What was 1986 People Power about?

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


The observance of the February 1986 People Power anniversary came and went this year, without an endearing statement even from those who earnestly want to remember and celebrate the event.

Speaking for myself, I was in EDSA for 3 days. It wasn’t about my wanting to see a government toppled but simply wanted to be of help to civilians in the event a blood bath should ensue between the Enrile-Ramos camp and the Marcos military. All that I honestly prayed for was for nothing like it to happen.

To the credit of President Marcos, I heard and watched him on TV give an exasperated General Ver a direct order – “Do not dare shoot them” That’s when I thought I was watching a great Filipino statesman rise to the occasion, even with his back forced to the wall. The rallying cries in the crowd to oust a dictator, to stop the massive conjugal corruption was suddenly lost in my mind. The overthrow was going to be peaceful, I felt the country can move on.

It is that TV clip of that epic scene in Malacañang that clearly showed a commander-in-chief under siege order a general to stand down is what I do recall every year each time we are called upon to remember how great the People Power was. No EDSA rallyist was wounded by gunfire. It was not about the toppling of a corrupt government.

I surely had no inkling that that I would be watching a year later how the military and police under President Cory Aquino disperse the farmers’ protest on Mendiola St., with guns blazing that resulted in the deaths of 12 farmer-rallyists and wounding of 50 more. That was January 22, 1987.

In February 1986, Marcos didn’t want Filipinos’ blood in his hands. On January 1987, Cory didn’t mind it at all. So what was the 1986 February People Power about?

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WANTED: PRO-ACTIVE LOBBYING. There is something puzzling about the long overdue resumption of inter-provincial bus transport in Pangasinan.

 All the elements that could vouch for early resumption of operations in Pangasinan, particularly in the campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic, were well in place and effective. The fact that Pangasinan is not included among provinces with high priority for the roll out of vaccine in the country because of its low level of contagion and effective control, should have been considered by LTFRB, before it even considered granting special permits to buses operating out of Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan and Pampanga.

 I surmise that the provincial government also took its status as a performing government for granted and relied solely on its records for the national agency to see, forgetting that active lobbying with national agencies is still crucial in any effort to secure what it wants to accomplish.

 So, even as the Pangasinan may view the national IATF decision not to be included in the first tier that will receive the first batch of vaccines to arrive in the country as a recognition of the province’s impressive record, it behooves our provincial officials to still push for the province to be included in the first tier. That would be more meaningful to Pangasinenses knowing they are being rewarded for being a complaint community.

 Let us not forget that each time a crisis besets the country, only active lobbying will work for any province like Pangasinan which is not a part of imperial Metro Manila.

 Our Gonz Duque, he who used to advocate “Playing with Fire” should lead that lobby group armed with enough authority to speak for our provincial government. I can’t think of any other Pangasinense who’s closer to PRRD, that close. But being overly careful about his health, perhaps he can be convinced if he is told he will be provided with a team that’s already inoculated with smuggled Sinopahrm vaccine. Ok na ba yan, Gonz?

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NOTHING BUT REGRETS IN 30 YEARS. I don’t blame PRRD for being overly cautious before he gives the green light to the proposed “face-to-face” learning pilot, at least not until the vaccines are in place.

I believe his reason is more political than anything else. For without a doubt, he will be quickly crucified in national media by the desperate political opposition for even just two learners that might be reported to be have been infected.

But let’s face it, grade schoolers in most communities under MGCQ have long been studying and tackling class modules in informal groups in neighborhoods, without face masks and loosely supervised by elders. And to the credit of largely COVID- free communities, there is .01% of learners reported to be have been infected for other reasons but not because of their informal group activities, compelled by limited access to internet and smart gadgets.

One thing is certain, without the normal face-to-face classroom environment, the quality of education of this generation of learners has already suffered greatly. It is bad enough that most parents and elders are lazy to read any material today and therefore, couldn’t care enough if their children learned anything from what they read in their assigned modules!

Still, the safest and more effective way of educating our learners and students would be to have them seated inside classrooms because strict supervision over health welfare and studies is given, that which is not present in most home study environment in towns and cities that are not equipped. Besides most parents have not been trained to adopt this home study policy with their children.

So, until we can have full resumption of classes in schools, the quality of education of this generation of learners is at risk.

For sure, the baby boomers will no longer witness how this generation will fail our people in the next 20-30 years, but the GenX and millennials will, with serious misgivings and regret!

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CITIES’ ONE IMPORTANT MISSION. Because of the urban population of four cities (Dagupan, San Carlos, Urdaneta and Alaminos), it won’t surprise anyone if contagion of COVID cases in their barangays suddenly rise compared to other towns in the province.

 It is in this light that the city governments should adopt extra measures to keep the numbers down by seeing to the stricter enforcement of at least the safety protocol in barangays and at the border checkpoints, on persons entering their cities.

 If other towns no longer need to operate checkpoints because of the more relaxed MGCQ level in the province, with more reason the four cities should continue to operate and maintain border checkpoints with one mission – to make sure that all persons entering the city (night or day), whether via bicycle, tricycle, motorcycle, cars, vans or cargo trucks are WEARING FACE MASKS! Those without face masks must be required to buy face masks at the checkpoints provided by an authorized supplier of quality surgical masks at prevailing market rates in the city.

 To be forearmed is to be forewarned! This policy in the cities will surely affect visitors from other towns not to risk not wearing face masks when entering or visiting any city or town in Pangasinan at any time.

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