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Strongmen will never succeed – Robredo

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday said the people power movement should serve as a warning to strongmen that they would never succeed in their tyrannical rule.

In her message on the 34th year of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution, Robredo also underscored the need for the public to be vigilant amid attempts to revise history.

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“We succeeded then, and we continue to take on the path to achieve the aspirations of Edsa. We know that there is no perfect leader and no perfect democracy, but we did not come together then to call for such,” she said.

The people, she said, united to call for a life of dignity, as well as for a government that does its sworn duty, and not lie, steal, abuse and kill its people.

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Robredo said she herself was among the millions of people who gathered along Edsa over three decades ago to seek the ouster of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the removal of his family from power.

Widespread corruption and cronyism had defined the martial law regime under Marcos. Thousands of dissidents and activists were killed or had disappeared, while an independent press was stifled.

“Now there are attempts to erase the memories of Edsa for their own agenda,” she said. “Only 34 years have passed: many of those who came together are still with us … It is our obligation to them not to make room for any lies.”

Last month, defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that school books that discussed the abuses of his father’s regime should be revised. His remark had been widely condemned, particularly by historians.

Amid such attempts, Robredo encouraged the public to engage the remaining survivors and veterans of martial law, and ask about their experiences in facing the harrowing realities of a dictatorship.

“May Edsa be a warning to anyone who would attempt again to rule us with an iron fist: They will not prosper,” she said.

Same abuses are back

Detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima, for her part, has urged Filipinos to continue fighting for the country as President Rodrigo Duterte has brought back the same abuses that they rose up against 34 years ago when they ousted the late dictator.

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“These are all due to a leader’s greed for power. But the message of Edsa is clear. No abuser emerges victorious,” she said in a statement.

De Lima maintained that she was jailed for speaking up against the killings, abuses and corruption of the government, which led to the filing of trumped-up charges against her.

Press freedom is also under threat, as seen in the troubles of ABS-CBN, which faces the threat of closure as its franchise renewal has been left hanging amid tirades from President Duterte against the network, she said.

She also slammed  Duterte for turning the Philippines into a “Chinese province, citing the many concessions he had given Beijing, including his proposed joint exploration deal with China in the West Philippine Sea, Chinese research access to Benham Rise, the installation of Chinese communication facilities inside military camps, and the award of critical projects to Chinese companies with questionable records.

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TAGS: authoritarianism, Leni Robredo, People power, strongman role
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