February 25, 2011
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA
25 Years After People Power, Filipinos Still Seeking Change– BAYAN USA
On the 25th anniversary of the popular uprising “People Power 1″ in the Philippines– also known as the first EDSA uprising– which ended the 20+ year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN-USA are inspired by the spirit of People Power sweeping through North Africa, the Middle East, and now even through the midwestern US in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Filipinos know from firsthand experience that social unrest will not stop as long as governments across the globe neglect the people’s basic needs and subordinate them to US and multinational corporate dictates.
Much like the upsurge that swept across Tunisia and Egypt this past month, the 1986 EDSA uprising proved the power of unity in struggle could oust a reviled US-backed dictator, as millions of Filipinos took to the streets armed only with the yearning for a genuinely democratic system. At the same time, Filipinos today recognize that the struggle is incomplete, as comprehensive systemic change has yet to be attained.
Over 200 days into its presidency, the Benigno Simeon “Noy-Noy” Aquino III administration has yet to pay due respect to the legacy of the 1986 EDSA uprising. Despite the cosmetic attempt of the Aquino administration to prettify the situation in the Philippines through shallow rhetoric and superficial reforms, the majority of Filipinos still bear the brunt of poverty, landlessness, hunger, joblessness, forced migration, human rights violations, and political repression. The US government’s militarist agenda in the country remains protected and upheld by the Aquino government over the public interest of the Filipino people.
Much has to be said about the aggressive hand of the US government in engineering a back-up plan post-Marcos to ensure the Philippines would remain a loyal US puppet state. Inclusive of this is the US government campaign to divide and co-opt the broad national pro-democracy united front that unseated Marcos and tighten its military grip on the country with a series of unequal agreements dismissive of Philippine national sovereignty. At the same time, the likes of ruling oligarch families such as the landowning Cojuangcos having control of the country’s governing system continues to spit out empty promises to a suffering and burdened nation. The fact that nearly 4,000 Filipinos leave the country every day just to survive is a main indicator of this.
The 21st century People Power uprisings have learned from the lessons of history, as the people of Egypt and Tunisia refuse to be content with the ouster of Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali, and they continue to press for true democracy and systemic change. In Wisconsin, a growing united front of public and private sector workers, along with youth and students are nearly two weeks straight with protests against the anti-people Walker Bill, including an ongoing heroic occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. More and more Filipino-Americans are awakening to continuing pro-democracy movement in their homeland.
Repression continues to breed resistance. In this vein, BAYAN-USA draws agitation and hope that continuous struggle for genuine national sovereignty and democracy in the Philippines, in solidarity with more people powers in other nations and even in the US itself, can succeed in weakening and toppling the global structures of inequity powered by the banks, corporations, and hoarders of the world’s concentrated wealth. ###