‘Greed, corruption brought down by EDSA People Power remain with us’
“The greed, corruption, cronyism and kleptocracy we brought down at EDSA are still with us today,” former President Fidel V. Ramos said on Friday.
Ramos was speaking nearly 30 years after he and former National Defense Minister and now Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, along with other civilian and military officers, led a “people power revolution” against then-strongman Ferdinand Marcos, his second cousin.
The former leader, who earlier served in the Cabinet of post-People Power President Corazon Aquino first as chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and later as Secretary of National Defense, however, did not elaborate on why the very same evils that toppled a perceived despotic regime have not been eradicated after almost three decades.
The so-called revolution took place on EDSA (Epifanio del los Santos Avenue), a major highway in Metro Manila straddling Caloocan, Quezon, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Paranaque cities, from February 22 to February 25 in 1986.
Recalling the reputedly bloodless uprising, Ramos told the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City, “We gathered at EDSA and made our stand against the dictatorship because we loved freedom, and were tired of the country we had become.”
“The spirit of EDSA emanates from the Filipinos’ act of unselfish caring and willing sacrifice… as Filipinos, we do believe that the best way to promote the spirit of EDSA is for concerned citizens to pull together,” he said.
According to the former president, a West Point graduate, the people-power revolution is a continuing process and electoral exercises less than three months from now can be summoned to keep the flames of change burning.
“With the coming [local and]national elections [on May 9], it is necessary to call attention to precious valuable lessons in our history,” Ramos told the media forum.
He noted that it is the people’s responsibility to elect leaders who can put the interests of many above those of the few.
Ramos reiterated his challenge to the country’s leaders to reform themselves for the common good, for them as “public servants and fellow concerned citizens to perform their duties selflessly.”
Despite the greed, corruption, cronyism and kleptocracy that he said the government is still facing, he said he still sees a bright future for the country.
“Yes, this country will be better. [But] leaders must play the principal role, they must carry the ball,” he pointed out.
The forum served as an occasion for the former president to launch his new book “2030: One World, One Community, One Family,” a compilation of his select essays, articles and other writings.
The book was written in time for the coming 30th anniversary of the people power revolution and within the context of the coming local and national elections and the threat of international terrorism.
“As Filipinos, we do believe that the best way to promote the Spirit of EDSA is for everyone of us, as concerned citizens, to pull together, uplift the common life and raise our country to a position of dignity and admiration the Philippines deserves in the community of nations.” Ramos said.
In the same forum, he reiterated his support for Rep. Leni Robredo, who is running for the vice presidency under the Liberal Party slate of standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd.
Ramos said if Jesse Robredo were alive, he would have endorsed his candidacy for President.
“I was very close to him,” he added, referring to Jesse Robredo, Leni’s husband.
It was on the eve of the start of the campaign period for national candidates in February when Ramos officially endorsed the candidacy of Robredo’s widow.
Although the former leader has decided on who among the vice presidential candidates he will support, he said he has yet to pick his bet for the presidency and will give his endorsement two weeks before the elections.
His parting shot to Filipinos, and especially to the next President of the Philippines: “With all due respect to everybody, the best quality we should adopt is to have one competitive Philippine team. Otherwise, baka hanggang beauty contest lang tayo magaling. Di tayo aangat [we might end up being good only in beauty contests. We won’t get ahead with just that].”