Edsa – we must continue the revolution

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


ON February 24-25, we celebrated the 28th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution.

Was Edsa really a revolution?

When the Edsa revolution happened I was no longer in Manila. I was already assigned as parish priest in San Francisco, Agusan Sur, where I was confronted with another revolutionary happening, the Antongalon massacre: 48 activists from the country side were brutally tortured and killed on suspicion that they were infiltrators in the ranks of the NPA.

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It was a traumatic experience for me, but more so for our church worker in the parish in San Francisco who had lost her husband and was left behind with six small children. After two years it prompted me to leave the priesthood and decide to marry her and adopt her six young children. I did not regret this decision but I never in my life had expected that I would leave the priesthood. It clearly was God’s will.

Manila was in jubilation because of the successful ouster of the dictator Marcos through people power. But in a way, I believe, the people power at Edsa is a misnomer.

Edsa never would have happened if it were not for the people power exerted by the activists during the martial law years. The so-called heroes of Edsa, Enrile, Ramos, Honassan and even Cardinal Sin are not the real heroes of the revolution. Sin became a hero at the last minute after 14 years of ‘critical collaboration’ with the Marcos regime.

Collaboration with the enemy is treason. That is what happened during the Second World War: people in Holland who collaborated with the fascist dictator Adolf Hitler were looked at as traitors and punished as such after the war. Those activists during martial law kept on protesting against the human rights abuses of Marcos. Many of my comrades in those days were arrested, tortured and killed.

They are the unknown heroes of the Edsa revolution. We may not forget them and we must learn from them that people power comes from the ordinary people at different levels of society. After Edsa democracy was restored in society. Democracy means people power, but we the people have to exert our power in order to make democracy work. We have to exert our power against corruption in government and in the judicial system.

While I was preparing this column, I had to go to the Bureau of Immigration to renew my annual alien registration. There is a new procedure in place and you have to accomplish a form that provides personal data of your family. Ironically, when I came home I found on my email the following message: ‘Commissioner Siegfred Mison first release order since taking over as chief commissioner on December 21, 2013 was to release a foreigner pedophile who was made a complainant by the father of a 6-year-old Filipina that had been raped three times by the foreigner. A Bureau of Immigration staff official who was so disgusted by the release order has provided a copy and has asked that it be publicly revealed’. The internet provides the picture of Commissioner Siegfred Mison and a picture of the rape victim. Respectfully, Foreigners for Justice, it says. One can see the message and the pictures on internet: http//shameless immigration blogspot com/2014/02. Please check it. It is our responsibility and obligation to bring about revolutionary changes in the systems of our society.

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 27, 2014.

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