Protesters hold 31st EDSA anniversary celebration

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Thousands of Filipinos headed to People Power Monument on Saturday to honor the EDSA Revolution's 31st anniversary.

While the government opted for a more muted commemoration of the event, various groups held their own celebration of the peaceful revolution at the site where it all began.

Protesters headed to the People Power Monument along EDSA Saturday afternoon, where some 20 groups are converging for a People Power celebration and protest.

Organizers estimate at least 5,000 people will be at the event to protest former President Ferdinand Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, among other causes.

Related: Marcos buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani

As of 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the Quezon City police said around 2,000 people were at the event.

Protesters include groups from various sectors, including the youth, urban poor and other civil society organizations.

The celebration was organized by anti-Marcos groups August Twenty One Movement and Coalition Against Marcos Burial.

It comes amid the government's decision to hold a "simple and sober" celebration for EDSA 31.

PNoy present at EDSA anniversary

Former President Benigno Aquino III was also present at the commemoration, along with other Liberal Party members.

The former President, who is the son of EDSA hero Ninoy Aquino and the late President Corazon Aquino, was mum when asked about the government's decision to downplay this year's EDSA celebration.


He did, however, underscore the need to keep the spirit of the EDSA revolution alive among the youth.

"Meron na tayong generation na bago at di naranasan yung situation kaya nangailangan tayong magkaroon ng EDSA," he said.

[Translation: We have a new generation that hasn't witnessed and doesn't know why we needed to have the EDSA revolution.]

He said the country's fight for freedom was far from finished.

"For a long time, celebration ang ginagawa natin. Ngayon medyo mas may dagdag na na kailangan gawin, di lang dun sa paggunita at pagalala, pero pati na rin yun siguro paalala satin na talagang di tapos ang laban kung di tayo handa ipagtanggal ang ating mga karapatan," he said.

[Translation: For a long time what we did was celebrate. Now, we have to do more. It's not just about remembering but about reminding ourselves that the fight is not over if we aren't ready to fight for our rights.]

Aquino quoted Spanish writer George Santanya's famous words as a reminder to keep the memory of martial law alive.

"Ang nakalimot ng lumipas ay takdang uulitan ang pagkakamali," he said.

[Translation: Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.]

Aquino on De Lima

Aquino also defended his LP party mate, embattled Senator Leila De Lima.

He said he was invited to attend the government's EDSA commemoration held at Camp Aguinaldo on Friday but opted not to go in light of De Lima's arrest.

De Lima was arrested Friday following drug charges filed by the Department of Justice at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.

Read: Sen. Leila De Lima arrested over drug charges

Aquino said De Lima's arrest was questionable, especially as the cases were filed at the Muntinlupa RTC and not before the Sandiganbayan, where cases against government officials are filed.

"As a non-lawyer, marami kang itatanong. Nung nasa DOJ pa lang humihirit si Secretary De Lima ng question of jurisdiction," he said.

[Translation: As a non-lawyer, I have a lot of questions.When it was at he DOJ, De Lima already brought up the matter of jurisdiction.]

He added, De Lima was prejudged as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, who heads the DOJ had already proclaimed De Lima guilty prior to the results of the final investigation.

Aquino also denied the alleged existence of a destabilization plot against Duterte by the Liberal Party.

"Personally, inalok ko siya nung umalis ako ng Malacañang. Sabi ko yung may maitutulong ako sa inyo... handa kami tumulong," he said, referring to President Duterte.

[Translation: I personally offered to help the President when I left office. I said if I could help him with anything, I'd be glad to help.]

He added, it wouldn't make sense for him to offer help if they were planning to destabilize the Duterte administration.

"Nagalok kami ng tulong tapos may de-destab. Kalokohan naman yata yon," he said.

[Translation: We offered help, and now we're going to destabilize the government? That doesn't sound right.]

Aquino was joined by Liberal Party members and supporters at the EDSA commemoration.

Members of the Liberal Party who were present at the event clarified the event is not an anti-Duterte protest, but a celebration of the People Power Revolution.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Camille Abadicio contributed to this report