This was the question raised at a forum organized by the Ateneo Human Rights (AHRC) in commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the People Power revolution.
Held February 23, 2017 at the Ateneo Professional Schools in Rockwell, Makati City, the forum “Have We Failed EDSA? Lessons from the People Power Revolution” featured 3 speakers who shared their personal experiences: Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, Atty. Christian Monsod, and Raissa Robles.
All three talked about the peaceful revolution that overthrew a dictator and restored democracy in the country.
Oebanda spent many years in the mountains as a rebel against the Marcos regime. Then known as Commander Liway, an 8-month pregnant Oebanda was captured by the military in 1982. She spent the next 4 years in jail. The 1986 People Power Revolution, she said, was a product of the sacrifices of many Filipinos.
“You’ll never feel the importance of freedom until you lose it,” she said. When asked if EDSA was a failure, Oebanda expressed hesitations. The power of EDSA weakened “because we fail to tell the stories, the real stories and the spirit of EDSA,” she said.
|Cecilia Flores- Oebanda was captured by the military in 1982 and spent the next 4 years in jail.|
Addressing the audience — composed mainly of Ateneo Law students, Oebanda stressed the importance of the People Power Revolution: “(The) EDSA (Revolution) is a testimony of why we are enjoying our freedom.” It is now the millennials’ responsibility, Oebanda said, to carry on.
Monsod echoed Oebanda’s sentiment, saying that something got lost post-EDSA revolution.
“We went back to our previous lives, focusing on our advocacies and as we went our separate ways with our separate causes, we lost something of the dream of the nation—the significance of our interconnected lives,” he said.
|Atty. Christian Monsod was a framer of the 1987 Constitution.|
Monsod, a framer of the 1987 Constitution, noted that 31 years after EDSA, the country still faces mass poverty-related problems.
“We have failed in human development not because of the constitution but because we have not fully implemented it, especially its provision on social justice and local autonomy. As a people, we must be willing to share responsibility for the present state of things.”
The third speaker, Raissa Robles, talked about the importance of speaking up.
“If you do not speak up, nothing will happen or something else will happen,” she said. The growing gap between the rich and poor also needs to be addressed, Robles added.
“Philippine democracy has been bent and slanted to benefit the rich and the powerful. Post-EDSA Philippines needs to implement social justice in the manner of distribution of opportunities in society,” she said.
|Raissa Robles is a journalist who wrote "Marcos Martial Law: Never Again," a book that provides a narrative of the Marcos atrocities during Martial Law.|
Human rights and peace advocate Ed Garcia, who would have been the fourth speaker, was unable to attend. AHRC Executive Director Atty. Ray Paolo Santiago read his message.
“We have to put front and center in our platforms of governance the elimination of poverty and inequality. Only by continuing to ensure that social justice is within the reach of all of us can we truly be proud to be Filipinos. In a sense, the true legacy of the people power experience is that human rights is worth fighting for and justice is worth striving for.”