President Rodrigo Duterte joined the nation in commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA revolt that toppled president Ferdinand Marcos and urged Filipinos to “further enrich our democracy.”
In his message, the President said Filipinos, more than three decades ago, “have shown the world how a people’s courage and resolve can alter the course of our nation’s history.”
“Since then, the People Power Revolution has become the enduring symbol of our determination to fight for what is right and—during our country’s most crucial and trying times—to defend and uphold our cherished democratic values,” Duterte said.
“May this occasion foster unity and solidarity as we pursue our hopes and aspirations for our nation. Let us further enrich our democracy by empowering our citizenry, defending their rights and strengthening the institutions that safeguard their freedom,” he added.
National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Rene Escalante earlier said Duterte will be in Mindanao while the government holds a “huge celebration” at the People Power monument on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Quezon City.
“We invited the President and he wrote to us that he has an important event in Mindanao so he won’t be able to join us,” Escalante said.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Saturday confirmed that Duterte would again skip this year’s commemoration of the People Power revolt in Manila.
In 2017, Duterte skipped the EDSA anniversary rites at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City as he opted to attend the relaunch of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Davao City.
The commemoration last year came after Duterte allowed the controversial burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos in Libingan ng mga Bayani on November 2016.
Duterte drew flak for his controversial decision but the chief executive maintained that Marcos was a former president and a soldier, thus he can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Former president Fidel Ramos, one of the key leaders of the revolution, will be this year’s guest of honor and speaker.
The organizers also invited Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, but she has yet to confirm her attendance. Last year, Robredo said she wanted to participate but was not invited.
The NHCP said there will be a mass, wreath laying and flag raising ceremony during the Sunday’s EDSA revolt commemoration.
Portions of EDSA’s northbound lane from Ortigas to Santolan, and White Plains avenues will be closed to traffic from early morning until noontime.
Militants are set to stage protests starting 5 p.m.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday said it is ready for today’s big event.
“We are 100 percent ready for the EDSA celebration. Police abound in the vicinity of the engagement areas,” PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said in a text message.
“Everything has been laid down since Friday unless a situation arises,” he added.
The PNP deployed 1,850 policemen to maintain peace and order during the activities to celebrate the peaceful revolution.
PNP chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa said policemen will be deployed along EDSA for traffic management, emergencies, security, and other public safety concerns.
The Eastern Police District (EPD) expressed readiness to provide full security assistance for the celebration.
EPD Director Chief Supt. Reynaldo Biay, Task Force Commander; Senior Supt. Florendo Quibuyen, Deputy District Director for Operations, and other members of the task group, inspected the vicinity of EDSA Shrine to ensure that everything is ready.
Biay advised his men to tighten security measures to ensure that there will be no untoward incidents.
Three hundred policemen will take part in the “Salubungan” or the reenactment of the united stand of Filipinos against Marcos.
There will be a Holy Mass at Our Lady of EDSA Shrine in Ortigas. This will be followed by a medical, dental, and optical missions in White Plains Drive.
A job fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Quezon City Hall grounds while the free medical, dental, and optical services will be held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Diskwento Caravan will offer food items, indigenous products, and leather goods at discounted prices. It will be held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. along White Plains Drive.
Portion of EDSA closed
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said a portion of EDSA and White Plains Drive will be closed from 12 midnight to 6 a.m. Sunday.
Motorists were advised to use alternate routes: Along EDSA-southbound: turn right to Aurora Boulevard then left to Gilmore or Ortigas; right to Edsa to destination then right turn to Katipunan or Libis-C5 Road to destination.
Along EDSA-northbound: make a right turn to Kalayaan/Shaw Boulevard/Ortigas, left turn to C5 Road to destination or left turn to Ortigas towards Greenhills, right turn to Santolan to destination then right turn to Ortigas or left Ortigas flyover towards Greenhills, right turn to destination.
At least 150 traffic enforcers will be deployed to guide motorists.
With ROY NARRA AND NEIL ALCOBER