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Landmark law signed today amid EDSA rites

By Joyce Pangco Panares | Feb. 25, 2013 at 12:01am
27 and counting. The Edsa Shrine is ready for today’s celebration of the 27th anniversary of the People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.  Sonny Espiritu


PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III and his family will not seek compensation from the P10 billion fund to be set aside by law for the human rights victims of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the Palace said Sunday.

“Former President Corazon Aquino has stated in the past that the family is not after compensation but official recognition of the tragedy that was Martial Law,” deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said.

Mr. Aquino is set to sign the landmark legislation today to mark the 27th anniversary of the People Power revolution.

Under the measure, a Human Rights Claim Board will be created to go over the claims of victims, including all claimants in the class suit and direct action plaintiffs in Hawaii and all victims recognized by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation.

Aside from the reparations fund, the law also mandates the creation of a Human Rights Violations Victim’s Memorial Commission to educate the young about the abuses committed by the Marcos regime and the heroism of those who opposed it.

The anniversary rites will be held at the People Power Monument in Quezon City, with a reenactment of how thousands of unarmed civilians confronted tanks and soldiers.

The Palace will also welcome today children from various orphanages for storytelling activities aimed at imparting Filipino values.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. urged state workers to actively participate in the activities marking EDSA 1.

“Through these events, we will be able to recall the unity displayed by our country and rekindle the virtues that our people showed during that period of bloodless revolution at EDSA,” Ochoa said.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority on Sunday said it will field close to 1,000 traffic constables and street sweepers as the nation celebrates today’s 27th anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the personnel have been tasked to help man and direct vehicular flow along areas that will be closed to traffic, and street sweepers to remove garbage right after the celebrations.

Photographer Rafael Gozum has put up a solo exhibit in Balic-Balic, Sampaloc, Manila on the bloodless revolution.  Danny Pata


He reminded motorists that portions of Edsa will be closed and advised them to use alternate routes.

He also reminded them that the number-coding scheme is still in effect.

The ruling Liberal Party on Sunday said the people were now reaping the benefits of the People Power uprising, but the opposition United Nationalist Alliance said the spirit of Edsa 1 has been lost to millions of Filipinos still mired in hunger and poverty.

“Unless we free the estimated 11.1 million Filipino households, or 55 percent of our population, (from) the bondage of poverty and hunger, there would be no true and genuine people’s government as envisioned by Edsa,” said UNA senatorial bet and Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., the son of one of the major Edsa 1 figures, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who broke with the Marcos regime after years as its defense minister.

Another UNA senatorial bet, Zambales Rep. Maria Milagros Magsaysay, said the Edsa anniversary is a reminder to each one to cherish what the people had fought for, to protect democracy and ensure that Filipinos will no longer be oppressed.

“The platform of the UNA senatorial ticket is to ensure that programs and legislation will be passed to protect the rights of Filipinos, to put an end to poverty, and to fulfill the gains of the bloodless revolution. We believe that in order to do this, we need pro-poor and pro-development programs that will address the plight of today’s Filipinos,” Magsaysay said.

LP stalwart and Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento said that the perception that democracy has been abused by the powerful few was beginning to change under the Aquino administration.

“Through sheer commitment to good governance and corrupt-free government, President Aquino led the country with great optimism that the Philippines is now seen as the rising tiger economy of Asia and it is said to be one of the world’s leading economies in the next 10 years,” he said.

Even the political scene has changed, he said.

“This is the only election in the Philippines where even the opposition claims to be an ally of the administration and there’s no true opposition to speak of. This is the only partisan exercise where both sides are in agreement that our country is doing well under the Aquino presidency,” Sarmiento said.

Another LP official, House Assistant Majority Leader and Davao City Congressman Karlo Alexei Nograles said while it is true that the country is still mired in poverty and violence, Edsa 1 has inspired the people to work even harder to build the nation.

He said that all Filipinos should “thankful for the heroism displayed by countless, nameless and faceless Filipinos, who, in the face of adversity and threat, showed courage and love for our people and for our nation.”

“In the sight of tanks and guns, Filipinos locked arms to battle violence with nothing but love and devotion to their nation. We should also celebrate the opportunity given to us to rewrite history by closing a dark chapter and opening a new one filled with hope,” Nograles said.

But UNA’s Enrile said the original spirit of Edsa 1 has been lost on ordinary Filipinos.

“If Edsa 1 was truly a watershed moment in our country where freedom was reclaimed, sadly more Filipinos remain poor and powerless. Edsa 1 should represent freedom from poverty and hunger,” Enrile said.

“For the spirit of Edsa to live on, we must remain vigilant if we want to achieve real freedom with the power of choice. We must prioritize education and make it competitive with the rest of Asia. Let us join the fight of teachers for quality education because it will deliver us from our fear of the future,” UNA’s Richard Gordon said.

Former Senate president Ernesto Maceda, who was a witness to President Cory Aquino’s proclamation as the duly-elected president during the 1986 Edsa People Power revolution, said: “We have to work double time to achieve the promise of Edsa for a full democratic state devoid of government abuse and neglect.”

UNA founder Vice President Jejomar Binay said the 1986 revolution showed that a strong foe could be defeated if people overcame their fear and transcended their differences.

“We can and we must transcend our differences in order to make the revolution’s promise of shared prosperity a reality for the Filipino people,” he said.

“In 1986, the foe was the dictatorship. Today, it is hunger, poverty and unemployment,” he said.

The Vice President also said the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 which is expected to be signed into law by President Aquino Monday recognizes the heroism of Filipinos who fought the dictatorship and reminds us of the lessons of martial law. With Christine F. Herrera and Rio N. Araja
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