Marcos govt offers muted celebration of 1986 People Power revolution

Across the Philippines, youth and progressive groups protest on EDSA Day
Across the Philippines, youth and progressive groups took to the streets on Sunday, February 25, to commemorate the 38th EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, with one unified messaging: no to charter change. Image: Carlo de Vela/Rappler

By Dwight de Leon in Manila

There was no statement from Marcos Jr this year, but in a vlog posted on the anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution, he advised a student to be more discerning amid widespread disinformation.

Didn’t scholars say his family benefitted from that?

It is the second year that the EDSA People Power Revolution is being commemorated under the administration of President and dictator’s son Ferdinand Marcos Jr, and Malacañang appears unwilling to give it the time of day.

On Sunday, February 25, neither Marcos Jr nor the Palace had issued a statement recognising the anniversary of the uprising that kicked the elder Marcos and his family out of Malacañang in 1986.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr during his trip to Hawai'i
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr during his trip to Hawai’i in November 2023. Image: Rappler

This day is obviously awkward for the President. In the past, he described the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA uprising — including his family’s exile in Hawai’i — as among the darkest days of their lives.

But Marcos Jr at least made an effort last year to acknowledge the anniversary of the revolt, saying he was “one with the nation in remembering” the historic day.

“I once again offer my hand of reconciliation to those with different political persuasions to come together as one in forging a better society — one that will pursue progress and peace and a better life for all Filipinos,” he also said on this day in 2023.

Democracy advocates upset
This year, Marcos did not declare the anniversary of the uprising a holiday, upsetting democracy advocates who believe the move was meant to diminish the legacy of the People Power revolution.

There was, however, an official government commemoration this year, through the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, which, in its own words, held a “simple” ceremony on Sunday morning at the People Power monument.

“The EDSA People Power Revolution was a series of demonstrations from 22 to 25 February 1986. It was a civil resistance campaign against the regime of violence and electoral fraud,” the NHCP, which is the chair of the EDSA People Power Commission, posted on its Facebook page.

“The peaceful revolution led to the departure of former President Ferdinand Marcos ending 20 years of dictatorship and restoring democracy in the country.”

The Marcos Sr regime itself was considered among the darkest chapters in Philippine history. Human rights groups say 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 people were tortured, and more than 3000 people were killed under the dictator’s rule.

Where are the Marcoses?
While anti-Marcos groups were holding various events — and protests — across the Philippines to commemorate the brutal dictatorship years, many members of the political family had their own get-together.

On Instagram, First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos posted a group photo of the clan on the dinner table, with a caption that read, “Happy Sunday everyone.”

In the photo are her husband Marcos Jr, former first lady Imelda Marcos, the President’s sister Irene Marcos, and Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Manotoc, the son of Senator Imee Marcos.

Image: Liza Araneta Marcos’ Instagram

Interestingly, the President posted a YouTube vlog on Sunday, reacting to various letters sent to him. In that video, he offered advice to a humanities student who expressed interest in politics and history.

“Your interest in history is very, very, very important, because we have much to learn from history,” he started.

“Problem is, now with the technology we have, mahirap talagang makatingin ano ang fake news, ano ang totoo (it’s really difficult to determine which is the truth and which is ‘fake news’). It’s up to you. Huwag kayong magbabasa isa lang bagay. Basahin ‘nyo lahat (Don’t read just one source. Read everything),” he added.

A series of investigative pieces from Rappler in 2019 documented how the Marcoses took advantage of social media to rehabilitate the family’s image over the years.

The Marcoses documentary. Video: Rappler

Fact checkers from Tsek.PH and Vera Files also found that Marcos Jr benefitted the most from election-related disinformation in the run-up to the 2022 presidential election, which he won via a landslide victory.

So isn’t that comment on history a bit rich coming from him?

Republished with permission from Rappler.

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