2022 Philippine Elections

EDSA 36: Candidates remember Martial Law abuses before 2022 polls

Dwight de Leon
EDSA 36: Candidates remember Martial Law abuses before 2022 polls

Members of Akbayan Youth gather at the EDSA People Power Monument on February 20, 2022 to commemorate the 36th anniversary of the People Power that toppled the dictatorship of then-president Ferdinand Marcos.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) The commemoration of the historic demonstrations is of greater importance this year, as it comes on the heels of the potential ascent to Malacañang of the late dictator's namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – A number of presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the 2022 polls have issued statements remembering the 36th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA uprising, a bloodless revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.

The commemoration of the historic demonstrations is of greater importance this year, as it comes on the heels of the potential ascent to Malacañang of the late dictator’s namesake, presidential frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

EDSA 36: Candidates remember Martial Law abuses before 2022 polls

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, who’s running for president, said EDSA 1 is a reminder that people in government should not abuse their power.

“The youth, in the case of 1986, should always remember that the powers of the president came from the people. It was the people who gave it, and took it back,” he said in Filipino on February 17.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, who is running in 2022 in a bid to succeed Vice President and his running mate Leni Robredo, asserted that the series of successful protests took place because the public was thirsty for change.

“Let us not forget that EDSA 1 happened because Filipinos wanted a clean and working government in which the people in it do not abuse their powers,” he said on February 22, as reported by GMA News.

Pangilinan’s rival for the vice-presidential race, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, shared that EDSA 1 was one of the most unforgettable moments of his life.

“That inspired me to compose the song Magkaisa which I finished in two or three days, by February 25,” Sotto recalled on February 17, referring to one of the anthems of the peaceful uprising.

Sotto’s presidential candidate, Senator Panfilo Lacson, said Marcos’ martial rule was a dark time in Philippine history that should never be repeated.

“The first few weeks were okay, but, over time, it was abused and abused, until it reached the People Power Revolution,” Lacson said on February 17.

The tandem of presidential and vice-presidential aspirants Leody de Guzman and Walden Bello, meanwhile, said that the People Power anniversary is a stark reminder to finally work on the historic event’s unfulfilled promises.

“My brand of leadership is fulfilling EDSA’s shortcomings. The EDSA revolt fell short because elitists returned to the driver’s seat and put on pause a mass uprising,” De Guzman said in Filipino on February 19.

“It was a historic moment in the struggle of our people, but it was coopted by Washington into a conservative direction and derailed by elite politicians who felt EDSA meant democracy for them but continuing exclusion for the vast majority of our people,” Bello added in a separate interview on February 24.

Senator and vice presidential candidate Kiko Pangilinan said the peaceful uprising was the rebirth of the country. 

“EDSA was the culmination of a long, bloody struggle against the dictatorship that started small but ballooned – went viral in today’s language – almost overnight. EDSA was the rebirth of our nation,” Pangilinan said. 

Pangilinan added that the EDSA revolution is like a “miracle.” 

“Kaya parang himala. Parang tinadhana. Hindi mo aakalain na puwede kang magpatalsik ng diktador. Nagbunga ang tinanim na tapang, na katotohanan, na liwanag noong dalawampung taon ng one-man rule,” he said. 

(It’s like a miracle. It seemed destined. You’d never think that you can oust a dictator. The seeds of courage, truth, and light that had been sown during the 20-year one-man rule finally bore fruit.)

The culimination of the EDSA Revolution on February 25, 1986 ended the dictatorship of Marcos, who ruled for over 20 years – nine of them under Martial Law. That period is known as the dark chapter of Philippine history when 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 killed, according to Amnesty International. – With a report from Jairo Bolledo/Rappler.com

EDSA 36: Candidates remember Martial Law abuses before 2022 polls

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.