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MANILA, Philippines - Key figures in the People Power revolution of 1986, many of them now representing different political parties and interests, linked arms in a show of unity at the commemoration yesterday of the peaceful revolt’s 26th anniversary.

President Aquino led the celebration, along with EDSA 1 principal players former President Fidel Ramos and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. Enrile was the defense minister during the time of the Marcos dictatorship, while Ramos was the military chief.

Enrile and Ramos sought refuge in Camps Aguinaldo and Crame on EDSA amid rumors of their impending arrest by Marcos. Hundreds of thousands of civilians massed on EDSA between the two camps to protect them.

Former President Joseph Estrada, who was ousted in the second People Power revolution in 2001, also attended the event.

“I attended it because I was invited. I just had a chika-chika (chat) with them,” Estrada told The STAR in a telephone interview.

Former senator Agapito “Butz” Aquino, who along with Vice President Jejomar Binay were members of the August Twenty One Movement, and former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, who was head of the Special Information group during EDSA 1, were also present.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. likewise joined the event along with local government officials, including those from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and other members of the Cabinet were also in attendance.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, who was then an aide of Enrile, and Sen. Vicente Sotto III also attended the celebration at the People Power Monument.

On the other hand, former senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Rene Saguisag and Heherson Alvarez were present along with Archbishops Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle and Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes at the wreath laying ceremonies for Aquino’s parents in Manila.

Governors pledge to complete EDSA’s unfinished tasks

Also part of yesterday’s anniversary rites, the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) pledged to work for genuine unity and peace, good governance and principled leadership and economic progress to complete the unfinished tasks of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

The President had said the People Power of 1986 was an “unfinished revolution.”

At least 21 governors, led by ULAP national president and Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali Jr., signed the commitment wall and made their respective pledges under the EDSA rites’ overarching theme, “Anong Taya Mo Para Sa Pilipinas Natin?”

“We must remain united for our countrymen and progress,” Umali, concurrent president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), said in Filipino.

Singson, LPP national chairman, pledged to work for genuine peace, while Gov. Luis Raymund “L-ray” Villafuerte (Camarines Sur), LPP executive vice president, said he would work to bring about local leadership that is “straight and principled.”

Nineteen other governors also pledged to promote volunteerism, public health, economic progress, environmental protection and an independent and progressive nation.

Palawan Gov. Abraham Kahlil Mitra, LPP spokesman for Luzon, made a pitch for environmental protection, good governance and transparency.

Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas said, “I will do the right thing at the right time” while Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali pledged the best efforts from “the food basket of the country.”

The other governors who joined the EDSA rites were Amado Espino Jr. (Pangasinan), Carlos Jericho Petilla (Leyte), Raul Lee (Sorsogon), Wilhelmino Sy-Avarado (Bulacan), Esmael Mangudadatu (Maguindanao), Edgardo Tallado (Camarines Norte), Joseph Cua (Catanduanes), Victor Yap (Tarlac), Junie Cua (Quirino), Joey Salceda (Albay), Rodolfo del Rosario (Davao del Norte), Eduardo Firmalo (Romblon), Eddie Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Rizalina Seachon-Llanete (Masbate), and Vicente Gato (Batanes).

Some mayors also attended the event.

 ‘Salubungan’ held in the morning

The northbound lane of EDSA was closed to traffic for the celebration. There was a reenactment of the events with the presence of military and police, religious groups, civilians and representatives from various sectors.

Yellow confetti rained over the crowd and the songs “Magkaisa,” “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo,” “Bayan Ko” and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” were played.

Soldiers on board military tanks participated in the “Salubungan” rites along with nuns, priests and ordinary citizens.

Salubungan, traditionally held in the afternoon of Feb. 25 but held in the morning this year, is a reenactment of the meeting of civilians with rosaries and flowers and rebel soldiers led by Ramos and Enrile at around 3 p.m. of Feb. 25, 1986 along EDSA, when they linked arms in open defiance of Marcos’ orders for them to disperse and surrender.

Ambulant vendors were disappointed when they found the place almost empty yesterday afternoon. They usually troop to the People Power Monument in the afternoon of Feb. 25 to sell food and souvenir items such as t-shirts and hats with the photo of the late President Corazon Aquino.


The Philippine Star
by Aurea Calica, Jose Rodel Clapano, Paolo Romero, Jaime Laude
February 26, 2012