MANILA, Philippines – It's final: President Rodrigo Duterte will not attend the EDSA People Power Revolution anniversary event in Camp Aguinaldo on Friday, February 24.
His aide, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, confirmed this on Wednesday, February 22.
The Camp Aguinaldo event is one of the activities of the Duterte administration's celebration of the 31st EDSA anniversary.
On Friday, there will be a morning mass, followed by the giving of the Spirit of EDSA Foundation award.
On Saturday, February 25, there will be a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony at the People Power Monument in Quezon City that is usually led by the Chief Executive and attended by key players in EDSA such as former president Fidel Ramos. It is not clear if Duterte will be present.
Traditionally, the country's Chief Executive leads commemoration rites and attends at least one event from the almost week-long celebration.
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo skipped the main event in 2008 to avoid anti-government protest rallies held on the same day. At the time, her administration was being pummeled by corruption allegations.
Former presidents, including Ramos and Benigno Aquino III, have been invited to the Camp Aguinaldo event, said Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra in a Palace news briefing on Tuesday, February 21.
Another major difference in the first EDSA Revolution anniversary under the Duterte administration is the scrapping of the "Salubungan," the reenactment of the union of forces that symbolized the end of the Marcos regime.
The Palace said the event is no longer "a celebration of the past" but a "reflection on what can happen in the future."
But critics, including Vice President Leni Robredo, have questioned the administration's decision.
Robredo said she believes the EDSA Revolution anniversary "deserves a more dignified treatment than a 'quiet celebration.'"
Duterte supporters are set to gather in Quirino Grandstand and other parts of the country from February 25 to 26.
Groups protesting extrajudicial killings, the death penalty, and the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani will gather on February 25. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.