Celebrating EDSA People Power 32 Years After

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos February 25,2018 - 10:21 PM

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

32 years thereafter, the spirit of EDSA People Power lives on. True?

Amid the continuing challenges to our freedoms and liberties, not a few would understandably sigh and disagree.

Others are getting exasperated at the perceived indifference of some to the attempts to dismantle the democratic principles we stood for when we overwhelmingly ratified the Constitution in 1987.

But, it is highly encouraging that in the past weeks and months, we are seeing a growing sense of unity and stirring voices from leaders and members of the Church, business, Integrated Bar, community leaders and the youth making a strong stand to defend human rights and the freedoms under our Constitution which are under serious threats.

This is the 1987 Constitution which mainstreamed social and political justice and enshrined public participation in decision-making, undoubtedly the result of the collective resolve to empower our people and the marginalized sectors and say “never again” to despots and minions attempting to mangle our rights, as Marcos did for 14 long years.

This is our Constitution which gave the Supreme Court the power and the duty “to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government” including the political branches, as a clear repudiation of how the Supreme Court behaved during martial law when it refused to decide “political questions.”

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, in his dissent of the February, 2018 ruling allowing the extension of martial law in Mindanao until 2018, described the Supreme Court during the martial law era as “Court that was complicit to the suffering of our people.

It was a Court that degenerated into a willing pawn diminished by its fear of the impatience of a dictator.”

We are seeing attempts to weaken our independent institutions, whose existence are so essential if we are to have the Rule of Law which our public authorities have sworn to ensure to protect our people and our planet.

The well-attended Walk for Life led by the Catholic Church last February 24, at the parade grounds of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila and in Cebu, to mention a few places in the country, was a march to uphold the people’s inherent right to life and dignity and oppose drug war killings.

In Cebu, Archbishop Jose Palma led the thousands at a dawn 2-kilometer walk “to protect the sanctity of life and family, the weak and vulnerable, the unborn children and those who suffer from addiction, violence, and injustice.”

It is significant likewise that the national officials of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines under the leadership of Abdiel Dan Fajardo passed a resolution creating a task force to investigate, document, and provide support for the prosecution of cases of violence against members of the Bar and /or their families.

This arose because of the unsolved killings against members of the Bar, who, as officers of the court, are duty-bound to defend the cause of their clients. The resolution, provides as follows:

“WHEREAS, there is a rise in the number of cases of lawyers, prosecutors and even judges being murdered or killed through violent and treacherous means, the most recent of which involved Atty. Jonah John Ungab of IBP Cebu Chapter, who was gunned down by a still unknown assailant on February 19, 2018 shortly after attending his duties in court;

WHEREAS, in one of these reported incidents of violence, involving Atty. Argel Cabatbat on 13 February 2018, it was established that among the perpetrators of the ambush was a member of the Philippine National Police;

WHEREAS, the investigation of these cases has remained open-ended or unresolved nor has there been any of the said cases prosecuted before our courts of justice, with the perpetrators roaming freely in our midst and with the families of the victims haplessly and silently bearing the pain and suffering of a murdered loved one;

WHEREAS, the apparent continued attacks on the members of the Bar, none of which had been successfully resolved or prosecuted, create an impression of impunity, wherein State forces appear indifferent and helpless, or, worse, in one case, even involved in such violent assaults;

WHEREAS, this impression of impunity, in turn, creates a chilling effect on members of the Bar, who, in the discharge of the solemn duties as officers of the court and guardians of the Rule of Law, are placed under a serious, grave and imminent threat to their life and family;

WHEREAS, it is thus of paramount need for these cases to be duly investigated, documented and prosecuted, where the perpetrators are exposed, convicted and penalized in accordance with law.”

As a member of the IBP, which was established “to elevate the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively,” I could not be prouder.

The fight to strengthen the democratic values that form the core of the 1987 Constitution is not waning at all.

It is one of the reasons to celebrate People Power because the seeds of compassion, deep love for our country and stewardship for democratic ideals re-planted 32 years ago have sprouted and will continue to sprout for decades and centuries to come.

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TAGS: 32 Years After, celebrating, EDSA, people, power

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