Edsa rites see battle on two fronts: Revisionism, Cha-cha

Edsa rites see battle on two fronts: Revisionism, Cha-cha

Francis “Kiko” Aquino Dee

Francis “Kiko” Aquino Dee—LYN RILLON

On the 38th year of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution, groups and personalities who resisted the dictatorship that it toppled are fighting on two fronts to keep its legacy alive—against the revision of the narrative of the events that led to it and the efforts to change the Constitution that affirmed the democratic spirit of the uprising.

“Edsa 1 is a lived experience of God’s salvation of the Filipino people. People who reject this do not respect our Lord. Whoever revises the story of Edsa 1 dishonors God and discredits what God has done for us and His people,” said Fr. Manoling Francisco one of three priests who led a Mass at the Edsa Shrine on Friday.


‘Still not united’

The Mass was held two days ahead of the anniversary of the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who fled Malacañang with his family and close associates on Feb. 25, 1986.


Another priest, Fr. Nono Alfonso, lamented that after the 38 years, “we feel we are still far away from reaching our Promised Land.”

“The Filipinos are still not united, and many of us remain impoverished … But God has not grown weary of us. We will eventually reach our Promised Land,” he said.

Thinner crowd

There were fewer people during Friday’s Mass, most of them dressed in yellow, which was symbolic of the anti-Marcos movement and eventually became associated with former President Corazon Aquino, who was swept to power by the revolt.

In previous years, Masses commemorating Edsa 1 would fill the shrine’s seats, with a thick crowd forming outside it to listen to the program.

But former presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles, who is one of the conveners of Buhay ang Edsa Campaign Network formed to rally a revival of the “spirit of Edsa,” was still happy because the annual event brought together different generations of Edsa icons.

According to Deles, the group was formed a month ago “because we really need to get together and act together, and continue to insist that Edsa is an important part of our history,” after it was not declared a holiday for the first time since 1986.


“We recognize what we have gained from it. We are proud of its history and we will stand up for people to continue remembering it,” Deles said.

She admitted that people might have “taken for granted a bit” what happened during Edsa.

‘Unfinished work’

Among those at the Mass were Sen. Risa Hontiveros, former Senators Leila de Lima and Bam Aquino, Rep. Edcel Lagman, former Commission on Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales, former Budget Secretary Butch Abad, former Congressmen Blue Abaya and Teddy Baguilat, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Francis “Kiko” Aquino Dee, deputy executive director of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation, and Akbayan president Rafaela David.Left groups also plan to hold nationwide protests to mark the anniversary of the uprising.

According to Bayan president Renato Reyes, his group and their supporters would focus on opposing plans by the administration to amend the 1987 Constitution.

“The fact that the Marcoses are back in power and are aggressively pushing for Charter change (Cha-cha) is a grim reminder of the unfinished work of Edsa People Power,” Reyes said in a statement on Saturday.

Sustained resistance

“This generation’s version of ‘people power’ must definitely oppose any attempts by the Marcoses to perpetuate and entrench themselves in power through Cha-cha. We must do everything to stop the elite and foreign-driven Cha-cha,” he added.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman called on Filipinos to resist all efforts at historical revisionism under the administration of Marcos Sr.’s son and namesake.

“Just as history has shown us the dangers of sacrificing our sovereignty for self-interest, we must remain vigilant in safeguarding the principles of democracy and independence that the Edsa Revolution sought to uphold,” Brosas said.

Lagman, who is president of the opposition Liberal Party, also emphasized the revolt’s enduring value and warned against “malevolent attempts” to distort its significance.


“Filipinos must cherish, defend and uphold (it) against the malevolence of historical distortion and revisionism, and the importuning of those who would attempt the repetition of an inordinate aberration,” Lagman said. Last month, an advertisement paid for by Cha-cha proponents used the term “Edsa-pwera” to pin the country’s economic problems on the 1987 Constitution that limits foreign participation in some businesses.

Brosas said the proposed amendment to allow 100-percent foreign ownership of certain industries and increasing presence of US military forces in the country were “a troubling resemblance to past policies that compromised our national sovereignty.”

‘Not enough’

Castro pointed out that while the Department of Education (DepEd) led by Vice President Sara Duterte issued a call to hold activities commemorating Edsa was good, “it was not enough.”

She challenged DepEd to allow teachers and students to engage in activities that truly reflect the essence of the Edsa uprising—asserting democratic freedoms—while shedding light on the problems caused by abusive and power-hungry regimes.

Dee, also a coconvener of the Buhay ang Edsa Campaign Network, said the main battle cry of Edsa would always be democracy.

Today’s rallying cry, he said, harkens back to how the people at Edsa “stood up to kick out a dictator who held on to power for selfish reasons.”

“Those precise things that we fought in Edsa, that we defeated in 1986, they’re still around,” Dee told the Inquirer in a phone interview.


The grandson of martial law opposition figures Benigno Aquino Jr. and the late President Corazon Aquino, Dee said ongoing attempts to tinker with the Constitution, a legacy of the uprising, reflect similar “self-perpetuation” that Filipinos ended in 1986.

“Right now, thankfully, we don’t play with a dictatorship. So it’s not quite there yet,” he noted.

Dee said the four-day revolt was “a good reminder that we can demand from our leaders, [and] that we can call on leaders to have more than just their self-interest governing their actions.”

He was referring to the conflict between Mr. Marcos and his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte. Mr. Marcos rejected Duterte’s call for Mindanao to secede, while Duterte slammed his successor’s serious push for Cha-cha.

But while Dee and his allies may share the same view of the Dutertes regarding Cha-cha, he minced no words in saying that they were not welcome in the opposition.

READ: 38th Edsa revolution anniv ‘more meaningful’ amid Cha-cha drive — groups

“It’s very clear that our camp should not be working with that sort of opposition … because they don’t have the values of the Constitution at heart,” he said.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“To me, things became very clear when former President Duterte started talking about doing something extra-constitutional to oust President Marcos, or doing something like seceding from the country, which is against the Constitution,” he told the Inquirer. “So I think there’s no room for that kind of cooperation on our end.”

TAGS: Cha-cha, charter, Edsa, People power

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.