CEBU, Philippines – Labor unions and human rights advocates will lead the celebration of the 37th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA “People Power” Revolution on Friday, February 24, in Cebu City.
The groups would start gathering at Fuente Osmeña just like what happened in 1986 when thousands of Cebuanos took to the streets up to Camp Sergio Osmeña, Dennise Abarrientos, the secretary-general of civil rights group Karapatan in Central Visayas, said on Tuesday, February 21.
Abarrientos told a news conference that organizers would reenact the Cebu protests which took place during the 1986 revolt that ousted the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos and sent his family, including his namesake and now president Ferdinand Jr., to exile.
Cebu is where the first few protests against the Marcos dictatorship sprung up outside Metro Manila.
In a speech, the late president Benigno Aquino III said the first chapter of the People Power Revolution happened in Cebu.
Cebu was also where his mother, the late president Corazon Aquino, sought refuge in February 1986, right after the snap elections called by Marcos.
The Carmelite nuns of the Carmelite Monastery in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City, took her in and pledged to keep her safe until the late dictator and his family fled the Philippines.
Just like in the days of dictatorship, human rights have remained an issue hounding the government, especially during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte.
“For this one, Friday, we want to highlight the recommendations of the United Nations human rights committee… which include the investigation of human rights violations,” Abarrientos said.
The human rights advocate cited data from the Karapatan-Central Visayas between July 2022 to November 2022 alone which tallied 15 cases of extra-judicial killings, and 3,000 cases of arrests that resulted in 320 cases of illegal arrests and detention.
Under another Marcos
“Bongbong [Ferdinand Marcos Jr.] is still in his first year (as president) but we are already seeing the trend towards his authoritarianism where the policies and the military’s interest are higher in his governance,” Abarrientos said.
Abarrientos stressed the need for the Marcos Jr. administration to acknowledge the rights of unionists and human rights advocates to be protected from illegal arrests due to their activism.
A recent case in Cebu City was the January 10 abduction of development workers and labor rights advocates Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha at a crowded pier.
For days, they were held in handcuffs, blindfolded, gagged at times, and threatened with execution.
“We are demanding the release of all political prisoners,” Abarrientos said. – Rappler.com
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