Thirty-eight years ago today, Feb. 9, a group of computer technicians of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) walked out of the tabulation center of the presidential “snap election” called by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. They were protesting irregularities in the election results being reported to the public, which they observed as efforts to subvert the people’s will.
The 1986 Edsa People Power Revolt occurred 13 days after what came to be known as “the Comelec walkout,” resulting in the toppling of Marcos’ strongman rule.
Fast forward to the present day. A broad coalition composed of organizations such as Tindig Pilipinas, the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF), and Akbayan Party is calling on the current Comelec to “heed the lessons of history” and resist validating signatures collected through what they called a “fraudulent people’s initiative” aimed at amending the 1987 Constitution.
“The events of the past serve as a reminder of the importance of upholding integrity, transparency, and accountability in our democratic processes,” said Tindig Pilipinas co-convenor Teresita Deles. “The courage exhibited by the Comelec during the remaining days of the Marcos regime should inspire us to remain vigilant and steadfast in safeguarding our Constitution.”
Akbayan Party president Rafaela David said the present Comelec should “validate democracy, not treachery” and, as an independent constitutional body, “not play accomplice to attacks against our Constitution.”
“We urge our election officials to heed the lessons of history and stand firm in not validating the signatures gathered under a fake people’s initiative to revise the Constitution to perpetuate a few in power,” David said.
NCAF deputy executive director Francis Aquino Dee invited the public to join the “National Day of Prayer and Action” scheduled on Feb. 23 starting at the Edsa Shrine to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the people power revolt and to demonstrate strong opposition to various Charter change (Cha-cha) efforts.
Tindig Pilipinas, NCAF and Akbayan Party are part of the #BuhayangEdsa Campaign Network, a broad coalition of social movements, political parties, the academe, people’s organizations, NGOs, artists’ groups and sectoral formations organized for those two specific purposes.
Dee said the coalition is working in conjunction with Catholic dioceses to hold Masses across the nation, accompanied by diverse protest actions planned by social movements and people’s organizations.
He added: “The 1986 Comelec walkout was part of the many courageous acts that led to the Edsa People Power Revolution, a national historic event that restored many of our cherished freedoms and democracy which are now enshrined in our present Constitution—the very same Constitution that insidious forces want to revise to promote narrow political and economic ends. Let us show them that the spirit of Edsa lives and that we will cancel Cha-cha.”
Read more: Detention, ‘town arrest’ under martial law