MANILA, FEBRUARY 25, 2011 (STAR) By Dennis Carcamo - Epifanio delos Santos Avenue or EDSA is known to millions of commuters of the MRT or passenger buses as a main road network cutting through various commercial districts in Metro Manila. To many, EDSA is merely a 23-kilometer stretch from Monumento to Baclaran and one of the busiest major thorougfares in the country.

However, EDSA is more than just a road. It has stood as witness and setting to one of the most important events in Philippine history - the People Power Revolution that overthrew a dictator.

On Feb. 25, 1986, millions of Filipinos from different walks of life trooped to EDSA, calling for a change in government and end to the 20-year-rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos. They wanted to restore democracy and other civil liberties they had enjoyed prior the declaration of Martial law in 1972.

With the help of key personalities in the military and government, they succeeded and forced Marcos and some of his cronies to leave Malacañang.

EDSA People Power also installed the icon of democracy - the late President Corazon Aquino.

On that fateful day, Filipinos left a legacy not only to the country but also to the world to emulate - a bloodless revolution; a change of government through peaceful means.

Fast forward to 2011, with Tita Cory's only son, Benigno Aquino III, as President, Filipinos once again would commemorate the 25th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution. While some have become skeptical or indifferent, many still believe that the spirit of EDSA lives on.

Though this year's celebration is prudent compared to previous commemorations, the People Power Commission has vowed to continue to imbibe its spirit in the coming generations.

Noy leads people power silver anniversary rites today (The Philippine Star) Updated February 25, 2011 12:00 AM

[PHOTO - People Power brought Pres. Cory Aquino to the presidency on Feb. 24, 1986.]

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino will lead various activities celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first EDSA People Power revolution today, acknowledging that much remains to be done because real democracy means freedom from corruption and poverty.

In his message yesterday at the two-day “People-Powered Development,” a local government unit forum on integrating community-driven development in local governance practice at the Heroes Hall of Malacañang, Aquino said his mother, former President Corazon Aquino had said that the true meaning of people power got a different face –not the millions of Filipinos marching through EDSA nor the placards bearing former senator Benigno Aquino Jr.’s face nor the nuns holding rosaries but rather preparedness –“preparedness to fight corruption and preparedness to fight poverty.”

Aquino’s mother was installed president during the EDSA revolution in 1986, which came three years after his father was assassinated in 1983 after long years of fighting the Marcos dictatorship.

The President said people power should not only happen when pushed against the wall and with no choice but to fight.

Aquino thanked the local government officials in helping him in building the nation.

“We are aware that not one person holds the solution to all our problems,” Aquino said.

“This is one manifestation that the spirit of people power is alive in your hearts and minds,” he said.

Aquino said instead of bickering, local government officials must lend a hand to one another, stressing that changes would begin at the local level especially in fighting corruption and poverty.

Aquino said the true spirit of Edsa was people empowerment, which was very much alive in the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (linked arms against poverty)-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services.

The 33 mayors implementing KALAHI-CIDSS projects in their respective municipalities received commendation from the President for their good performance.

“Thank you to these leaders. I will not have second thoughts in calling you heroes if you are indeed government’s partner in fighting corruption by not stealing from government coffers and by fighting poverty as well through your pro-poor projects,” said the President, who will attend today a wreath laying at his mother’s monument in Manila, unveil a historical marker at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in Ortigas and partake in a boodle fight, among others. Ae today

[PHOTO - People Power Revolution - EDSA 1986 at Epifanio de los Santos Ave. now EDSA Ave]

President Aquino will likewise lead today the unveiling of a marker on a spot at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration building where his mother addressed the people during the 1986 revolution.

New politics

For about five minutes, all ships of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that would be docked this morning will blow their horns as part of the EDSA celebrations.

PCG spokesman Lieutenant Commander Arman Balilo said, “All PCG and available commercial and other government ships berthed or anchored in the country’s ports and harbors are enjoined to participate in the blowing of ships’ horns to be timed with the flag raising ceremony at 7:45 a.m. of Feb. 25, in connection with the 25th EDSA anniversary celebration.”

Yesterday, non-government organizations staged a march to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition said that the historic event may have reclaimed the country’s democracy from a dictator, but it failed to give a better life for our people.

The activists stressed the need for new economics and politics “for our people to become truly empowered, prosperous and happy.”

Bayanihan spirit

The military, meantime, vowed yesterday to keep the spirit of the 1986 EDSA revolution alive through “bayanihan” and by working for lasting peace and security.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Ricardo David Jr. said they will continue to strive for peace while implementing the necessary reforms.

“In our time, we keep alive this spirit of bayanihan by moving forward and toward lasting peace and security, marching side by side on a path to positive reforms and genuine development,” David said.

Around 2,000 soldiers are joining today’s 25th anniversary celebration of the 1986 Edsa Revolution, which paved way for the restoration of democracy in the country.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and David will be marching from Gate 2 of Camp Aguinaldo towards the People Power Monument.

They will be accompanied by soldiers, police personnel and boy scouts

Enrile was defense minister during the 1986 revolt while Ramos was the armed forces vice chief. – Aurea Calica, Rhodina Villanueva, Evelyn Macairan, Alexis Romero, Mayen Jaymalin


Edsa at 25: Aquino Is Wasting Legacy of People Power, Say Farmers Published on February 23, 2011 By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO

[PHOTO - In a protest action in front the Supreme Court on February 22, Luisita farmworkers denounced the upcoming government-led Edsa celebration as a farce and sorry tribute to the essence of the People Power uprising. (Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio /]

"For Filipino farmers, filling a stage with actors and performers is hardly the best way to commemorate the culmination of more than a decade’s fight against the Marcos dictatorship. “It would have been better if President Aquino does something worthy of EDSA 1 such as announce the surrender of the Cojuangco family’s unjust claim on Hacienda Luisita,” Willy Marbella of KMP said.

MANILA — Wasting the legacy of the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising.

This was how Hacienda Luisita farmworkers and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) described the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the popular revolt that ousted the Marcos dictatorship and installed Aquino’s mother, Corazon C. Aquino, to the presidency.

“The Aquino administration is in the thick of preparations for the February 25 anniversary of Edsa People Power. It even had tarpaulin banners and high-rise billboards put up all over the metropolis praising President Aquino’s mother and calling her an icon of democracy. For us farmers, it is very hard to accept how the incumbent government is packaging what happened 25 years ago because for us, the legacy of the uprising has been wasted,” said KMP deputy secretary-general for internal affairs Willy Marbella.

In a protest action in front the Supreme Court on February 22, Luisita farmworkers denounced the upcoming government-led Edsa celebration as a farce and sorry tribute to the essence of the People Power uprising. (Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio /

Marbella said that for KMP, the assertion that democracy and genuine freedom were achieved after Edsa 1 was a based on an illusion.

“Farmers believed the late president Cory Aquino’s promises that she would implement what the dictatorship did not – genuine land reform – but this did not happen. The Cory administration refused to put Hacienda Luisita under agrarian reform after the ratification of the 1987 Constitution. She instead pushed for the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of 1998 with the help of the landlord-dominated congress and saved HLI for the Cojuangco family,” he said.

Marbella said that 25 years after Edsa, Filipino farmers are still being denied the land they till and that the neglect suffered by the greatest majority of the population could not be called “democracy.”

“All these years and up to now, the government and its agencies tasked to uplift the plight of farmers have denied the right of farmers to own the land they till. Farmers continue to suffer untold poverty and want. In President Aquino’s own backyard, thousands of farmworkers in HLI live a hand-to-mouth existence and daily, the injustice worsens because the president himself cares nothing about what happens to farmworkers and their families,” he said.

“Filling a stage with actors and actresses, singers and theater performers is hardly the best way to commemorate a historic date, the culmination of more than a decade’s fight against the Marcos dictatorship. It would have been better if President Aquino does something worthy of Edsa 1 such as announce the surrender of the Cojuangco family’s unjust claim on Hacienda Luisita,” Marbella said.

Members of the Edsa Commission, formed by Malacañang to handle the government’s Edsa 1 commemorative celebration, have previously announced a long lineup of activities which began last February 17. An inaugural coffee table book titled Noynoy: Triumph of a People’s Campaign, detailing the rise of President Noynoy Aquino to power, was launched on the same date.

KMP’s Willy Marbella said that “the assertion that democracy and genuine freedom were achieved after Edsa 1 was a based on an illusion.” (Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio /

“Major” players of the uprising are expected to attend the celebrations on February 24 and 25, namely former president Fidel Ramos, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and other members of the military. All the uniformed components of the government, the AFP and PNP, and the training institutes such as the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) will also be part of the opening flag ceremonies.

On February 25, from 7 a.m. to 12 midnight, the northbound lane of Edsa will be transformed into a party-ground as a food fair will be put up and Edsa committee member singer Ogie Alcasid spearheads the launching of the Tatak Edsa program.

The Edsa 1 activities will be capped by a fun-run on the February 27. Called the “People Power Run”, the activity will be led by the Ninoy-Cory Aquino Foundation and will cover a route from Ortigas to Green Meadows to the C5. Organizers also said that there will also be simultaneous runs in Cebu City, Zamboanga City, Dipolog, Angeles City, and the Bicol Region.

Alcasid said a song for the Edsa anniversary will be launched titled “Narito Ako Pilipino.” It will be sung by various artists.

Other officials of the Edsa commission estimate an attendance of 30,000 to join the activities, 3,000 or 5,000 of which are from the military.

The chairman of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) also slammed the celebrations, saying that the Aquino administration was sugarcoating its real anti-farmer and anti-land reform character by “resurrecting” the ghost of Cory Aquino and presenting her as an icon of democracy.

[PHOTO- 25 years after Edsa, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan still deny Hacienda Luisita farmworkers of the land they till and that the neglect suffered by the greatest majority of the population could not be called “democracy.” (Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio /]

Joseph Canlas, AMGL chair, said the previous Cory government all but destroyed the spirit of People Power when police and military troops shot and killed farmers holding a peaceful demonstration in Mendiola on January 22, 1987, an event that has since been called the infamous Mendiola Massacre.

“Cory also implemented the CARP which was useless to farmers but valuable to landowners. She promised to distribute the country’s agricultural lands to farmers, but she never did. Instead she implemented the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) program and tricked the farmers into becoming mere “shareholders.” In the meantime, to quell peasant unrest, she launched the “Total War Policy” which resulted in gross human-rights abuses,” Canlas said.

Now that Cory’s son is in power, one would have thought that the son would attempt to accomplish what the mother failed to do, Canlas said.

“But this isn’t the case either. After nearly a year in power, Noynoy Aquino is shaping out to be like his predecessors – indifferent to the point of cruelty to the plight of farmers. He has been feigning deaf and blind to the issue of the SDO and the demand of farmworkers that the lands of Hacienda Luisita be given to them as a matter of social justice and as a matter of law,” he said.

25 years after Edsa, the Cojuangco-Aquino clan still deny Hacienda Luisita farmworkers of the land they till and that the neglect suffered by the greatest majority of the population could not be called “democracy.”

Canlas said those who believe that the names Cojuangco-Aquino to be synonymous to freedom or the restoration of democracy in the Philippines should study history.

“They should rethink their views and find out what truly happened in the aftermath of Edsa 1. Noynoy Aquino is not the rightful heir to the EDSA People Power uprising and its legacy because he has already betrayed it by denying the farmworkers of his family’s hacienda their just due,” he said.

Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala), the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) and AMGL joined the KMP in a protest action, pressing the Supreme Court to release its decision on the issue of SDO and the controversial compromise agreement the HLI management foisted on the farmworkers of the sprawling sugarcane hacienda in Tarlac. The farmworkers also denounced the upcoming government-led celebrations slated on February 25 as a farce and sorry tribute to the essence of the uprising.

ULWU-Ambala spokesman Fracisco Dizon decried what he said was the Supreme Court’s “dilly-dallying” on the HLI case. He said here was reason to be believe that the Aquino government was leaning on the High Court to either relegate the case to the backburner and deliberately delay the release of the decision, or release a decision inimical to the welfare of the farmworkers.

“We do not understand why it is taking the Supreme Court so long to decide on our case. This is a matter of life and death for all of us,” he said.

Dizon added said that the Cojuangco-run HLI management continues to fool farmworkers into surrendering their rightful claim to the land.

“Life is harder than ever for the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita,” he said. “The Cojuangco management continues to take advantage of the desperation of farmworkers by buying them off or forcing them to rent their respective parcels of land for P10,000 a year for every one hectare,” he said.

According to Dizon, farmworkers and their families are trying to make ends meet by planting small plots of land with vegetables and rice, but everything depends on how far they can assert their rights to cultivate the land.

“HLI henchmen and military elements go around villages quietly pressuring families into surrendering their land rights. Soldiers in plain clothes carry small firearms and make the rounds of houses pretending to make friends with residents and poisoning their minds against the KMP and Ambala. Those of us who are active in the peasant organizations are banned from finding employment as farmworkers in the hacienda,” he said.

Regarding the Edsa 1 commemorative activities, Dizon said farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita are definitely in no mood to celebrate.

“Those of us who have televisions will probably watch the programs and news about it, but it is doubtful that we will be putting up yellow ribbons or yellow balloons. The meaning of Edsa 1 for the farmers does not lie with grand concerts or fireworks displays or anything like that. Edsa 1 for us is about fighting oppression and restoring true democracy. We are still fighting oppression, we are looking for democracy. Giving land to the landless and giving what the poor people need is democracy. Making sure that the working people are able to eat, have homes and enjoy stable and gainful employment is democracy. These are things we do not have now, so what democracy is this government talking about?” (

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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