President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos on Tuesday to set aside petty political differences as the country commemorated the 34th year of the EDSA People Power Revolution, which he called a “catalyst” for the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.
Despite skipping the official commemorative rites at the People Power Monument in Quezon City, the President hailed the non-violent uprising in 1986, saying it remains “one of the most remarkable events in our nation’s history.”
“Inspired by the freedoms that we secured in February 1986, let us all rise above our petty political differences so that we may, together, ensure that the legacy of EDSA will remain relevant in the years ahead,” the President said in his message.
The bloodless revolution toppled the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and installed his political nemesis’ widow, Corazon Aquino, as president. Her son, Benigno Aquino III, was Duterte’s predecessor in Malacañang.
In his message, the President also expressed his “renewed hope” that the succeeding generations of Filipinos will be inspired to protect and preserve the liberties won during the EDSA revolution.
Duterte has never attended EDSA anniversary ceremonies since he became president in 2016.
He led the Presidential Security Group change of command ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
Duterte earlier declared Feb. 25 a special non-working holiday.
Key personalities from the February 1986 EDSA Revolution gathered on Tuesday at the Ninoy Aquino statue in Makati City to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the peaceful uprising.
Among them—former Vice President Jejomar Binay, former senators Rene Saguisag and Sergio Osmeña III, and former Tourism secretary Antonio Gonzales—offered flowers before the Ninoy Aquino statue and sang “Bayan Ko” together with some supporters of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
Binay, a human rights lawyer during the martial law period, said commemorating People Power is important especially during this time, when people seem to forget the events that led to the bloodless revolution.
“We are here to remind the younger generations of the importance of EDSA in our country’s history. Some people seem to forget its essence and the events that led to the bloodless revolution,” Binay said.
The former vice president was the first local government official appointed by President Corazon Aquino after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
Saguisag reminisced about the events that led to the EDSA revolt in 1986, saying there are only a few veterans from that time.
The EDSA veterans said they will go around the country and talk to the younger generations to avoid historical revisionism.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines accused on Tuesday the government of launching sustained and intensifying attacks against the people’s rights and liberties through the shrinking of various spaces and institutions crucial in the democratization of Philippine society. With Joel E. Zurbano and Willie Casas