Editorial: Bastion of the opposition

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Monday, February 24, 2014

ONE of the raps against the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising is that it was staged by only a small chunk of the Philippine population at that time—-and that most of the participants were Metro Manilans. The intention is to portray it as an undertaking by the minority.

It is because of this that President Noynoy Aquino’s breaking from tradition and holding the celebration of Edsa 1 here in Cebu City today gains significance. It focuses the limelight on the least remembered aspect of the revolt, which was that it was but the culmination of a nationwide struggle against tyranny.

Every Edsa 1 celebration, the talk is always about former defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and former Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel V. Ramos breaking off from dictator Ferdinand Marcos and of then Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin helping civilian protesters link up with the rebel soldiers at Edsa leading to the crumbling of the dictatorship.


Cebu was only mentioned as the place where Cory Aquino, who later assumed the presidency when Marcos and his family fled the country, was situated when Enrile and Ramos made their move and where she took refuge to foil any attempt to assassinate her in the early stages of the revolt.

But Cebu meant more than that to Edsa 1. Before the open mass movement in Metro Manila against the Marcos dictatorship could become a deluge after the assassination of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in 1983, Cebu was considered bastion of the opposition.

Indeed, Cebu produced many important leaders of the anti-Marcos movement, just like many other provinces outside Metro Manila. It wasn’t a surprise that when Cory launched her civil disobedience campaign after she was cheated by Marcos in the snap presidential elections, Cebu figured prominently in it.

Even before Ninoy was killed, Cebu’s anti-Marcos posture was not kept secret. In the rigged 1978 elections for members of the Interim Batasang Pambansa, only the opposition Pusyon Bisaya in Central Visayas broke through the stranglehold of Marcos’s Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

Freedom marches were held in 1980 when it was still not a fashion to bring people’s opposition to the dictatorship into the streets. The protests only grew bigger after Ninoy’s assassination.

Edsa 1 was not only about Metro Manila. It was about the entire country. It’s time this point should be given prominence for once.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 25, 2014.


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