Saturday, February 23, 2008

RP Military Chief Remembers 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution

Philippine Armed Forces Chief General Hermogenes Esperon speaks on mobile phone during a visit in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)


The spirit of EDSA emanates from the Filipinos’ act of self-giving, of believing that aspirations could be achieved thru peaceful and non-violent means. The spirit of EDSA reminds us that every citizen, poor or rich, young or old, lowly or elite, military or civilian, can make a difference.

EDSA regained for us our democratic way of life. Whether or not you were in EDSA in 1986, the spirit calls all of us to strengthen democracy and its institutions. People power and civil society must make those institutions work so that democracy will always be with us. We went back to EDSA again in 2001 if only to recommit ourselves to the spirit, and make necessary corrections.

The military was and is a proud part of people power, but the military must not be coaxed to lead or join another EDSA. The challenge is for civil society to make democracy work; the more that the military intervenes, the more that democratic institutions weaken.

Let us believe in reasonable Senate hearings. Let us make sure those Senate hearings lead to cases filed in court or to bills filed. Let us believe in the Courts and the Ombudsman. Let us believe in peaceful assemblies. Let us believe in democratic process including impeachments. Let us believe in democracy. We can’t afford to weaken it, much more lose it again.

The military should ensure that the democratic institutions and processes could freely function. Devoid of undue pressures from vested interest groups, instead of the military usurping the functions of these institutions, past experiences have taught us very valuable lessons, but they are all part of our maturing process.

Let us not retrogress. Rather, we must move forward and allow the institutions to work the way we envisioned them to be.

We, your AFP, pledge that it is our duty to be constitutional. By following and adhering to the chain of command, we believe we will be in better position to safeguard democracy, our territory and sovereignty, and most of all our countrymen.

By opting not to intervene, the military believes that democracy in this land will become stronger. Civil society must prove that it can stand for, sustain and make our democratic way of life work for all Filipinos. Civil society must prove itself to be worth defending.

Long live the spirit of EDSA!!!

General Hermogenes Esperon

Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines

Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City

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