Fidel Ramos: Impeachment won’t solve poverty
Former President Fidel V. Ramos took the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the first Edsa People Power Revolution to assail the infighting between government branches as seen through the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“This anniversary is supposed to be a day of coming together. But that is what is missing in our country today … because our coequal, powerful branches of government are so divided,” he told reporters.
“That’s why now what we need is cooperation of all Filipinos and that’s something that won’t be attained just by impeachment,” said Ramos, one of the key players of Edsa I.
“Because there are still beggars, there are still starving people and there are still jobless people, impeachment will not solve the problem of poverty, inequity, and lack of jobs and a declining economy,” he said.
Not the message of Edsa
He said the disunity in government was not in keeping with the oneness that characterized the Edsa revolution when the people toppled the Marcos dictatorship through a peaceful uprising.
“I think that’s not the message of Edsa during our time,” Ramos said.
“After Edsa, we experienced change. We restored democracy during the time of Cory. And during my time [as president], I signed a final peace agreement with rebels like Sen. Gringo Honasan and the Moro National Liberation Front under Nur Misuari. We completed that in 1995-1996,” he said.
At the start of the Edsa revolution, Ramos, who then headed the Philippine Constabulary, withdrew support from Marcos and threw in his lot with then Defense Minister, now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Key figures reunite
Saturday’s Edsa commemoration was the first time in years that many of the key figures from the original revolution appeared, from Ramos to Enrile and Honasan.
People Power veterans reenacted the “Salubungan,” or the meeting of civilians and military troops at the height of the 1986 revolt.
From the gates of the Corinthian Gardens subdivision, former Sen. Agapito “Butz” Aquino led the civilian contingent, which marched on the short stretch of Edsa toward the People Power Monument, where the main program was held.
The civilians were met by the military group led by Ramos, who marched from Gate 3 of Camp Aguinaldo, the Armed Forces headquarters, at the head of hundreds of uniformed military and police troops.
Two armored vehicles, festooned with yellow flowers, joined the procession of uniformed soldiers.
Government employees, church workers, civic leaders, boy scouts and students—many of them wearing yellow—assembled in front of the monument.
Among top government officials who attended the commemoration were President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay, ex-President Joseph Estrada, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, AFP Chief Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa and Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome.
Also present were Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Sen. Vicento Sotto III, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino.
A helicopter flew overhead and sprinkled the crowd with yellow confetti, drawing cheers and applause. But some of the confetti appeared to have clumped together and dropped like bricks, nearly hitting a group of reporters in the media section.
Later, more showers of yellow paper strips burst from confetti cannons, rendering a yellow mist-like effect that made the crowd gasp.
Some 2,000 civil disturbance management troops were deployed to secure the festivities, which started at past 6 a.m. with Mr. Aquino’s arrival.
The “Salubungan” is a symbolic reenactment of the military leadership’s joining forces with civilian groups and breaking away with Marcos to rally behind opposition leader Corazon Aquino.
This marked the beginning of the People Power Revolution and the meeting has become an enduring symbol of military defiance against the dictatorship.
The festivities were capped by folk singer Freddie Aguilar’s rendition of the People Power anthem, “Bayan Ko.”