EDSA People Power Revolution

[OPINION] Remember the essence of the EDSA Revolution this 2022 elections

Clara Rita Padilla
[OPINION] Remember the essence of the EDSA Revolution this 2022 elections

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

'We will be in a better position if we choose a president who has demonstrated honesty, leadership, good governance, and a track record of helping the underprivileged and upholding human rights'

Thirty-six years ago, we were at EDSA fighting against the Marcos dictatorship, a repressive and authoritarian administration where the thousands who dared to oppose were called “subversives” and killed, detained, or disappeared. Media companies were shut down and taken over by cronies. There was the bombing of Plaza Miranda and ambush of Enrile, all orchestrated for Marcos to declare Martial Law. The dictator had amassed wealth from government coffers and corruption, nepotism, and cronyism were rampant. Then the assassination of Ninoy.

The power of the masses was already felt when throngs of people marched to bury Ninoy and later on joined the political rallies to support Cory’s candidacy for president, with people chanting, “Sobra na. Tama na.”  Filipinos took to heart the campaigns and placed their hope in Cory Aquino through the power of ballot.

I was 19 then, a sophomore at UP.  In the months prior to EDSA, many of us students campaigned for Cory in communities and distributed posters with Ninoy’s photo and the caption, “Boboto ka ba sa pumatay sa kanya?”  There were noise barrages everywhere — in villages and in the streets with honking cars. 

I volunteered to be a Cory watcher at the poll precinct while my brothers monitored poll counting.  Together with my organizations, UPSCA and Nagkaisang Tugon, and other student organizations and students from other schools, we held vigils at Batasan Pambansa to put pressure on poll counting. CNN International would cover the student movement mass actions.  Many of us at UP skipped all of our classes to join protests for weeks on end without knowing what would happen to our scholastic standing. We just knew we had to protect our vote — the voice of the people.

Like many Filipinos, we watched with admiration and became more emboldened when we witnessed the computer technicians walk out of their computer stations at the PICC COMELEC count.  The computer technicians’ walkout was a historic and heroic act of defiance on the rigging of the election tabulations.

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A week before the EDSA Revolution, I summoned up the courage to write my first opinion editorial expressing my views against the Marcos dictatorship. I showed my op-ed to my father, an Ilocano lawyer who was vehemently against the Marcos regime and who gave us daily lunch lectures on the dictator’s human rights violations together with the background story of Marcos’ incarceration for the death of Nalundasan – the list would go on and on.  I told my father that I wanted to submit it to Malaya and, despite the risk involved of having my op-ed published while the dictator was in power, my father drove me to the West Avenue Malaya office where I personally handed my op-ed.

Every single day during the EDSA People Power Revolution, I joined the hordes of Filipinos at EDSA. It was an uproar against repression, a convergence of the hearts and minds of Filipinos to stop human rights abuses, injustices, and corruption, and to show disgust against the blatant disregard on the resounding vote of the Filipino people for Cory as president.

During the day, I was with my UPSCA-Tugon Student Council contingent, and during the night, I was with my brothers. I remember reading my published Malaya op-ed while I sat on the EDSA pavement, not knowing that there was an order for the Air Force to bomb the crowd at EDSA, only to find out later on that the Air Force had defied the order.

One night, my brothers and I kept vigil at People’s Television Network where June Keithley and company started airing. In the wee hours of the morning, with news of tanks nearing, all the women including myself, the youngest, lined up on the frontline with linked arms to face the tanks. I remember looking behind at my elder brother lined up way at the back, silently acknowledging my greater risk. But we remained steadfast just like the multitude of Filipinos who kept vigil at EDSA on what seemed to be endless days and nights until dictator Marcos was finally deposed.

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Remembering the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution now on its 36th anniversary, there is an overwhelming sense of urgency as Marcos’ son, Bong-Bong, is vying for the presidency.  As a people, we cannot disregard the human rights violations, the ill-gotten wealth, the corruption during the Marcos regime; otherwise, we will set out for the Philippines to fail with continued human rights violations, corruption, and wanton disregard for other people’s rights and welfare.

Voters must remember that dishonesty in one’s scholastic background, conviction for several years of failure to pay taxes, lack of track record in good governance, lack of program of action, and even improper disposal of one’s face mask show the negative traits of a person.  In my work as a lawyer for abused women and LGBTQ+ people, the negative traits of a batterer all contribute to their personality disorders.  Certainly, we want our country to succeed.  We will be in a better position if we choose a president who has demonstrated honesty, leadership, good governance, and a track record of helping the underprivileged and upholding human rights.  To me, such person would be Leni.

Last February 25, on the 36th EDSA People Power Revolution anniversary at the EDSA monument, it was reminiscent of the 1986 People Power Revolution. People spontaneously came in droves greeting ecstatic drivers who honked their cars while their passengers flashed Leni signs.

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With the EDSA monument as backdrop and the impending elections, there was a feeling of camaraderie in reliving the fight against the Marcos dictatorship, with chants of “Never Again to Martial Law” and singing of “Marcos, Marcos Magnanakaw” and “Bayan Ko” and incessant bursts of “Gobyernong Tapat, Angat Buhay Lahat.” 

The clamor for change resonates in the hearts of Filipinos with the sea of Kakampinks swamping streets, parks, and stadiums in support of Leni, in support of democracy, rule of law, good governance, incorruptibility, and effective pandemic and humanitarian response. 

Let us remember the essence of the People Power Revolution this May 2022 elections and let the Filipino people win. – Rappler.com

Clara Rita “Claire” Padilla is the founder and executive director of EnGendeRights. She has been practicing law for over 27 years and is known in the Philippines and internationally, working in the fields of gender and diverse sexual orientation, gender identities, and expression.