Sunday, February 19, 2006
LIVING LEGACY OF EDSA I
EDSA People Power I, in its 20th year, challenges the Filipino People anew to re-live the “sacred memory” of that event.
The Election of 1986, massive in its fraudulence, led to the turning point when people shouted to the Dictator that wielded the Martial Law. “tama na, sobra na,” (It’s enough, it’s already too much). On February 13, 1986, the bishops gathered at the CBCP in Intramuros, had a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament led by then CBCP President, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal. It was after that, that they passed judgment on the massive fraudulence of the election. They then declared: “In our considered judgment, the polls were unparalleled in the fraudulence of their conduct… According to moral principles, a government that assumes or retains power through fraudulent means has no moral basis.”
Cory Aquino became the undisputed rallying point of the People Power democratic aspiration. Both Cory Aquino and Imelda Marcos had a separate dialog with Cardinal Vidal. Mrs. Aquino flew to Carmel of Cebu while Mrs. Marcos started to pack her maletas. On February 22, General Fidel V. Ramos, Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and a significant segment of the army withdrew their support to President Ferdinand Marcos. The bloody encounter of the divided army was aborted by the call of Cardinal Jaime Sin through Radio Veritas. He summoned the people to gather in EDSA and prevent a possible civil war.
There were no cell phones yet in those days. The thousands of civilians who responded to the call through telephone barrage brought not weapons, but their children, their youth… and pandesal…and their rosaries and crucifixes. For several days between February 22-24, the people of Luzon were at EDSA, while the people in the Visayas and Mindanao prayerfully cheered with them before their television sets. And they saw how at EDSA the people waged a peaceful unbloody revolution to drive the dictatorship. Thousands gathered, there was a multiplication of charity. Pandesal and biscuits were shared “like Eucharist,” observed Fr. Arevalo, SJ. Rosaries in the hands of the Sisters pressed against tanks. The image of our Lady of Fatima was brought in procession. Flowers were given to soldiers. Priests, sisters, seminarians and civilians unabashedly knelt on the road to pray for the country. Who could have made these happen? It was inspired “from above.”
The Dictator must have also been watching the television. How could he order the first shot? Goodness too has softened his heart. He also had made a heroic decision. He left Malacañang hastily and quietly without a shot ringing in EDSA.
I am sure many more of the people who gathered at EDSA are holding similar stories. To recall such stories is to be grateful…to be challenged once more…not to sit on the laurels of its successes, but to relive the principles and values that are left behind, as a lasting legacy.
EDSA I’s lasting legacy is the visio0n of good governance characterized by justice, honesty, credibility, accountability and integrity. We failed to pursue that vision, and allow it to bear fruit kin all levels of society. Graft and corruption started to creep in again. Or have they really left? Graft and corruption breeds poverty and poverty breeds graft and corruption.
But something good has happened and is happening today. People know what they are looking for: good governance, characterized by justice, honesty, credibility, accountability and integrity. They should not stop until they get it. The dry wood needs only a spark for it to become a conflagration! The agents of graft and corruption will be irrelevant once the spark of social transformation through moral values has become a fire that burns in the hearts of just a critical mass of renewed Filipinos who will relentless pursue the spirit of EDSA I.
ARCHBISHOP ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, DD
February 24, 2006