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Ramos lone key Edsa figure in celebration

07:26 AM February 26, 2018

THAT’S THE SPIRIT As the crowd whoops it up in arguably the least attended celebration of the 1986 bloodless revolt on Sunday at the People Power Monument, former President Fidel V. Ramos bends his knees before the cameras but skips the reenactment of his signature Edsa victory leap. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Where have the top government officials gone?

Former President Fidel Ramos was the only key Edsa figure who was at the People Power Monument in Quezon City on Sunday, as the event’s guest of honor.

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President Rodrigo Duterte and other officials, except for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, skipped the 32nd anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution at the monument.

“They should all be here on this day than elsewhere because this is the most important day,” Ramos told reporters after the event.

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Ramos is a supporter of Mr. Duterte, who is vocal about his admiration for the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and has allied himself with the strongman’s children.

Asked if he thought the President was increasingly becoming an authoritarian leader, Ramos said: “Authoritarian? Put it on record, there is no authoritarian. He’s on his honeymoon.”

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.

Aquino absent

Escalante was uncertain if former President Benigno Aquino III had been invited. “I didn’t notice if he was on the guest list … I have to check if President Aquino was invited.”

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.

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The four-day revolution, which saw millions of Filipinos massing on Edsa to support Ramos and then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile who had broken away from the Marcos regime, was supported by Cory and Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin.

The traditional “salubungan” still took place, but Ramos, who will turn 90 years old next month, was unable to replicate his traditional victory leap.

Ramos was given the People’s Power Heroes Award, while the Edsa People Power Commission Award was given to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police for their successful liberation of Marawi City from Islamic State-inspired terrorists.

Army Capt. Michael Asistores and PO3 Christopher Lalan, the sole Special Action Force survivor in the Mamasapano debacle, 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.

No yellow confetti

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.

Asked about the absence of yellow, the symbol of the Edsa Revolution and democracy in the country, Escalante said: “If you recall, in Edsa, it was about unity. We avoided color coding and used the colors of the flag.”

In his speech, Ramos said the Edsa Revolution was a continuing lesson in “unity, solidarity in values and teamwork in nation-building.”

‘Start of transformation’

“The 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution was only the start of our transformation. That is not the end. As Winnie Monsod said, ‘We are just beginning.’ And the outcome, which is a better future for all Filipinos, must be done by its succeeding administrations,” he said.

Just a few meters from the site of the Edsa celebration, a 79-year-old activist nun, Teresita Alo, was seething with anger. Alo is a member of Gomburza, a cause-orientated organization of priests, nuns, brothers and laity led by Fr. Robert Reyes.

Alo, Reyes and six farmers and fishermen had completed their nine-day fast against Charter change.

“I felt very bad because they cast us aside. We have more right to celebrate … We won this Edsa through prayer and sacrifice, especially the poor … I am angry. How dare they celebrate when they do not deserve it,” Alo told the Inquirer.

Least attended

The 32nd anniversary of Edsa People Power Revolution was arguably the least attended.

About a thousand people were at the People Power Monument, mostly government employees.

Escalante attributed the low turnout to other activities commemorating the event on other days and in other places. He said the commission was given a P2.5-million budget for the event. —NIKKO DIZON

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Edsa People Power revolt, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Fidel V. Ramos, Leni Robredo, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Noynoy Aquino, People Power Commission, Rene Escalante, Rodrigo Duterte
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