The celebration for the 28th anniversary of EDSA People Power revolution will be low key according to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. Instead of holding it at EDSA where it was held traditionally, it will be held in Cebu province. The reason given was “because the province was the bulwark of the opposition to the dictatorship during the martial law regime” and “it was where Mrs. Corazon Aquino was staying when the military broke ranks from then President Ferdinand Marcos on February 22, 1986”.
Prior to this announcement, Coloma said the celebration will be held at the Malacanang grounds. He said it’s because they are being “mindful of the situation of the people” and are trying to avoid “creating a bigger problem on the traffic of EDSA”. Whatever the real reason for holding it far from the original venue, it seems this is the start of the end of an era for EDSA People Power celebrations and we cannot celebrate that enough.
While it’s all well and good that the annual extravaganza is slowly being put to rest, some say that the real reason could be is that Malacanang finally realizes that more and more people are questioning the relevance of the first People Power revolution. The fact that there was a need for a second and third People Power revolution in the succeeding years actually says a lot about the insignificance of the first. If I was working for the incumbent President, I would probably be worried too about holding the anniversary celebration at big venue like EDSA. It would be too obvious when only a handful of people show up for the event.
I mean, it’s hard for some to believe that the current government is “mindful” not to inconvenience the people – those whose opinions don’t really matter to them. As usual they are being inconsistent. Even at the start of the year, President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino already stressed that his New Year’s resolution would be to ignore his critics. But now his men are claiming to be “sensitive” about what the people might think of the chaos the anniversary celebration will create. In the past, they have never missed an opportunity to remind the Filipino people of how BS Aquino’s late mother, Cory supposedly “restored” democracy and freedom in 1986. I guess it’s time to accept that the propaganda is getting a little stale even for them.
The decision to tone down the EDSA celebration could also be an attempt by Malacanang to avoid receiving the wrath of Netizens who hold the view that the popular uprising was a big mistake. This happened to ABS-CBNnews.com when a post on their Facebook page asking how people remember Cory became something of a public relations disaster back in August 2013. The post generated a lot of response from angry Netizens with one poster receiving over a thousand “likes” when he referred to the 1986 People Power revolution as “the biggest mistake in Philippine history”.
Well, of course all the three people power revolutions, not just the first were a mistake. What do we have to show the world for as a result of those three events in the recent history of our nation? 28 years after the first EDSA revolution, the Philippines got listed “as the third most dangerous place for journalist in the world following Syria and Iraq” according to a report from the International News Safety Institute.
The report said 20 journalists died in Syria which retained its spot as the most dangerous place for journalist in the world for the second year while 16 died in Iraq, 14 died in the Philippines.
In the Philippines, unprecedented media killings continues to pose threat to the country including the unresolved Maguindanao massacre which is considered the deadliest single event for journalists in history.
On top of that, the “Philippines’ rank in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index has dropped two places to 149 from 147 the previous year” according to the World Press Freedom Index study conducted by international organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB).
There was no real progress, really. Sadly, the problems that plagued the nation prior to the 1986 revolution got even worse. Not only are the people in government now more corrupt, they are also more incompetent and vindictive than ever before. Proof of this is in how the elite members of Philippine society, those who rub elbows with the powerful, are back to being apathetic and indifferent to the plight of the poor. Meanwhile, the struggling middle-class and the growing number of lower class people feel hopeless and desperate because opportunities to lift their standard of living are getting harder to come by and they cannot trust any of the public servants to fix the problem, not even BS Aquino.
Has real democracy been restored after 28 years? Bribery in the form of vote-buying and voter intimidation by hired thugs is still rampant and even considered “normal” during elections. As far as freedom of speech is concerned, the people’s right to criticize just got curtailed by the anti-cybercrime law that was recently upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional.
Just when a growing number of Filipinos on the Internet were getting used to the idea that it is okay to criticize their government, the government passed a law to scare them into shutting up. While the anti-cybercrime law doesn’t necessarily say that Filipinos should stop criticizing their government, most Filipinos who are not well-versed in the law will try to avoid being vocal against government incompetence for fear of getting sued.
Obviously, some lawmakers who treat the Philippines like their fiefdom thought that the Internet has become their worst nightmare. These lawmakers, some who belong to powerful clans felt threatened by how social media has emboldened the Filipino public into being more critical about the way the public servants mismanage the country. Never before have ordinary folks been more vocal through blogs and commentaries on websites than in the last couple of years. But now the lawmakers have found an easy way to discourage people from criticizing them through the anti-cybercrime law.
Hopefully, the people will not give up that easily. Department of Justice Assistant Secretary Geronimo Sy explained that the law on libel qualifies criticizing public figures as “justifiable motive” or “good intention” when commentary is on public affairs. In other words, public servants like BS Aquino can be criticized without the critic fearing being sued for libel because each individual has the right to vocalize his or her concern regarding any violations and indiscretions committed against the people by the government. Obviously, the legal jargon is just meant to scare people.
The suppression of freedom of speech is more the style of despots and dictators. It is quite ironic that a law was passed which is perceived to be abridging the Filipino people’s freedom of expression during BS Aquino term. One would never have expected the son of the “democracy icon” to violate his mother’s constitution. Someone needs to remind BS Aquino that the law exists to protect the people from the abuse of government and not the other way around.
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