One Step

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Mabel P. Villarica-Mamba

Mabel P. Villarica-Mamba

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
– Lao Tzu

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The darkest days of the Philippines’ modern history were during Martial Law. The suffering seemed endless, most especially for those who lost and never found their loved ones; for those who have lost and can never turn back time; for those who have lost and will never regain their dignity.

And yet, Martial Law ended. Later, the Marcos dictatorship fell. The bravery of some soon became the bravery of many.

Students, farmers, laborers, professionals and ordinary people sacrificed their lives to fight for freedom under the Marcos Regime. With that one step made by numerous, countless, faceless people, democracy was restored. One step former Senator Ninoy Aquino took his life but woke his countrymen to action. The EDSA People Power Revolution was the tipping point.

As a result, President Cory Aquino’s term gave us hope that good governance is possible with a clean and honest leadership. President Cory inspired us about simplicity, humility and sincerity in public service.

Twenty-four years later, it is her son’s turn. Like his mother, PNoy gave us hope that corruption can be eradicated, that corrupt people can be brought to justice. For the second time in our nation’s history, a president was charged with plunder. For the first time, a Chief Justice was impeached and several senators were also charged with plunder.

Unfortunately, some things have not changed.

The recent stories of corruption, decadence and depravity are not much different from the excesses of Martial Law and the Marcos dictatorship. The abuse of power, lust for money and unfathomable greed are so nightmarishly familiar.

How could it not?

Irony of ironies, one of those responsible for the declaration and implementation of Martial Law is one of the main players during the People Power Revolution at EDSA. The same one, who is one of the first appointees of President Cory to her cabinet, is the first one she fired and the same one suspected of masterminding the 1987 coup against her. The same one reinvented himself as a statesman in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Corona and is now one of those involved in the PDAF scam and other illegal activities in the country. The same one authored the law creating the Cagayan Economic Zone Administration (CEZA) and declared he would know if anything illegal would happen at CEZA, and if there was, he would be the one committing it.

An in-depth study conducted by another broadsheet revealed about a controversial P5.1 billion breakwater project there. The breakwater is only 1,000 meters long. Simple arithmetic will show that the project cost us taxpayers P5 million pesos per meter. According to a structural engineering expert, the same project should have only amounted to P500 million pesos total or only a tenth thereof.

How about black sand or magnetite mining in the same province of Cagayan? Thousands of tons of magnetite are smuggled out of the country using Port Irene inside CEZA. More than the money lost that should go to government coffers, what is more revolting and irreversible, is the destruction wreaked on the environment.

We celebrate 28 years of the EDSA People Power Revolution today. Yes, there is still much to celebrate even if we did not do it along EDSA. EDSA is not about the place. It is not about the highway. EDSA can be celebrated anywhere.

EDSA is not about recreating the events that led to the Marcoses’ hurried and harried flight, and retracing the steps from Camp Aguinaldo to Camp Crame. It is not about the flowers and the balloons, the speeches and the captive audience. It is not about who and how many came.

We celebrate EDSA for that one step each of us took, 28 years ago or much earlier than that, or even just last week when Ruby Tuason testified she delivered money to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Atty. Gigi Reyes, or late last year when Benhur Luy first testified in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.

EDSA is about fighting against corruption. It is about battling dishonesty, abuses and greed.

We may have won the battle 28 years ago but the war is not over. All it takes is one step, and perhaps another.

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