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Filipino bishops voice dismay at 'people power' uprising

1986 revolution that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos didn't go far enough or credit God, they say

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Published: February 25, 2019 05:00 PM GMT

Updated: February 26, 2019 06:05 AM GMT

Filipino bishops voice dismay at 'people power' uprising

Protesters call for greater press freedom during the celebration of this year's anniversary of the 1986 "people power revolution" in Manila. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Catholic bishops in the Philippines have expressed dismay over what they say is the failure to advance the "unfinished revolution," during celebrations this week to mark the anniversary of the 1986 "people power" uprising.

Bishop Teodoro Bacani, retired prelate of Novaliches Diocese in the capital Manila, said the bloodless "uprising" to oust dictator Ferdinand Marcos was "unfinished" because of the "self-centered ways" of many Filipinos.

"We need a revolution of the heart that will make us truly say God and country first before me and my family," said Bishop Bacani.

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Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon noted the "short memory" of Filipinos, which he said was "lamentable."

He said Feb. 25th should be remembered as "one of the shining glories of our nation."

"I was one of those who joined the rejoicing crowd when the dictator had to leave our country. The whole nation was aglow with joy," recalled Bishop Bastes.

He said the "spirit of the revolution" inspired other countries to empower people to remove tyrannical rule.

He was referring to rallies in South Korea against strongman Chun Doo-hwa and the eventual fall of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

"[The people power revolution] is one of the great contributions the Philippines gave to the world," said the prelate.

He expressed hope that young Filipinos will someday understand the impact of the 1986 uprising.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the anniversary has turned into a musical concert, a political gathering and a venue to air grievances against the government.  

"[The revolution] happened because of God. He showed His power, and it is His power to protect and to perform miracles. It is so sad that God has been set aside," he said.

The prelate said no political party and no particular person could be credited for the uprising. "God made use of all of us to be His instruments of peace, of change and renewal," said Bishop Santos.

"Let us give back the credit to God. He is the reason why it took place."

He called on Filipinos to "remember and pray" for all those who "walked, stayed and prayed, the selfless, who shared food, the kind hearted, who wished and spoke caring and forgiving words to all."

The prelate said the "people power revolution" was about the bravery and faith of the Filipino people.

Priests, nuns and seminarians lead a protest march reminiscent of the 1986 ‘people power’ uprising in Manila on Feb. 23. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

 

Unity against tyranny

Days before the official celebration of the uprising on Feb. 25, various groups marched in Manila to call for unity against what they described as "a return to authoritarian rule" under President Rodrigo Duterte.

"No matter how tight his grip on power is, he would surely be defeated by the might of the people," read a statement from women's group Gabriela.

Migrante, an international organization of overseas Filipino workers, decried Duterte’s supposed attempts to rehabilitate the family of ousted dictator Marcos politically.

The protesters said the extrajudicial killings committed under his government's war on drugs is reminiscent of the brutal slaying of people perceived as enemies of the state during the Marcos era. 

Martial law in Mindanao and alleged human rights abuses being committed there are signs of a looming dictatorship, they said.

Duterte, meanwhile, said the 1986 revolution should inspire Filipinos to value and protect democratic rights.

"I am hopeful that this occasion will inspire all of us, especially the younger generation, to deeply value the freedom and liberty that we won," the president said on Feb. 25.

"Let us never forget the sacrifice of those who came before us so that we may always be motivated to preserve and protect the democratic way of life that we enjoy today," he added.

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