Aquino: Time to honor all Edsa participants

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


CEBU CITY -- There are more heroes to recognize apart from those in the traditional ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the People Power Revolution. And there is much work ahead, for which the spirit of People Power will be needed.

President Benigno Aquino III made these points on Tuesday, when he broke away from the traditional celebration of the 1986 revolution by spending the day in Cebu and Leyte.

“The uprising of the people against a dictatorial regime happened in the entire country, like Cebu and Davao, and not just in Metro Manila,” Aquino said.

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On his fourth EDSA celebration as President, Aquino said he wanted to speak up against those who wish to revise history by saying the revolution happened only in Metro Manila.

Supporting Cory

When he addressed the crowd in front of the Cebu Capitol yesterday morning, President Aquino recalled how his mother, Corazon, came to Cebu after the snap elections of 1986 to campaign for civil disobedience, because Ferdinand Marcos had cheated to keep Corazon from taking power.

On February 22, 1986, Corazon was in Cebu when civilian crowds began to gather on EDSA to demand that Marcos step down. Among those who kept her company was former Cebu City congresswoman Nancy Cuenco and former assemblywoman Nenita Cortes-Daluz.

Aquino thanked the Cebuanos for caring for and supporting his mother every time she was in Cebu.

“As early as 1983, buong-buo sa loob ng mga Cebuanos kung ano ang tama o mali. Kaya sa huling yugto or huling kabanata ng kasaysayan, puwede nating masasabi na ang unang yugto ay nag-umpisa sa Cebu (As early as 1983, the Cebuanos showed they new what was wrong or right. In the reckoning of history’s final chapter, we can say that the revolution also started in Cebu),” Aquino said.

It was in 1983 that Aquino’s father, the former senator Benigno Aquino Jr., came home from exile but was assassinated on the tarmac of the Manila airport. That event made Corazon a central figure, around whom critics of the Marcos dictatorship gathered.

President Aquino also said the 28th anniversary of the People Power Revolution was also held in different disaster-stricken provinces to show the need for unity and solidarity, in the wake of calamities like Yolanda.

Yellow shirts

When the typhoon struck last November 8, it left more than 6,200 persons dead and damaged or destroyed around one million homes. It also flattened P39 billion worth of crops and public infrastructure.

The police estimated that some 35,000 persons turned up to watch the celebrations outside the Capitol grounds. (This figure is unconfirmed.)

The spectators, many of them clad in yellow shirts, filled parts of Osmeña Boulevard leading to the Capitol.

Senior Supt. Noli Romana, director of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said that at least 250 police personnel were sent to the area, including those from Regional Public Safety Battalion.

The crowd witnessed the “salubongan” or reenactment of the meeting in 1986 between civilian protesters to the Marcos regime and the military troops that had been sent to stop them.

“Cooperative naman sila (They were cooperative),” Romana said of the crowd. Yellow confetti drifted from above and at one point, a yellow ribbon made of several balloons was released.

About 50 members of different groups held a protest outside the Fuente Osmeña circle in time for the President’s visit. These groups included Bayan Muna, Kabataan party-list, ACT Teachers Partylist, farmers and drivers.

Struggle

They held posters and placards against the abuse of congressional pork barrel funds and the recently upheld Cybercrime Prevention Law.

“Wala namang problema (There was no problem),” Romana said.

President Aquino, in his speech, pointed out that although he celebrated the People Power anniversary in Cebu, there were activities in Metro Manila where the leading figures in 1986 celebrated with the People Power Commission.

“The struggle did not only happen in Edsa but also in Cebu, Davao and many areas. For me, after 28 years, it’s time to recognize the participants from all other places in the country,” Aquino said.

The EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) planned to highlight modern-day Filipinos working together for the recovery and continued development of the country.

The EPPC, headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., came up with the theme “Kapit-Bisig Tungo sa Pagbangon” (Hand-in-Hand Toward Recovery).

Although it was a regular workday, there were no classes nationwide in celebration of the anniversary.

The suspension of classes was also one reason traffic did not build up in areas affected by the celebration, said Joy Tumulak of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) office.

Security

When the ceremony ended at 10 a.m., Tumulak said, Llorente St. and Maria Cristina St. were immediately reopened to traffic. After the stage outside the Capitol was dismantled, all other routes were also reopened to traffic at 1:30 p.m.

Tumulak said that nearly 100 Citom personnel were fielded for the activity.

At the protest near Fuente, Andrea Heno brought along her six grandchildren, the youngest only three years old. She said they arrived at dawn and stayed in the middle of the street, bearing the heat of the sun, just to express their disapproval of the Aquino administration.

“Anad na ni akong mga apo sa kainit (My grandchildren arre used to bearing the heat),” added Heno.

At one point, Director Romana offered bread to the militant groups, but they refused.

“I am concerned about these children na pinasasali sa ganitong (who were made to join this) activity. Kaya I offered some tinapay but they refused. Wala tayong magagawa (There’s nothing we can do),” said Romana.

He said the police anticipated a big number of protesters, so they prepared a security force at least five layers deep, “with armor shields just in case.” (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 27, 2014.

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