Celebrations, protests to mark 32nd EDSA People Power anniversary on Sunday

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 24) — Both government celebrations and protests by civic groups are set to mark the 32nd commemoration of the EDSA People power anniversary on Sunday.

As the National Historic Commission (NHCP) of the Philippines readies its EDSA commemoration on Sunday, some groups have also planned rallies to mark the historic holiday.

The NHCP is celebrating the event with the theme “EDSA 2018: Effecting Change Towards Strengthened Democracy.” It has scheduled a wreath laying, mass, and flag raising ceremony at the EDSA People Power Monument on Sunday.

The program will also feature a reenactment of the “Salubungan,” the coming together of the military and civilians during the EDSA Revolution.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos, who was a key figure in revolution, will be this year's guest of honor and speaker. He will be conferred the People’s Power Heroes Award.

Representatives from civil society and various religious sectors will also join in the celebration, the NHCP said in a press release.

Aside from this, government agencies have scheduled medical and dental services from 7a.m. to 1p.m. along White Plains, EDSA on Sunday. A "Diskwento Caravan" with discounted food items, indigenous products, and leather goods will also be set up until 3 p.m.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who missed last year's anniversary event, will not attend the commemoration this year, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque confirmed. NHCP Chairman Rene Escalante said Duterte will be in Mindanao during the celebration.

READ: Duterte to skip EDSA People Power anniversary rites again

In his message from Malacañang, however, Duterte said he "joins the entire nation" in commemorating the People Power Revolution.

He said it has become "the enduring symbol of our determination to fight for what is right and... to defend and uphold our cherished democratic values."

"May this occasion foster unity and solidarity as we pursue our hopes and aspirations for our nation. Let us further enrich our democracy by empowering our citizenry, defending their rights and strengthening the institutions that safeguard their freedoms," Duterte added.

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo will lead a commemoration of the People Power Revolution in Naga City, her office said in a press release.

Groups to hold protests on People Power Anniversary

Some groups, however, have chosen to mark the historic day with protests.

In Mendiola, groups led by the Movement Against Tyranny, Rise Up For Life and For Rights, Bayan Metro Manila and Stop the Killings Network plan to offer flowers and candles to honor martial law martyrs.

They will also criticize issues such as the drug war, charter change, martial law in Mindanao, and the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The event will be joined by martial law survivors former Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Judy Taguiwalo and former Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo. Contingents from Mindanao and Eastern Visayas will also be at the event, the groups said in a press release.

Meanwhile, militant groups including the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Sanlakas and Partido Lakas ng Masa, will hold another program in Quezon City. The groups will assemble at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani to launch their “Kongreso ng Masa,” BMP said in a press release.

They will also merge with political alliance Laban ng Masa and march towards Camp Crame, BMP said.

Among the issues they will call out is the administration’s move for charter change, which they say will only benefit Duterte’s political allies.

Early protesters

As early as Saturday, however, some groups had already converged at the People Power monument. The different groups protested several issues, including charter change, and alleged extrajudicial killings in the drug war.

Some of the protesters have camped at the site for over a week, while others say they plan to continue staying until Sunday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Quezon City Police Chief Guillermo Eleazer said protesters can stay only until 7 p.m. However, some said they will hold their ground and stay to continue programs tomorrow.

The People Power Revolution in 1986 was a civil resistance against the dictatorship of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

This show of solidarity among different sectors led to the ouster of Marcos.

Around 1,850 policemen will be deployed to maintain peace and order during its commemoration.

The national police said it will carry out maximum tolerance during the rallies.

CNN Philippines' Makoi Popioco contributed to this report.