MANILA — “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.”
These words by American Muslim Minister Malcolm X aptly describe what some Filipinos believed and stood for to regain freedom in the country after decades under the Marcos’ dictatorship.
President Benigno S. Aquino III, in his speech during Thursday’s commemoration of the 30th year of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, said the years under former President Ferdinand Marcos’ time “was not a golden age” as insinuated by some people.
”As part of the generation who suffered under the dictatorship, I tell you just as directly: the time we spent under Mr. Marcos was not a golden age. It remains one of the most painful chapters of our history — it was why so many of our countrymen mustered the courage to gather in EDSA and in other places outside Metro Manila, armed only with their faith and their principles,” he said.
“We were able to unite as one people, and by the grace of God, we toppled the dictatorship without resorting to a bloody civil revolution,” he stressed.
Marcos served as the country’s President from Dec. 30, 1965 until Feb. 25, 1886 when he was toppled from power through the world-famous peaceful revolution.
Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 on Sept. 21, 1972, which placed the country under Martial Law.
President Aquino, whose family was also a victim of the dictatorship, said the freedoms that the people enjoyed during the Martial Law years included “the freedom to praise the dictator; the freedom to be patient as you attain an exit permit if you wish to leave the country; and the freedom to expect imprisonment for fighting for your rights.”
He, however, believes that “it is not our fate to repeat the grim parts of our past” since “our fate is the sum of the decisions we make in the present.”
“I believe in the greatness of our people. I believe that, even if we are known for our patience, it has its limits — and if those limits are reached, then no one will be able to stop the wave of solidarity that will follow,” he said.
With human rights now in place again and being enjoyed by all Filipinos, the President said the youth should not only enjoy and embrace it but also maximize the opportunities to learn about one of the darkest days of the country.
He urged the youth to visit the EDSA People Power Experiential Museum to fully understand their history.
“You grew up enjoying the freedoms that were taken away from the generation that came before you — where, if you reached your 30th birthday while fighting against the dictatorship, you were already lucky to still be alive,” he said.
“You will benefit the most if we are able to protect our freedom, so, God willing, you understand the responsibility you bear. God willing, we will all do our part so that darkness will never consume the Philippines once more. God willing, the freedom we so long dreamed of, will never, ever be taken away from us once more,” he added. Joann Santiago/PNA/northboundasia.com