In past years, the dates of the EDSA People Power revolution were declared national holidays. This means even workers had the day off. This year, though, it seems only students had the day-off. People with jobs had to go to work. For those who normally going through EDSA, it would mean slugging it out in traffic, a bad enough situation aggravated by traffic rerouting for the ceremony last February 25.
It makes you wonder whether whatever significance the EDSA I revolution had to begin with is slowly fading into oblivion.
Well, with president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino having three (3) more years left in his term, we’ll be very likely seeing rites or ceremonies at EDSA every year for that remaining period.
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Apparently, the highlight of this year was BS Aquino’s signing into law of Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. Now known as Republic Act 10368, it is meant to provide compensation for human rights victims during the Marcos era.
The sections which describe the compensation are stated below (Note that HRVV stands for Human Rights Violations Victim):
SEC 4. Entitlement to Monetary Reparation. – Any HRVV qualified under this Act shall receive reparation from the State, free of tax, as herein prescribed: Provided, That for a deceased or involuntary disappeared HRVV, the legal heirs as provided for in the Civil Code of the Philippines, or such other person named by the executor or administrator of the deceased or involuntary disappeared HRVV’s estate in that order, shall be entitled to receive such reparation: Provided, further, That no special power of attorney shall be recognized in the actual disbursement of the award, and only the victim or the aforestated successor(s)-in-interest shall be entitled to personally receive said reparation form the Board, unless the victim involved is shown to be incapacitated to the satisfaction of the Board: Provided, furthermore, That the reparation received under this Act shall be without prejudice to the receipt of any other sum by the HRVV from any other person or entity in any case involving violations of human rights as defined in this Act.
SEC. 5. Nonmonetary Reparation. – The Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepED), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and such other government agencies shall render the necessary services as nonmonetary reparation for HRVVs and/or their families, as may be determined by the Board pursuant to the provisions of this Act. The amount necessary for this purpose shall be sourced from the budget of the agency concerned in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).
SEC. 6. Amount of Reparation. – The amount of reparation under this Act shall be in proportion to the gravity of the human rights violation committed on the HRVV and in accordance with the number of points assigned to the individual under Section 19 hereof.
SEC. 7. Source of Reparation. – The amount of Ten billion pesos (P10,000,000,000.00) plus accrued interest which form part of the funds transferred to the government of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of the December 10, 1997 Order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, adjudged by the Supreme Court of the Philippines as final and executory in Republic vs. Sandiganbayan on July 15, 2003 (G.R. No. 152154) as Marcos ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favor of the Republic of the Philippines, shall be the principal source funds for the implementation of this Act.
While Rep. Edcel Lagman and Rep. Neri Colmenares hailed the signing into law, they called on Malacañang to make sure that implementation would be strict. Sen. Bongbong Marcos described the law as “reasonable” but added that the government should also find ways to compensate other human rights victims after the 1986 revolution. Source of the aforementioned can be found here.
Better late than never, but why exactly did it take 27 years for the victims to be “recognized”, again?
I half expected BS Aquino to let up taking potshots at Gloria Arroyo for at least a day, and especially on that day, February 25, since it is the anniversary of the 1986 EDSA event. I was wrong. I guess it’s true what they say: leopards don’t change their spots, and if BS Aquino can’t stop blaming Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Arroyo for all the ills of our society then he’s going to come out like just a whiner. Despite the claims of a rising economy, BS Aquino hasn’t really put up much in terms of accomplishments. And he looks to blame everyone but his own family and himself for what are their shortcomings too.
He’s still into promoting the laban (fight) symbolism. It is a fight where there is none. The time has come to build and bring people together, but institutions and laws need to be followed. A weak leadership who relies on a personal sense of right and wrong instead of exemplifying and upholding the rule of law will only serve to keep the country apart, instead of uniting it, as we so desperately need.
I can’t help but remember a few things Malaysia’s Dr. Mahathir Mohamad mentioned when he was conferred an Honorary Professor Title by the University of Santo Tomas. He had been blunt about what he thinks of free-wheeling democracy:
“Unbridled democracy yields mediocre leaders”
“No doubt democracy is being practiced by this country. But is it really what democracy is all about? Is democracy the end or the means? If we think that democracy is the end, then well and good. But why did we change from autocracy to democracy? Wasn’t it because autocracy had failed to deliver the good life that we wanted? We believed that since it is the people who disapproved of autocracy, then if the people were to rule the country, then surely they would rule themselves well.”
“We cannot assume majority of the people must be intelligent. In many instances, majority is not intelligent and minority refuses to be involved because they think politics is dirty. If you don’t manage democracy well it is not going to pay dividends.”
“Marcos was elected, he was elected after he was elected, power corrupts that’s what happens to him. Your choosing him was still a democratic procedure, look what happens when you make a wrong choice.”
“Democracy works only when the people understand the limitations of democracy. When people think only of the freedoms of democracy and know nothing of the implied responsibilities, democracy will not bring the goodness that it promises. Instead it will result only in instability and instability will not permit development to take place and the people to enjoy the benefits of freedom and the rights that democracy promises. No sooner is a Government elected when the losers would hold demonstrations and general strikes accusing the Government of malpractices.”
“Why has democracy not delivered the good life we expected of it? Simply put, it is impossible for the people to rule themselves. There are too many of them and they cannot agree on anything. Government of the people, by the people and for the people would result in a stalemate, in no Government at all, in anarchy.”
Those who would be quick to rebut Mahathir’s pronouncements by bringing up that he served 20+ years as Prime Minister, akin to a dictator, miss the point. “Marcos of Malaysia”, as some people term him, may have curtailed certain civil liberties but he got results in his own country.
We have to admit, the Philippines copied democracy off the shelf and twisted it into a license to do anything that we want without regard for the consequences. We may have been “free” but this “freedom” did not translate to prosperity. It is apparent that we were not able to embrace the discipline and open-mindedness needed to develop our country back then. We let politics and our emotional nature get in the way.
Let’s see the last stanza of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
While our Asian neighbors valued prosperity and discipline over “freedom” and emotionally-charged decision making, we chose the “road less travelled”.
And that has made all the difference.
А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. – But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.