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Robredo on EDSA: ‘Collective resolve’ needed to fight threats to democracy

Thirty-five years after the Philippines toppled a dictator, Vice President Leni Robredo believes only the “collective resolve” of Filipinos can defeat today's threats to the nation's democracy.

Robredo acknowledged on Thursday, February 25, that the promise of the EDSA People Power Revolution remains unfulfilled, but the opposition leader is optimistic that Filipinos will be able to join hands again to protect their hard-won freedoms. 

“Today, 35 years after, we renew our faith in this fundamental truth of EDSA: That our people, standing united, can never be defeated. We affirm this truth, even as we acknowledge that the promise of EDSA has not yet been completely fulfilled,” said the Vice President in a statement.

“Today, we are reminded of what we can do, marching towards a shared horizon, bound not only by the crisis we face, but by our collective resolve to truly achieve the promise articulated 35 years ago – isang lipunang mas malaya, mas makatarungan, at mas makatao (a society that is free, just, and humane),” added Robredo.

The Vice President said democracy is “still under constant threat” as there are efforts to “revise history for the personal agenda of a powerful few.”

This is a jab against the clan of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr, which has spent the past decades attempting to erase Filipinos’ memories of the abuses and atrocities committed during the Martial Law years under the family patriarch.

Marcos’ 21-year rule was marred by corruption, killings, torture, disappearances, and media oppression. Amnesty International estimated that about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 killed during Martial Law.

The Vice President herself faced an electoral protest filed by Marcos’ only son and namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. But after over 4 years of litigation, the Supreme Court dismissed the case in its entirety. 

Robredo delivered her EDSA anniversary message as democracy continues to be threatened under President Rodrigo Duterte, who counts the Marcoses as his allies.

Duterte has created a climate of fear by threatening institutions meant to check his power and have intensified his crackdown on critics by signing the controversial anti-terrorism law. 

Press freedom is also under attack, with multiple cases filed against Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa, and broadcast giant ABS-CBN being forced to shut down in 2020. The last time ABS-CBN went off-air was in 1972, just before Marcos declared Martial Law. 

'Find strength' to fulfill promise of EDSA

Robredo said Filipinos are now challenged to continue doing the work that must be done to fulfill the promise of EDSA.

“The challenge now is this: We must find within ourselves that strength, that faith, that fire to continue the work that remains to be done. And in doing so, we must find a way to walk forward together,” said the Vice President. 

“Ito ang pinakamahalagang aral ng EDSA, at ito rin mismo ang kailangan natin para malagpasan ang mga hamon ng pandemya at ng kasalukuyang panahon: na ang sagot sa mga suliranin natin, hindi iisa, kundi bawat isa,” she added. 

(This is the most important lesson of EDSA and this is also what we need to get through the challenges of the pandemic and the current times: that the answers to our solutions isn’t just one thing, but each other.)

Marcos was ousted during the 1986 EDSA People Revolution. But years later, his clan has successfully returned to politics, with daughter Imee in the Senate, and other family members holding key posts in the Ilocos region. 

Imelda Marcos, the dictator’s wife, had served as Ilocos Norte 2nd District congresswoman, and also as Leyte 1st District congresswoman.

Bongbong was also a senator before he ran but failed to win as vice president in 2016. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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