Duterte: Drop ‘petty political differences’

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    PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday urged Filipinos to “rise above our petty political differences” and work together for the betterment of the country to “ensure that the legacy of EDSA will remain relevant in the years ahead.”

    In his message for the 34th anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising, the President stressed the event was an important “catalyst for the restoration of our democratic institutions” more than three decades ago.

    Like in the past four years of his presidency, Duterte skipped the activities at the EDSA People Power Monument where a wreath-laying and flag ceremony was held to commemorate the event led by National Historical Commission Commissioner and EDSA People Power Commission vice chairman Joey Concepcion and former senator Heherson Alvarez.

    Duterte said the People Power Revolution of 1986 was one of the most remarkable events in the country’s history when Filipinos came together for a bloodless uprising to restore democracy in the Philippines.

    “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. Let us all have a meaningful commemoration,” he said.

    The President expressed hope that the memory and values left by the bloodless revolution would inspire the future generations of Filipinos to have the courage, strength and determination to protect, defend, and preserve the liberties that the people won during the historic period.

    Concepcion said this year’s commemoration has been “toned down” compared to previous events as the government prepares for a bigger celebration next year for the 35th anniversary of the people power revolution.

    Concepcion said the simple program prepared by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) for the “solemn and simple affair” was in deference to current events hounding the country, among them the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the recent unrest of the Taal Volcano.

    Among those present in the Quezon City event were officials and employees of the NHCP, the Department of Education, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Quezon City government.

    Concepcion acknowledged that previous celebrations have seen less and less number of young people in attendance, a development which he said has posed a big challenge for the NHCP.

    “In a way a lot of Filipinos still remember it, but many of our younger generation seem not to be part of this whole event and that’s the challenge because many of them have not experienced what our generation went through,” Concepcion said.

    PEACEFUL AND ORDERLY

    National Capital Region Police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas said the commemoration of the EDSA revolution went on “peacefully and orderly.”

    Interviewed at the People Power Monument in EDSA after the program, Sinas said the toned down celebration was better and did not cause any traffic congestion along the major and minor streets.

    “I’d like to inform everybody that we are very happy that the program has already finished peacefully and orderly. As of now, we didn’t see any rally or demonstration,” Sinas said.

    Sinas placed the estimate of the people who attended the celebration at 1,000, mostly from government offices. The program lasted for about 12 minutes, dedicated mainly to the flag-raising and wreath-laying.

    The number excludes about 2,500 policemen who were deployed at the vicinity to secure the event.

    Sinas said policemen were asked to attend the celebration to reenact the Salubong, the meeting of military and policemen with civilians during the revolt.

    PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said: “As of 2 p.m, the 34th EDSA People Power Anniversary rites and commemoration has turned out to be peaceful and orderly with no major untoward incident monitored or reported.”

    Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said: “The AFP joins the nation in commemoration of the 1986 EDSA People Power. More than being a public holiday, your soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines relive the spirit of that day when we manifest to the world the unity, resolve, courage, and determination of Filipinos.”

    He said it is the AFP’s “aspiration that all of us join hands once more in the quest for peace and the yearning for progress.”

    Arevalo also appealed to the public to reject members of the communist and terrorist organizations “who menace society.”

    “Let us once again unite with the AFP in neutralizing the CTG (communist terrorist group) – the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing and defeating the LTG (local terrorist group) anathema who wreck the lives of our children, destroy our families, and ruin our posterity,” Arevalo said.

    Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said: “This historic event we are remembering today symbolizes the Filipino people’s resolve to stand up and come together in the name of freedom and democracy.”

    “Three decades hence, may the victories of the People Power Revolution continue to inspire us to unite for peace and inclusive progress now and in the future,” said Lorenzana.

    Lorenzana asked members of the defense and military establishments “to pursue excellence and remain committed to our sworn duty to protect our country and people.”

    “Let us cherish and be true to the trust bestowed upon us by our countrymen. May we continue to be instruments in upholding the sacred ideals that our founding fathers and heroes hold dear,” he added.

    Interior Secretary Eduardo Año took a swipe at the communists, who played a part in the revolt.

    “It was the Filipino people, not the communists, who overthrew the Marcos regime. History tells us that the country did not need armed struggle. To effect change means having a new Constitution accepted and followed by the people,” said Año.

    “The spirit of EDSA lives on. The revolution continues. It may not be in the form of millions of people demonstrating on EDSA but through the proposed amendments to the fundamental law of the land to adapt with the current environment and serve as an antidote to contemporary social ills and viruses,” he added. – With Victor Reyes