Belmonte: EDSA people revolt, a triumph of character and compassion

THE 1986 EDSA revolution became a global icon of revolutions because Filipinos used peace against guns and tanks to end tyrany, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. said today.

“We made history during the People Power Revolution by embracing peace as our weapon against the guns and tanks that were brought to bear upon us. We reciprocated hatred and violence with peace and compassion,” he stressed during a book-launching and art exhibit reminiscing the Martial Law years held at the House of Representatives.

This era, Belmonte said, ended “not rifles held high but with rosaries and flowers offering reconciliation, all representing what is best and brightest within us.”

Martial Law was imposed on September 21, 1972 and lifted on January 17, 1981 but continued to be felt long after, he said.
“Should we forget those dark years? No. We should remember them like they happened yesterday.  We should always remain vigilant to threats on our lives and on our liberty,” the Speaker said.

The exhibit – Recollection 1081 Clear and Present Danger – is not a mere memorial of the Martial Law era but a fitting tribute to the “character, perseverance and courage of those whose lives defined and redeemed that era,” Belmonte pointed out.

Most of the works on exhibit at the North Wing Lobby of the Batasan Pambansa complex belong to KASIBULAN or Kababaihan ng Sining Biswal ng Bagong Sibol ng Kamalayan, organized by Ms. Norma Liongoren of the Liongoren Gallery and CANVAS. It was organized in coordination with the Office of the Speaker and the Committee on Human Rights.

The works on display, he added, are colourful and meaningful experiences, however painful, during those dark years which all can appreciate today.

“You express the innate creativity of Filipino women and reflect their very best – truth, courage, and passionate love of country and people,” he stressed, adding that the exhibit is a “veritable feast of art.”

However, the House leader pointed out that the form is just secondary to their messages and the messengers that bear them. “The messages are freedom, justice, democracy, and patriotism,” he said.

While asking his audience to keep in their hearts and minds a great lesson taught by the Martial Law era, Belmonte stressed that victory against the social and economic challenges we still face today can still be attained through peaceful means.

“It will be through our democratic system that reforms will benefit the smallest and the poorest,” he emphasized.

Then, the House leader reported that the bicameral report on the proposed law “providing for reparation and recognition of the survivors and relatives of violation of human rights and other related violations during Marcos regime” is already up for ratification by both chambers of Congress.

“To ensure that we and future generations do not forget the sacrifices and lessons from Martial Law, the soon to be enacted law mandates the establishment of memorial, museum or library in honor of the human rights victims, and the teaching of Martial Law atrocities and the sacrifices of human rights victims in the basic, secondary and tertiary education curricula.

This is aside from the provision of monetary and non-monetary forms of reparations to and on behalf of human rights victims, including those who died and disappeared.

Other vital measures the Speaker said are anticipating enactment are the expansion of the prohibited acts of discrimination against women on account of sex and the measure on involuntary disappearances.

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