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Press on (Padayon)

February 28, 2011 10:33:00
Gloria Ramos
Cebu Daily News

Who would have imagined that Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the son of the country’s heroes, Ninoy and Cory Aquino, would lead as President the nation’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the unprecedented convergence of forces in EDSA to oust a dictator?

This scenario was farthest from the minds of the public then so determined to rid the Republic of everything that the Marcos dictatorship stood for – corruption, patronage politics, human rights violations, weak institutions and a silenced citizenry.

I can still remember the joy that filled the air with the news of the Marcoses fleeing the country. Without shedding a drop of blood, an inspiring legacy was foisted on the world – our People Power Revolution – consequently repeated by people from nations desirous of overthrowing despots. Recently, Egypt did it and removed their leader, the aging Mubarak, as we did 25 years ago.

EDSA is a milestone as it liberated us from the Marcoses, our fears, and with it, we doused our helplessness and the creeping apathy in fighting for our democratic principles and institutions. A dawning of a new era of hope flooded our collective consciousness and invigorated the landscape. “Never again,” we vowed, “shall we dance with oppressors of our rights and tyrants to our democratic ideals.”

Against all odds and several energetic attempts to bring her down, Cory Aquino succeeded in strengthening our democracy. We overwhelmingly ratified the 1987 Constitution as our commitment to make democracy work, even if it meant toiling with our sweat and tears.

But, then, just like the proverbial seven-year itch among couples, we became too complacent for comfort. Except for a handful who persisted, we surrendered our supreme right to engage in governance. Amid the utter lack of delicadeza among officials and persistent talk of unexplained scandals and pervasive corruption, glimpses of which are unraveled during the on-going congressional inquiries, we grew tired and just gave up. The nation went on a downhill spin, hitting the pits during Arroyo’s reign.

People Power 2 was a major mistake. Erap was dislodged from Malacañang, but an undeserving president was installed. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to our utter dismay, was worse than Marcos. She represented what we despised in the Marcos era and more.Under her administration, considered the most unpopular in the post-Cory Aquino history as SWS surveys illustrate, our democratic institutions again failed us, our human rights were trampled and unsustainable projects like mining, offshore drilling, coal power operations wreaked more havoc on vastly degraded ecosystems in our megadiverse country. We were also labeled a failing state. As Nicky Perlas aptly puts it, Arroyo not only mangled our political institutions, she managed to destroy our soul.

Cory’s death in 2009, like Ninoy’s in 1982, re-awakened us, once more, from our deep slumber of indifference. Perhaps as an act of atonement, and looking at the opportunity as a last crack at transformation, the electorate voted Noynoy as President. He is a living symbol of our hopes that were ignited by EDSA and our vision of a country that ultimately brings the elusive peace and stability that we long for.

We fully support the President with his espousal of transparency and accountability. DILG is leading the way in uploading data and documents in its website, and ensuring that local government units do the same. I am especially thrilled to see draft documents of memorandum circulars that are open for people’s comments and suggestions. Check out www.dilg.gov.ph. DENR, DOE, LGUs and all government agencies should follow suit to regain the people’s trust.

It should be emphasized that “transparency” and “accountability” cease to be meaningful unless people care enough to give their time and talent in enhancing the state of governance and the quality of living in our planet. As P-Noy has stated, he does not wave the magic wand in governance. But it definitely matters that he possesses the moral ascendancy that his predecessor was bereft of.

Perhaps being already made aware of the lack of consultation that the past administration’s projects were notorious for, P-Noy has declared a moratorium not just on logging but on mining as well. We strongly commend this latest presidential directive.

The moratorium shall hopefully extend to projects that were rammed down the throats of the local communities and caused the families endless suffering, anxiety and dislocation. The officials responsible for such gross violations of substantive and procedural rights should be held accountable.

On the 25th year of EDSA, I say to all, “Padayon” or “Press on.” Continue the renewed synergy now felt among stakeholders from the public and private sectors, including civil society, for our country to move forward, undeterred by the challenges posed by the global climate, economic and moral crises.

“Padayon” to the co-convenors and partners led by the Cebu City Government in organizing the Renewable Energy Summit on March 7-8 to be held at SM Trade Hall, Cebu City. Clean energy means sustainability for the future generation.

“Padayon” to the youth whose presence is now becoming visible each day. The Youth for the Environment (YES) Series hatched by first year law students of the University of Cebu is off to a magnificent start with a Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Seminar and Workshop on March 12 at the Cebu City Hall, in partnership with the Cebu City government and other stakeholders. This event is in accord with the DRRM Act and the DILG circular requiring the integration of DRRM in the LGUs policies, programs and projects to build more resilient communities and citizens.

“Padayon” to the students of Our Lady of Joy Learning Center (OLJC) under the nurturing leadership of Mary Rose Maghuyop. Clad as a nun and businessman and as teachers, the students were our guests in the radio program hosted by Phil. Earth Justice Center, Inc. (PEJC) at DYRC. They amazed us with their love for the environment and astonishing support that they readily gave to one another. “Padayon” was the encouraging word that a six-year-old uttered to her otherwise shy teammate. Her kind gesture inspired me to dedicate this column to her, OLJC students and our dear green citizen, Ms Rose. They represent the spirit of EDSA. Incredible.

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