Tell it to SunStar: Let the spirit of Edsa ignite our unity to rise once more

Tell it to SunStar: Let the spirit of Edsa ignite our unity to rise once more

There are days in public memory that begin to take on a life of their own: the Edsa people’s uprising is one such time.

From Church people staving off tanks with flowers and rosaries to a sea of ordinary citizens with yellow waves gathered in protest of a stolen election and unwanted dictatorship, there is no doubt that the 1986 People Power was an outpouring of discontent with what was and of daring to rise for something better. We often say that it was a day to reclaim our freedom, our democratic rights, and our civil liberties. It was a day for the Filipino people to rise in hope for a more peaceful nation.

The now senior generation who survived Martial Law as well as the stories of thousands of activists, opposition, and community leaders who offered their lives in fighting a dictatorship, including those who disappeared and never surfaced, are an important “beacon of truth” for us to still struggle for the peace-filled Philippines today.

Our country’s situation is far from healthy. Some may even question, what use was a miraculous Edsa People Power since our country continues to be trapped in a mire of foreign indebtedness and control, crony capitalism, and the patronage politics of the elite? Here and now, through Charter Change efforts, the 1987 Philippine Constitution is under a dangerous threat to weaken constitutional protections of our national patrimony, sovereignty, and democratic rights and freedoms.

The truth of the Edsa People Power shines like a guiding star for the people to rise and continue the struggle for just peace. We must draw together our kababayan to defend the environment from foreign plunder and protect the heritage of Filipinos from foreign ownership and control. We must unite and push for the fulfillment of democratic rights and freedoms enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Our struggle for genuine justice and peace in the Philippines is far from finished.

We must not ignore the cries of that bent-over in the sun-scorched fields of haciendas and plantations across this archipelago, the whimpers of hungry children along the eskinita of this nation’s overcrowded urban-poor neighborhoods, the sighs of exhaustion from informal workers and day laborers, and the trembling fear of militarized indigenous peoples, peasant, and fisherfolk communities. In listening to the cries of the poor, our common call to struggle for peace shines bright, a beacon of truth, a moment for the people to rise in hope once more.

We live today not with nostalgia, but with reverence for all those who struggled against the Marcos dictatorship. We stand on the shoulders of our forebears, like the unwavering Bishop Antonio Fortich of Negros and the unflappable Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila.

We remember the martyrs, often less known, whose resistance against a dictatorship cost them their lives. The Edsa People Power draws us forward in our quest for genuine peace based on justice, righteousness, freedom, and democracy.

Rather than Charter Change, the leaders of our nation should focus on peacebuilding. We must address the roots of civil unrest and armed conflict in the Philippines. Deep-seated injustices of poverty, landlessness, unemployment, and other inequities wreck havoc in the lives of so many Filipino families. If we work for justice, we can reclaim our journey and rekindle the hope of a peoples’ power.

The Filipino people must link arms, once more, and insist that peacebuilding is the way forward, not surrendering our sovereignty and patrimony through power-grabbing Charter Change. Let us be a new sea of hope that pours into the streets as a demonstration of the People Power we need today, one that celebrates being multi-faith, multi-colored, and multi-sectoral. Let us rise as an ocean for genuine peacebuilding that struggles for the common good of the Filipino people.

We say, no to Charter Change! yes to just peace!* (San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, and convenor, Pilgrims for Peace, One Negros Ecumenical Council)


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