Malacañang on Tuesday said the government is not toning down the commemoration of the EDSA “people power” revolt because of President Rodrigo Duterte’s close relations with the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
In a news conference, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra defended the Duterte administration’s move to transfer the venue of the anniversary rites to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City from the People Power Monument, also in the city.
“So I guess it does not indicate that the [Duterte] administration or the [committee designated to organize the commemorative rites]is giving any less significance to the celebration of the 31st [EDSA] anniversary… It is more of a time to reflect, that is why we are doing this as simple as possible,” Guevarra told reporters.
“Just like any young lady who’s celebrating her 18th birthday, we normally celebrate it with pomp. But when she celebrates her 19th birthday, that doesn’t mean that if there’s no celebration similar to her debut that her birthday is given any less significance,” he said.
Guevarra added that the “simpler” anniversary rites reflect the theme of this year’s commemoration, “A Day of Reflection.”
“It’s a time to settle down, to quiet a bit and think of what has happened over the past 30 years. Do we still have that spirit of EDSA within our hearts? Have we done things that are supposed to guide us after that momentous event in our history?” he said.
“So that’s why we want to quiet down a bit and do some reflection on this matter. But again, just to assure you, this simplicity does not mean in any way that we are giving any less significance to the 31st anniversary of the EDSA people power [revolt],” Guevarra added.
Duterte has allowed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) last year.
But he is yet to confirm if he will attend the EDSA anniversary celebration to be held at Camp Aguinaldo on February 25.
Former president Fidel V. Ramos, a key personality in the EDSA uprising, will join the celebration.
Former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, son of EDSA figures then-president Corazon Aquino and former senator Benigno Aquino Jr., is yet to reply to an invitation to attend this year’s anniversary
One-million pesos has been allotted for this year’s “very simple affair.”
Created through Executive Order 82 in 1999, the EDSA People Power Committee is the government agency tasked to organize and implement the annual commemoration of the 1986 Edsa revolt.
Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo also on Tuesday said this year’s EDSA rites deserve more than a quiet celebration as the Palace wishes.
Speaking before an Ateneo Forum on Social Justice and the 1987 Constitution, Robredo noted that the commemoration of taking a stand in a bloodless revolution should not be taken for granted because it gave birth to the 1987 Constitution and provided for social justice and human rights policies.
“This anniversary is an event that to me deserves a more dignified treatment than a ‘quiet celebration’ in the guise of ‘moving on.’ I believe that the truth of our past will ensure clarity of direction in our future. Moving on and forgetting may leave us in danger of making the same mistakes all over again,” she pointed out.
The Vice President argued that the true Filipino spirit does not revere crooks and thirst for blood but rather is courageous and made of passion, commitment, integrity and empathy.
LLANESCA T. PANTI