Palace on Marcos comparison: ‘Duterte is his own person’

Paterno Esmaquel II
Palace on Marcos comparison: ‘Duterte is his own person’
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella claims that dictator Ferdinand Marcos 'is not that iconic in the mind of the President'

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella defended President Rodrigo Duterte against criticisms that he scaled down the anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution on Saturday, February 25, because he idolizes the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

“President Duterte is his own person,” Abella said in an interview on state-run dzRB.

Abella explained that Marcos “loomed large in the Philippine landscape, but he is not that iconic in the mind of the President.”

The presidential spokesman also rejected criticisms of Duterte as “the new Macoy,” a nickname given to Marcos.

Abella was reacting to a statement by an opposition lawmaker, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, that Duterte chose a low-key People Power celebration because of his “fascination” with Marcos.

Talagang gustong iwasan ng Pangulo ang paghahambing ng brutalities and atrocities noong Batas Militar sa ilalim ni Marcos (The President really wants to avoid the comparison to the brutalities and atrocities during Martial Law under Marcos),” Lagman said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.  

Duterte’s fiercest critic, Senator Leila de Lima, who surrendered to the police on Friday, September 24, meanwhile urged Filipinos “to inflame the spirit of EDSA” in the face of “looming darkness.”

Reacting to this, Abella said on Saturday: “I would say that her call to keep the spirit of EDSA, of nation-building and freedom alive, is very worthwhile. However, I doubt…if hers is the kind of voice that the people need at this stage.”

Duterte earlier said he believes that the Marcos was the best Philippine president ever, if not for his dictatorship.

Duterte’s mother, the late Soledad Roa Duterte, was an anti-Marcos activist. Three decades after Marcos was ousted, the President approved a hero’s burial for the late dictator in fulfillment of a campaign promise he made to his family, who supported his presidential bid.

Duterte skipped the EDSA anniversary events, including the traditional wreath laying at the People Power Monument on Saturday, February 25, that is usually led by the Chief Executive. He just sent a wreath with his name, instead.  –


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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at