35 years after EDSA revolt, Duterte renews call on Filipinos to 'set aside differences'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 25) — President Rodrigo Duterte once again called on Filipinos to "set aside differences" and work together in keeping the spirit of the EDSA People Power Revolution alive, as the country marked the 35th anniversary of the historic event.

In a statement on Thursday, Duterte told Filipinos to commemorate the occasion with the "realization of our shared aspirations for our nation."

"Guided by the spirit of EDSA, let us set aside our differences and work together in building a legacy that we can proudly leave behind for future generations of Filipinos," he added.

Duterte's message resembles his statement last year, wherein he challenged the public to "rise above political differences" to ensure that the legacy of EDSA will remain relevant.

The President has been a vocal ally of the Marcoses, particularly expressing his admiration for the Marcos brand of presidency in his past speeches. In 2016, he even approved the transfer of the late strongman's remains from Ilocos Norte to the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Duterte, who has also faced criticisms over alleged human rights violations, even urged Filipinos to be vigilant in "safeguarding our democratic institutions, preserving our values, and upholding our rights as Filipinos."

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Robredo: Democracy still under threat, 35 years after

In a separate statement, Vice President Leni Robredo reminded the public of "the work that remains to be done" while acknowledging that "the promise of EDSA has not yet been completely fulfilled."

"Our democracy, ever fragile, is still under constant threat," Robredo said. "There are efforts to revise history for the personal agenda of a powerful few. We are still in the process of forging the nation we dreamt of, and fought for, on EDSA."

The Vice President stressed that even in the middle of a pandemic, Filipinos must "walk forward together" to get through the crisis, a key lesson which can be seen in the 1986 military-backed civilian revolution that ended the dictatorship of Marcos.

Former President Fidel V, Ramos, one of the key figures of the 1986 revolt, also encouraged Filipinos to take on the challenge of preserving the gains of EDSA.

"The revolution is not over and the work remains unfinished until every Filipino enjoys the freedoms and rights embodied in our Constitution, our democracy secure, and we regain our seat at the table of the community of nations," he said.

A simple flag-raising and wreath laying ceremony at the EDSA People Power Monument in Quezon City was held on Thursday morning, led by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte.

Rights advocates and other cause-oriented groups also gathered in front of the Commission on Human Rights to commemorate the four-day historic event on Feb. 22-25, 1986.

Malacañang did not state whether Duterte will personally attend any activities marking the occasion. The President has been absent in the past EDSA anniversary events since taking office.