We commemorate the 35th anniversary of the EDSA uprising today by remembering the valor of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for liberation from Marcos’ martial law dictatorship.
The EDSA uprising that resulted in the dictator Marcos’ removal from power is more than just a four-day affair. It was built-up by decades of defiance of those who boldly opposed the US-Marcos regime’s vicious reign. It began with the First Quarter Storm in 1970 that manifested the boiling points of unrest among students, urban poor communities, and other sectors during a period of economic turmoil, and was ultimately carried to fruition by workers, peasants, youth, semiproletariat, and all democratic forces who have had enough of human rights violations, the state’s denial of the people’s civil liberties, and the overall erosion of bourgeois liberal rights.
Moreover, we remember the EDSA uprising as characterized by the scores of youth and masses who trooped to the countryside and took up arms with the New People’s Army. They belong with the great many people who were forced to go underground by the repressive policies of Marcos’ dictatorship that caused the abrupt dissolution of all democratic spaces, especially in cities and urban centers.
Fundamentally, to remember the EDSA uprising is to remember the decades-long struggle that gave the mass movement the strength and volume it needed to end Marcos’ martial law.
However, thirty-five years later, the Filipino people find themselves under a rule no different from the US-Marcos regime, save for being bloodier, a lot more nefarious, and incomparably corrupt.
In the more than four year of the Duterte regime, the masses in the cities have witnessed more state-sponsored killings and illegal arrests than those of past regimes combined. Starting with the infamous Oplan Tokhang to supposedly rid the streets of illegal drugs, Duterte has gained international scrutiny for being indifferent to human rights. More recently, these illegal arrests and extrajudicial murders have been taking place under the pretext of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020 and Duterte’s war against “left-leaning” organizations and individuals.
In the countryside, unparalleled destruction to land and property has been caused by intensified bombing and strafing, all in an impossible bid to squash the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) once and for all. The regime has also made its counterinsurgency efforts as its number one milking cow for kickbacks—borrowing billions upon billions to purchase war materiel. All it has been able to achieve thus far is traumatize peasant masses and destroy farming lands.
Furthermore, these fascist attacks never once missed a beat even during the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather, Duterte repeatedly used the CPP-NPA as a scapegoat and distraction from the state’s criminal neglect.
Almost a year since his lockdown started, the country is still at the exact same position. Covid-19 cases continue to rise while the economic crisis rages on at the same time. With still no free mass testing for all, aggressive contract tracing, and safeguards for the resumption of work and classes, and with rising prices for pork and vegetables, the people find themselves unable to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, Duterte and his cohorts are swimming in pools of cash that are deeper now than they were pre-pandemic. His staunch supports and gofers in the administration and military has been afforded VIP inoculation of the Covid-19 vaccine; and his emergency powers granted him the authority and freedom to control appropriations for the unchecked procurement of personal protective equipment, testing kits, and other necessities for a pandemic response.
This is on top of the ₱19 billion budget for his pet National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that has done nothing but red-tag groups and individuals. Now, the NTF-ELCAC is starting a Barangay Development Program (BDP) that aims to subsidize localities for their counterinsurgency operations. Nearing the 2022 elections, it will not be surprising if these “subsidies” end up funding the campaign of Duterte’s local minions. Less surprising even, if the NTF-ELCAC’s staggering budget becomes part of Sara Duterte’s 2022 Presidential campaign.
Now, as the country celebrates the triumphs of the first and second EDSA uprising and all similar victories of the mass movement, it is the highest and most urgent task for the entire Filipino people to allow these memories to collectively embolden them as they march toward the downfall of the US-Duterte regime.
With a political and economic forecast as grim as what the country has today under the terrorist and fascist regime, the masses are starving for his ouster. It is apparent that no type of band-aid solution can assuage the crisis and the worsening situation of the people.
Duterte has proved himself to be the the exact copy of Marcos; except this time, it is in high-definition print. His insatiable greed and fascism mirrors Marcos’ corruption and brutality. And even without an official declaration, Duterte’s martial law has long been in effect with his police and military running amok and committing human rights violations left and right with the unrestrained power they have been given.
As it was demonstrated in the past, the masses cannot and will not rest their faith on electoral politics, especially with the level of consolidation of power that Duterte has reached inside his administration and among his generals. As it was demonstrated in the past, the regime’s ouster is key to ending the nightmare the Filipino people are living in right now.
It is especially of utmost importance for all patriotic and democratic youth to brave the challenges of resisting the terrorist and fascist Duterte regime amid the state’s heightened attacks on the people’s freedoms.
The youth and students must integrate with workers and peasants and must at all times carry the calls for their democratic rights. It must learn from the struggles and victories of the EDSA uprising to resolutely and immediately remove Duterte from the seat of power.
More importantly, the youth must now more than ever embrace the life-and-death struggle of confronting a terrorist regime and accept the difficulties and sacrifices that it comes with. Ultimately, the youth must decisively and militantly imbibe the lessons of the EDSA uprising and join the Kabataang Makabayan and New People’s Army in taking the struggle for genuine liberation to its highest form.