Philippines marks day of 1986 uprising; but rallies’ messages differ

World Today

Philippines Revolt AnniversaryHundreds of supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte at a candlelit vigil in Manila’s Rizal Park to show their support to the President’s so-called war on drugs as the nation marks the 31st anniversary of the near-bloodless revolt that toppled the 20-year-rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Manila, Philippines. Duterte whose decision to allow Marcos to be buried at a heroes’ cemetery drew protests from civil society groups, skipped the celebration Saturday, the first time by a sitting president. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Rallies across the Philippines to commemorate the 1986 mass uprising that toppled former President Ferdinand Marcos.
There were conflicting messages, however.

One side protesting the policies of current President Rodrigo Duterte, and the other in support.

CGTN’s Barnaby Lo filed this report.

Philippines marks day of 1986 uprising; but rallies' messages differ

Rallies across the Philippines to commemorate the 1986 mass uprising that toppled former President Ferdinand Marcos. CGTN’s Barnaby Lo filed this report.

Thirty-one years ago, some two million Filipinos took to the streets to unseat then-President and known dictator Ferdinand Marcos. They occupied this stretch and the highway right behind those protesters and it was on this day, February 25th in 1986 that they succeeded in toppling Marcos. Filipinos were united then and for decades the so-called People Power Revolution was a symbol of peaceful resistance and democracy.

But that appears to no longer be the case now as Filipinos are as divided as ever. A lot of Filipinos still hold the 1986 revolution sacred, especially those who were victims of abuses during Marcos’ Martial Law era, and that’s why the decision of the current president, Rodrigo Duterte, to allow Marcos to be buried at the national heroes’ cemetery was controversial, to say the least.

When the burial did happen last year, thousands of Filipinos took to the streets to voice their anger and disappointment. Today, they’re out again to continue voicing their opposition not only to the burial but also to the return of the Marcoses to power. They’re also protesting the thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s watch.

“You see things happening that are not in accordance with the rule of law, for instance. And we have to act. The people have to go out and act and express their dismay, their frustration. And tell the president, tell this administration that we are not going to allow another dictatorship to happen,” said Elizabeth Angsioco, a protester of President Duterte.

But Duterte does remain popular, at least according to the most recent survey, released in January. In fact, the war on drugs and Marcos’ heroes’ burial were his campaign promises.

So although there are reports government resources were used to put up this rally happening on the other side of Manila, it still probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that all these people have shown their support for President Duterte. Former President Benigno Aquino has denied accusations that his party is planning to oust but one of the messages here is to stop destabilization.

“We don’t want any destabilization. The president has only been there for the past seven months. And we look forward to another five and a half years with him, genuine change, federalism, empowerment of the countryside, and true change and public service,” said Abraham Mitra, a supporter of President Duterte.

The official commemoration ceremony of the 1986 People Power Revolution actually took place on Friday and for the first time, inside the Philippine Armed Forces’ headquarters instead of on the streets where the historic event actually transpired.

Duterte himself was not even present at the commemoration event, so it was definitely low key. That of course did not sit well with those who see the 1986 protests as one of the most important turning points in the history of the Philippines, but President Duterte and Filipinos here say, it’s time to move on.