25 February 2017 – Today we mark the 31st anniversary of a truly historic and peaceful People Power Revolution that earned global recognition and awe. It was a genuine revolution because it was the single event that completed a people’s long journey back to democracy from a dictatorship. It brought down a failed political system and its failed promises. It became the start of the building and rebuilding of institutions that found solid foundations in a new Constitution that gave power back to the people, put in place safeguards that said “never again” to martial law, and provided a framework for social justice and peace.
This week I spoke with some students at Ateneo de Manila University about my experience in this continuing journey of our people toward what Ka Pepe Diokno called “a nation for our children,” with food and freedom, jobs and justice for all. I was amazed how many of them were just hungry for the truth denied them by history books that play down martial law, and a social media community where history is systematically being revised, making the 1970s appear as golden years.
Alberto “Bertie” Lim, one of the stalwarts of the brave and bold Manindigan of Edsa I, joined me in speaking with the students. We simply shared our stories of living at the frontline of protest against a political behemoth—myself just a student then, and Bertie a man of business. We talked of how our journey back to democracy began with an awakening in 1983, when Ninoy Aquino was brutally murdered by “Stormtroopers of the Empire” or “Death Eaters of He-Who-Must-not-be-Named.” We talked of courage rekindled by the sacrifice of a man and the fear in our hearts that was always there nonetheless. We remembered with pride and joy the moment when the rebels multiplied, with small mutinies here and there, at one point taking with them the gunships that could have mowed down the peaceful protesters chanting “Tama na, sobra na!” We tried to express to them our euphoria and collective sigh of relief when, finally, the Emperor fled, even though we knew he had taken so much from us, and in that final moment of flight took away even more from an already impoverished nation.
The moderator asked: What was it like to gain the country back? Holding back tears, I replied that it was precisely because of the sacrifice of many to gain back our country and the heavy toll in the lives of those who truly loved our country that, today, I weep that we may be losing her yet again.
Dear Mr. President Mayor, there are millions of your fellow Filipinos that believed and hoped in the promise of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution. I recall very clearly that the mass action on Edsa was joined by similar mass actions all over the country, including Davao. We hold very close to our hearts the aspirations of food and freedom, jobs and justice for all. Many of your leaders have often told us that you have a big heart for the downtrodden and those left behind. We do, too. The Catholic Church does, too, as does the Commission on Human Rights. But, yes, we are not perfect; the bishops and priests certainly aren’t; the CHR’s Chito Gascon is definitely not. And we know that you aren’t perfect, too. And that is why we continue to support you, and continue to engage with your leaders and supporters.
Dear Mr. President Mayor, your good lieutenants can confirm this. I continue to support your 0+10-point economic agenda, where zero is addressing criminality, illegal drugs, and other security threats. I have difficulties with portions of point zero, but I am part of efforts to get business and the Church to contribute genuine programs to rehabilitate drug addicts. I have also not wavered in the furtherance of the Integrity Initiative to get business to do its part to stop corruption.
Dear Mr. President Mayor, you rule a nation divided. We need you to help unite us so that together, in a world of growing uncertainty and pessimism, we can build a nation that is solid, strong and hopeful, for our children.
Posted on 25 February 2017 under Business Matters section of The Philippine Daily Inquirer