DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The 32nd Edsa People Power anniversary was reduced to a simple commemoration, with only hundreds not thousands in attendance, as earlier projected by the organizers.
Since the celebration has been politicized, most of the figures influential in the convergence of people in 1986, have their own reasons to stay away from the celebration
Former President Fidel V. Ramos was the only key figure of 1986 EDSA, attended the celebration, while most of the attendees were from militant groups and their allied student organizations.
In his speech Ramos emphasized, the essence of EDSA is Unity, Solidarity, team work and nation-building.
Ramos lamented the absence of other officials to the even “They should all be here on this day than elsewhere because this is the most important day.”
The People Power Commission head, Rene Escalante, said Mr. Duterte commemorated the Edsa Revolution in Davao City.
Vice President Leni Robredo marked the anniversary of the civilian-backed military revolt in her hometown, Naga City, where she attended a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Rolando Tirona.
Former President Benigno Aquino was also absent in the celebration.
Aquino is the only son of democracy icons Ninoy and Cory Aquino. It was the 1983 assassination of Ninoy, an opposition senator, that precipitated the popular uprising that ousted the dictator Marcos.
The death of his mother inspired him to run and win the 2010 Presidential race.
The gathering was attended by people from the cross section of the society, it was highlighted by the protest to change the Constitution by the Duterte administration.
The militant groups joined the EDSA crowd.
In Davao City, Konsensya Dabaw, a Davao-based human rights group reminded Duterte that the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship was key to his rise to power.
Ma. Victoria Maglana, of Konsyensya Dabaw, a group of human rights advocates and victims of abuses during martial law, in a statement said that Mr. Duterte would not have become mayor, congressman and then President if the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos had not been toppled.
“Davaoeños can attest to the importance and benefits of standing up to tyrants,” said Maglana.
The statement added “The expulsion of the Marcoses made adjustments to local political arrangements possible that enabled the rise of alternative leaders like then appointee Vice Mayor Rody Duterte.”
The Rizal Park here, which used to be the venue for protest during the 1986 EDSA revolt was empty.
In Manila, the protests at the historic EDSA People Power site was led by Tindig Pilipinas, a union of coalitions and citizens who are alarmed and outraged by alleged extrajudicial killings launched last September 2017.
Tindig Pilipinas projected thousands of participants but they ended up having hundreds.
The celebration was highlighted by the giving of awards to Army Capt. Michael Asistores and PO3 Christopher Lalan, the sole Special Action Force survivor in the Mamasapano debacle, the two received the award on behalf of the AFP and the PNP.
The Good Citizenship Award was posthumously given to Melvin Gaa, the NCCC Mall employee who died while saving others in the fire that gutted the establishment in Davao City last December.
Other Edsa veterans who joined Sunday’s celebration organized by the People Power Commission under the Office of the President were former Sen. Heherson Alvarez, his wife, Cecil, and former journalist Maan Hontiveros.
Escalante said other key figures in the revolution like Enrile, Sen. Gringo Honasan and other RAM (Reform the Armed Forces Movement) members joined Edsa activities that were held ahead of Sunday’s celebrations.
Unlike the previous commemoration, there was no yellow confetti, but instead Red, blue and white confetti rained on the People Power Monument.
Only a few attendees wore yellow, among them the children of the late Sen. Agapito “Butz” Aquino, an Edsa stalwart. Some also flashed the trademark antidictatorship Laban sign in a sea of clenched fists while the protest song “Bayan Ko” was sung.
Yesterday’s celebration was a reflection that political color has affected the real essence of EDSA People Power.-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph
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