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38 years after EDSA, Filipinos commemorate People Power, oppose Cha-cha

38 years after EDSA, Filipinos commemorate People Power, oppose Cha-cha
A supporter holds a copy of a newspaper from February 26, 1986 in front of the People Power Monument during the 38th anniversary of the “People Power” revolution, which ousted Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s dictator father and sent the family into exile, on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, or EDSA, in Quezon City, metro Manila on February 25, 2024. (AFP / Ted Aljibe) 

MANILA, Philippines — “People Power” is not just a one-time event at EDSA but an ongoing movement against injustice and oppression, groups stressed as they commemorated the 38th anniversary of the revolution that ended the brutal dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Various groups and government agencies staged activities Sunday even after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. removed the EDSA People Power Revolution, which restored democracy in the country, from the list of public holidays in 2024.

In a statement, the Campaign Against the Return of Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) criticized the move as “a travesty of history and a direct insult to the people.”

“This year, [the Marcos Jr. government] ultimately crossed out the date from the list of holidays—at the same time trying to erase the names of those killed, disappeared and imprisoned under martial rule,” CARMMA said.

The network, composed of martial law victims, human rights groups, and freedom advocates, stressed the need for ongoing resistance against oppressive regimes.

“As long as injustice remains, and tyranny and dictatorship exist, People Power is and should be a continuing reality for our times,” it said.

Historians and human rights organizations have described the Marcos dictatorship as a period of widespread human rights abuses—including torture, disappearances and extrajudicial killings—and corruption that left the Philippines impoverished.

Fight vs Cha-cha

Groups also held protests to mark the anniversary of the uprising and express their opposition to the Marcos Jr. administration’s push to amend the 1987 Constitution.

“We are not EDSA-pwera. Because People Power was not only EDSA,” the Campaign Against the Return of Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) said in a statement, referring to the pro-charter change advertisement that repeatedly used the phrase, a play on “echapwera,” meaning “excluded.”

Marcos earlier said that his administration only supports an economic charter change amid concerns that it could eventually lead to amendments affecting political provisions.

“Marcos Jr. is using ‘economic cha-cha’ as a convenient gateway towards the ultimate goal of tinkering with the 1987 Constitution’s political provisions, which were largely born out of the broad anti-dictatorship struggle,” rights group Karapatan said.

CARMMA noted that amending political provisions, such as dropping term limits, “has always been a Marcos obsession to enable them to stay in power indefinitely.”

It also criticized the current administration’s Maharlika Wealth Fund and the “Bagong Pilipinas” (New Philippines) movement, which drew comparisons to the Marcos Sr.-era “Bagong Lipunan” (New Society) vision.

In Makati City, cyclists and joggers gathered for an “EDSA Freedom Ride” organized by Akbayan Party.

“While acknowledging that our constitution is not flawless and must evolve with changing times, we denounce any efforts to exploit constitutional amendments and revisions for narrow political gains, which undermine the democratic legacy of Edsa,” Akbayan President Rafaela David said.

Meanwhile, activists from Southern Tagalog reported that they were stopped by police at checkpoints in Laguna on their way to Manila to participate in EDSA protest actions. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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Credit belongs to: www.philstar.com

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