A broad coalition of groups in Negros Occidental kicked off a campaign against charter change and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) lawat a rally in Bacolod City yesterday afternoon to mark the 32 nd anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution.
Former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela and Andrea Si, convenor of TindigPilipinas - Bacolod Chapter, who were at a gathering of about 300 people clad in white and yellow in front of the Capitol Lagoon Park in Bacolod City, stressed the need to unite to preserve freedom and democracy in the country.
But Coscoluela stressed that he was not at yesterday's rally to call for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte, but to rally the people to be citizens involved in nation building.
People power will be wasted if all we do is rally in the streets during the commemoration of the EDSA anniversary, it takes more than that, he said, pointing out that yesterday's event was just the start of the coalition's campaign.
The broad coalition taking shape in Negros is not alone, there are similar spontaneous moves all around the country, he said.
“Initially the focus of the coalition is to fight against cha-cha because this is the most direct threat to the future of this country,” he said.
“Cha-cha, especially if it is done through a Constituent Assembly, will have many dangerous insertions that will result in a virtual Constitutional autocracy. If we don't watch, it they will pull a surprise on us the same way they pulled TRAIN on us,” Coscolluela said.
“This coalition, hopefully, will become the venue for expression of people power - to fight in a concerted manner because right now it is to each his own and we are losing the battle,” he said.
Si said the points of unity of the broad coalition, which aims to include moderate to militant groups and the Church, will focus on two causes – their opposition to charter change and the TRAIN law.
The various groups have already started meeting and they also plan to meet with Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon, Si said.
NO TO CON-ASS
The Diocese of Bacolod Social Action Commission has already indicated that the bishop and the Church are really against amending the Constitution through a Constituent Assembly now, she added.
BrotherButch Alcudia, director for La Sallian Formation of the University of Saint La Salle,said he voted for Duterte because he is from Mindanao and fell in love with federalism. “But I realize after one year that this is not the administration that should be trusted with the revision of the Constitution,” he said.
“I just don't trust these leaders…probably if we have better leaders and a better process, then, we can talk about it again,”Alcudia said
But just likeCoscolluela,Alcudia said he is not calling for the ouster of Duterte, he is calling for dialog and further education.
IN MARCOS'S FOOTSTEPS?
Si said 30 years later after People Power drove the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos out of the county, Duterte is following in his footsteps.
“A new strongman is spending heavily to empower the armed forces, destroying democratic systems of checks and balance prescribed by our Constitution, silencing the opposition, inciting fear and mistrust among us, disregarding human rights to life, liberty, and due process of law, and threatening to declare a revolutionary government if he is denied a ConAss shortcut to a federal form of government that would allow him to remain in power, “ she said.
That is why the spirit of EDSA must continue to live in our hearts and be passed on to future generations, she said.
“Democracy, freedom, and human rights are meaningless words to those who take for granted what our heroes died to gain for us. That is why we cannot afford to forget how freedom and democracy can be lost and how loss means a long nightmare of tyranny and oppression,” Si said.
She also said “t o celebrate EDSA People Power while avoiding the yellow standard that united us in 1986 is to succumb to trolls and tards. These purveyors of lies and misinformation win when we let them convince us that yellow is the color of yellow tards, of Aquino loyalists, of the defeated Liberal Party. Yellow is the color of EDSA, the symbol of truth and of our yearning for democracy and freedom.”
Other speakers at the EDSA anniversary rally were Von Maungsa for the youth, MarchelEspina for the media, and Delia Jaime for civil society, who all stressed the need for the Filipino people to stand up for freedom and democracy.
A statement from the Negrenses Defending Democracy distributed at the rally said anti democratic and repressive measures of the Duterte regime aim to subvert, alter and stifle democracy in the country.
“It aims to railroad its agenda ofCharter Change and Federalism through a Congress–driven Constituent Assembly where virtually the people have no voice or just mere token participation,” NDD said.
It also cited government's “ruthless anti-drugs war” that, according to human rights groups, has resulted in the killing of thousands.
NDD called on the people to “struggle to defend and advance the democratic gains of the EDSA people power revolution.”
Wennie Sancho, secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Associations, who was at the rally, said “We must remember that one time in our history the people had the capacity to bring down a dictator who oppressed the people.”*CPG
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