Duterte to skip EDSA People Power anniversary rites again

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte is again skipping the government-led commemoration of the historic People Power Revolution on Sunday.

This was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a text message to CNN Philippines on Friday.

The Palace has yet to announce the President's schedule during the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA revolution of 1986.

National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Rene Escalante said Duterte will be in Mindanao while the government holds a "huge celebration" at the People Power monument on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue in Quezon City.

"Naimbita po natin ang Pangulo at sumulat po sa atin na meron daw siyang importanteng lakad sa Mindanao kaya di po siya makakadalo," Escalante told reporters on Friday.

[Translation: "We invited the President and eh wrote to us that he has an important event in Mindanao so he won't be able to join us."]

Duterte also missed last year's celebration. He was in Davao to lead the turnover of a drug rehabilitation center and launch of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

READ: Duterte: No single party can take credit for EDSA revolution

The Duterte administration was criticized last year for holding a low-key commemoration of the EDSA revolution, a historic event that gathered millions of Filipinos in a nonviolent mass action on the main highway of EDSA from February 22 to 25, 1986. This led to the overthrow of longtime strongman and alleged human rights violator Ferdinand Marcos.

The commemoration last year came after Duterte allowed the controversial burial of Marcos in Libingan ng mga Bayani on November 2016.

READ: FVR opposes Malacañang's 'moving on' theme for 31st People Power revolution anniversary  

Former President Fidel Ramos, one of the key leaders of the revolution, will be this year's guest of honor and speaker. There will be a mass, wreath laying and flag raising ceremony on Sunday, the NHCP said.

The NHCP added the organizers have invited Vice President Leni Robredo, but she has yet to confirm her attendance. Last year, Robredo said she wanted to participate but was not invited.

Portions of EDSA's northbound lane from Ortigas to Santolan, and White Plains avenues will be closed to traffic from early morning until noontime.

Militants are set to stage protests starting 5 p.m.

Around 1,850 policemen will be deployed to maintain peace and order. The national police said it will carry out maximum tolerance during the rallies.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.