MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte skipped the ceremony on the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA people power revolution at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.
Duterte, who is in Davao City to lead the re-launching of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, instead left a message for the EDSA rites that was delivered by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“No single party, ideology, religion or individual could claim credit for the bloodless EDSA revolution, in the same way that no single party, ideology, religion or individual could claim a monopoly of patriotism,” Duterte’s message read.
“Indeed, the spirit of EDSA does not belong to one sector or one group of people, but to all Filipinos who believe in freedom and a democratic way of life,” he said.
Duterte called on the Filipino people to not just celebrate the 1986 uprising but to also muse on the losses and gains it contributed to the country.
“Thirty-one years have passed since the EDSA People Power Revolution, and perhaps, now is the opportune time to ask ourselves – what have we achieved after EDSA?” the Chief Executive said.
“More than a mere commemoration, now is the perfect time for all of us to reflect and objectively assess what we have lost and what we have gained as a nation since that historic event,” he added.
Former president Fidel Ramos, former senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Gregorio Honasan, who played key roles during the EDSA revolution attended the event.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, former vice president Jejomar Binay and former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita were also present along with members of civil society and the religious sector.
Personalities who were instrumental to the peaceful uprising were awarded during the commemoration including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Sister Sarah Manapol, who helped manage Radyo Bandido at the height of the EDSA revolt.
Medialdea, who headed the EDSA People Power Commission, urged Filipinos to ponder on the lessons of the revolution.
“EDSA lives on and its spirit should continue to inspire heroism in all of us for the greater glory of God and country,” he said.
Every Filipino can be like the country’s national hero Jose Rizal, the President said.
“But I trust that those who read the story of his life would concede that his humanity was the secret to his greatness. You can be a Rizal, I can be a Rizal in our own modest ways and within the limits of our competence and capacities. We can all be Rizals,” Duterte said during the 31st International Assembly and Conference of the Knights of Rizal at the SMX Convention Center here Thursday night.
Duterte read a prepared speech and did not digress to other issues before more than 500 members of the Knights of Rizal.
He did not talk about De Lima’s arrest and the EDSA people power revolution.
The President was conferred the Knight Grand Cross of Rizal award by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno during the event.
Meanwhile, Honasan supported Duterte’s decision to simplify the commemoration of the EDSA people power celebration.
Enrile and Honasan agreed that the celebration of the peaceful uprising should be simple but meaningful.
Enrile noted that the people power revolt should be observed every 24th of February since the people were no longer on EDSA on Feb. 25, 1986.
Ramos did not grant interviews but gave media and other guests a “show” when he sat on the window of his white sport utility vehicle after the program.
Ramos, who was chief of the Philippine Constabulary during the EDSA revolution, waved to the crowd with one hand clinging to the vehicle’s roof.
“Walang mahuhulog dito, ang mahuhulog dito si Digong (No one will fall here. Digong will be the one to fall),” he said in jest, referring to Duterte who skipped the event.
On the other hand, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle issued on Thursday a circular to all clergymen under his diocese to hold simple celebrations of EDSA revolt in their respective parishes.
“As we join the whole Church in the Philippines in celebrating the Year of the Parish, I invite all parishes to a simple commemoration of EDSA People Power," said Tagle. – With Edith Regalado, Evelyn Macairan, Michael Punongbayan