(FEBRUARY 25, 2020) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday strongly urged Filipinos to rise above the petty political differences—which have been dividing the country—as well as preserve the democratic space it had won three decades ago during the “People Power” uprising at a highway in Manila.
In a statement for the 34th anniversary of the near bloodless EDSA revolt against dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the maverick leader said he hopes the next generation of Filipinos would have the same courage as their fathers to defend democratic principles the country still enjoys today.
“Inspired by the freedoms that we secured in the 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 a statement.
The immensely popular leader has skipped all previous EDSA revolt anniversary celebrations since he rose to power in 2016.
Duterte also described the historic near bloodless revolution as “one of the most remarkable events” in the history of the Philippines.
His mother, Soledad Duterte, was a known anti-Marcos leader of the Yellow Friday Movement, which fought abuses and human rights violations during the martial law period.
Vice President Leni Robredo, for her part, said the EDSA revolt is a proof that strongman rule will never succeed in the country.
The leader of the political opposition, said she was dismayed and angered at the situation at the time, but still hoped for change as people gathered during that three-day peaceful protest.
“Magsilbi nawang babala ang EDSA sa sinuman ang muling magtatangkang ikuyom tayo sa loob ng kamaong bakal: Hindi sila magtatagumpay,” Robredo said in a separate statement.
Robredo said EDSA was never about wanting a perfect leader, but rather pushing for someone that will look after the people and not kill and steal from them.
She had previously called the current administration’s war on drugs a “failure” and consistently urged for so-called extrajudicial killings to stop.
“Ang hinangad natin, mabuhay nang may dignidad. Isang gobyernong hindi magsisinungaling, hindi magnanakaw, at hindi tayo aapihin. Hindi tayo papatayin. Sa madaling salita: Isang gobyernong gagawin ang sinumpaan niyang tungkulin,” Robredo said.
The vice president also warned against those trying to manipulate the memory of EDSA for personal gains, urging the people to never let the lies smear the legacy of the People Power.
The dictator’s son and namesake, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, who has a pending case at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal for the vice presidency against Robredo, previously said he wants his family’s image in Philippine textbooks to be revised.
On this day 34 years ago, about a million Filipinos flocked country’s busiest thoroughfare with hopes of ending the decades-long rule of Marcos. (Randell Ritumalta/MM)
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