Economy to take spotlight in EDSA anniversary

Various groups of different persuasions gather in a press conference at Pyts Grill in Lapaz, Iloilo City on Wednesday to reveal their activities for the 37th anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising on Feb 24, 2023. (Screengrab from Panay Today)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Various groups in Iloilo will stage a rally on Friday, Feb 24, 2023, to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising, the first under another Marcos presidency.

The groups held a press conference on Wednesday to share a preview of their activities and advocacies.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Panay Secretary-General Elmer Forro said their commemoration would stay true to the essence of the 1986 popular uprising, which toppled the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the father and namesake of incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“The essence of [this press con] was also that of the 1986 [EDSA People Power] when the people ousted a dictator. The former dictator was a tyrant because they wanted to silence the people of the effects of the [economic] crises in 1986, and the crisis continues today. The message of the 1986 revolution today is to continue the fight,” Forro said.

He emphasized that the unreturned alleged ill-gotten wealth, including the estate taxes owed by the Marcos family, can mitigate the current inflation, which is at 8.7% in January 2023 according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The same PSA data set indicated that Western Visayas remained to have the highest inflation rate in the country last month at 10.3%.

“The issues then are very similar to the issues now. Our call for this 37th commemoration is to get rid of the crisis that is plaguing the people, and return the [wealth] stolen by the late dictator Marcos [Sr.] and his family, which the people can use to face the ongoing economic crisis,” he said.

Apart from BAYAN, United Labor-Panay as well as vendors from the Iloilo Terminal Market and the Iloilo Central Market, who are affected by rehabilitation efforts by the Iloilo City government under an agreement with a mall giant, will also join the rally.

United Labor representative Mario Andon of Partido ng Manggagawa said the groups and unions under their umbrella continue to call for better living wages even after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

“At the EDSA Revolution, we [United Labor groups] joined forces to topple the first Marcos, and now, the son (sic) has returned [to power]. Laborers will not stop to find peace for true democracy. [We] won in bringing down the [Marcos Sr.] dictatorship but the true peace [for us] is the proper salaries and living wages, which we haven’t got today,” said Andon.

“Laborers’ wages went up after the EDSA Revolution, but it was not given by [President Corazon Aquino], but through general strikes launched in 1987, 1988, [and] 1989. We, laborers, believe that we need to join forces to be able to get what we have been fighting for since the time of earlier labor leaders,” he added.

The main commemorative activities will be held on the 24th instead of the 25th. Forro noted that this was due to the date being the height of the 1986 People Power, which happened on February 22 to 25.

The rally will be held in front of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol grounds, with BAYAN being joined by members of progressive groups from different sectors, such as the Panay chapters of the Kabataan and Gabriela Party-Lists.