Leni Robredo

Robredo: Keep EDSA alive, from People Power to People’s Campaign

Mara Cepeda

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Robredo: Keep EDSA alive, from People Power to People’s Campaign

'LABAN LENI.' Iligan City goes all out to welcome Vice President Leni Robredo at the Iligan City Public Plaza, Iligan City on February 22, 2022.

VP Leni Media Bureau

'Puso at pagmamahal ang nagdala ng tagumpay ng bayan sa EDSA,' says Vice President Leni Robredo on the 36th anniversary of the People Power revolt that toppled Ferdinand Marcos

ILOILO, Philippines – Thirty-six years after Filipinos ousted a dictator, Vice President Leni Robredo said the true spirit of the bloodless revolution remains alive in people’s efforts to show love of country – from marching during People Power to the People’s Campaign they are now waging for her presidential run. 

In a statement on Friday, February 25, Robredo said the EDSA People Power revolt’s true spirit lies not in the surnames of its cast of characters, but in the love and freedom that Filipinos fought for when they took to the streets 36 years ago. 

Higit pa sa pangalan o apelyido ang diwa ng araw na ito. Ang kuwento ng EDSA, kuwento ng pagtindig at paglaban para sa pangarap ng paglaya,” said Robredo. (The spirit of this day goes beyond names or surnames. The story of EDSA is the story of standing up and fighting for our dreams on freedom.)

Puso at pagmamahal ang nagdala ng tagumpay ng bayan sa EDSA. At tuwing isinasabuhay natin ang pagmamahal na ito – People Power man o People’s Campaign; sa mapayapang rebolusyon man o napakahalagang halalan – kaisa natin ang lahat ng henerasyong nauna at susunod pa: Sa pagtindig, pagkakapit-bisig, at pagbubukas ng loob sa kapwa, sa ngalan ng isang maunlad, mapagpalaya, at makataong bukas,” she added. 

(Love carried the nation’s victory in EDSA. And whenever we live out this love – may it be in People Power or the People’s Campaign; in a peaceful revolution or a crucial elections – we are one with generations that came before us and the ones that will come after us: In standing up, working together, in the name of a progressive, free, and humane tomorrow.)

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, making it the darkest chapter in Philippine history.

Robredo: Keep EDSA alive, from People Power to People’s Campaign

The Martial Law years were a political awakening for the younger Robredo, who had joined protests against the Marcos dictatorship. 

Years later, however, the Philippines may once again see another Marcos in Malacañang, with the dictator’s only son and namesake Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading all presidential pre-election surveys so far. Robredo remains a far second placer.

Marcos Jr. is the bitter rival of Robredo, who narrowly defeated him in the 2016 vice presidential contest.

Robredo’s critics often claim that her victory in the 2022 elections would mean a revival of the rivalry between the Marcoses and democracy icons, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino, key EDSA figures.

Robredo is currently chairperson of the Aquinos’ Liberal Party, which had carried their late son Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to the presidency in 2010. Robredo is running as an independent in 2022, but key LP allies are running her campaign.

She has always rejected the false EDSA narrative being perpetuated by the Marcoses, who have used their vaunted money and machinery to sanitize their image and to revise history on the atrocities committed under Martial Law.

For Robredo, EDSA isn’t about the Marcoses vs. Aquinos, but about the freedom-loving Filipinos who fought tyranny and all its forms today.

Buhay ang diwa ng EDSA. Mapalad tayong makita ito sa mga nagpapakain ng kapwa, sa mga nag-aabot ng makakaya para tumulong sa nasalanta, at sa mga nagtataya ng pagod at oras para sa isang gobyernong tapat, na magdadala ng lipunan kung saan aangat ang buhay ng lahat,” she said.

(The spirit of EDSA is alive. We are blessed to see it when people feed others, when people help calamity victims to the best of their abilities, and in people who dedicate their hard work and time for an honest government that would carry our society to a place where everyone’s lives would be better.)

EDSA spirit of Ilonggos

Robredo’s office released her EDSA anniversary statement just as Robredo stepped inside Oton town in Iloilo, where a province-wide commemoration of People Power is set to be conducted later on Friday upon the orders of Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.

To this day, the Ilonggos’ resistance to the abuses and lies of the Marcos clan remain strong. So the province’s overwhelming support for Robredo and their rejection of Marcos Jr. in isn’t a susprise.

Robredo: Keep EDSA alive, from People Power to People’s Campaign

She overwhelmingly defeated Marcos in Iloilo province in 2016 with  573,729 votes against his 94,411. It’s the same story in Iloilo City, with Robredo winning with 137,662 votes against Marcos Jr.’s 33,778 votes.

Political leaders in Iloilo continue to go all out in campaigning for Robredo.

Defensor Jr.’s father, former governor and lawmaker Arthur Defensor Sr., once chaired the Philippine Commission on Good Government, the body tasked to go after the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas is also a staunch Marcos critic, as he had been among the young Martial Law activists who were detained under the dictatorship years.

Robredo’s key LP ally, the veteran Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon, was born and raised in Iloilo City and remains an influential figure in the entire province.

After Oton, Robredo will visit Concepcion, Ajuy, Passi City, Pototan, Sta Barbara, then Iloilo City. 

The star-studded grand rally at the Iloilo Sports Complex is being touted as the biggest Robredo campaign rally so far, to be graced by celebrities like former Eraserheads frontman Ely Buendia and Megastar Sharon Cuneta, wife of Robredo’s running mate Kiko Pangilinan. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.