES

Former President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday urged the public not to allow themselves to be fooled twice as he warned them that the evils the Edsa People Power Revolution eradicated in 1986 seemed to be making a comeback.

“This coming election, I believe this expression is apt: ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,’” Aquino said, referring to an American adage.

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For the first time since he bowed out of office, the former President said he would break his silence to comment on issues in which he was pilloried “like a very useless person” in the past three years.

He lamented what he said was the beating he had received over the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy despite the case’s lack of factual basis.

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“Despite medical evidence, they chose to repeat the charges by people who are not even experts in this field,” Aquino said.

Citing medical evidence, he said patients who received Dengvaxia shots had a 0.02-percent chance of getting adverse complications.

For the 837,000 who were given the dengue vaccine, this only translates to about 16 persons, Aquino said.

“The flip side of that is, should we sacrifice the welfare of the 837,000 patients over those of the 16?” he said.

‘Maharlika’ proposal

Aquino said the country was returning to the Marcos years, citing the creation of the Department of Human Settlements, and the proposal to change the name of the country to Maharlika, which was also proposed by dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

He also used the occasion to campaign for the eight Liberal Party senatorial candidates, saying the “battle that was fought in Edsa is not yet over.”

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“They can bring us to the straight path that we were once headed,” Aquino said, addressing about 1,000 people who marked the 33rd anniversary of the 1986 uprising at the People Power Monument in Quezon City.

Two major players in the popular revolt agreed on Saturday that people should continue to remember the historic event, whose separate commemoration on Monday would be given a miss by President Rodrigo Duterte for the third straight year.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan II said he would “remember with pride and continuing faith and hope the four providential days in February 1986” when members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement broke away from the chain of command to “become part of People Power, the crucial component, tipping point and accelerator of [the] historical events.”

Honasan, then an Army lieutenant colonel, was among the rebel military officers loyal to former Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile who staged a coup against Marcos in 1986.

Although Marcos’ generals, led by then Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Fabian Ver, discovered the plot to attack Malacañang, the rebel soldiers’ uprising precipitated the dictator’s ouster, Honasan said.

Asked whether the nation should still celebrate the event the way it did before, he said: “Let’s just simply commemorate and remember what Edsa ’86 was for, and continue to work and pray hard for reforms…”

Collateral damage

In a radio interview, Enrile said the first Edsa revolution was now part of the country’s history and it was only right that the nation memorialized it.

Marcos ended up as the “collateral damage” after he was caught in the middle of a feud between Ver and his loyalist generals on the one hand and the military rebels who backed the defense secretary on the other, Enrile said.

Told that the President would skip Monday’s Edsa affair, Enrile said only the event should be commemorated not on Feb. 25 but on Feb. 22, the day he and the military rebels declared they had broken away from the dictator.

Also on Saturday, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno called on the youth to continue the cause of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that, she said, had been lost in the “tyranny and injustice” of recent years.

Fight for the future

In her speech during the “People Power for the 2019 elections” forum, Sereno challenged the younger generations to live up to the spirit of the new democracy won at Edsa 33 years ago.

“The fight for democracy continues, we were not able to complete it, and that behooves the younger generation to fight for the future. We must start with the conviction that what is wrong must be righted; so much is wrong with what is happening in society now,” she said.

In a statement from her detention cell at Camp Crame, Sen. Leila de Lima reminded the people that another leader was trying to suppress dissent against his rule.

Calling the President a “tyrant,” De Lima blamed him for her detention on what she said were trumped-up charges, the ouster of Sereno, deportation of Australian nun Patricia Fox, revival of rebellion charges against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the filing of tax and libel charges against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.

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TAGS: 33rd People Power anniversary, Benigno Aquino III, Noynoy Aquino
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