EDSA spirit lives on: Braving authoritarian pandemic restrictions, the people faced the crisis together

February 25, 2021

by IBON Foundation

In the 35 years since the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising, the Filipino people have never stopped seeking the truth and fighting for justice. Our relentless assertion of rights is the country’s brightest hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis, calamities, and worsening authoritarianism.

The government’s insensitivity and inaction resulted in the health crisis and in millions of families losing their jobs and livelihoods. But the lockdowns and systematic stifling of organized action did not stop people’s organizations, NGOs and concerned citizens from humanitarian efforts, waging campaigns and mass actions, and holding the Duterte administration accountable for its miserable COVID-19 response.

Filipinos remained resolute, tenacious, and creative. Civic action flourished online with webinars, discussions, meetings, and social media actions. And although hesitantly at first, also promptly multiplied offline with relief missions, community kitchens, mobile farms, cultural events, rallies, and protest actions. Services were provided but the people also demanded the strengthening of the public health system, meaningful aid to households and the working people, and real support for small businesses and agriculture.

The Duterte administration’s militarism was in full view. Dissenters were vilified and attacked. Anxieties and panic were stoked to keep people afraid and passive. Yet despite these, thousands upon thousands of Filipinos from all walks of life still got together across the nation to face the pandemic and confront the government.

This is the propulsive spirit of EDSA and People Power – bravely fighting despotism and relentlessly struggling for genuine democracy and economic progress.