Arroyo fears people power—ex-Sen Aquino
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:03:00 02/26/2009
MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo skipped the People Power anniversary rites on Wednesday probably because she was afraid to remind people that they could mount a similar uprising against her, a former senator said Thursday.
“Baka ayaw niya ipaalala sa tao na meron palang people power. Baka mamaya magkaroon ng People Power laban sa kanya, ayaw na niyang ipaalala pa yung People Power. [Maybe she didn’t want to remind people about People Power. There could be People Power against her],” Agapito “Butz” Aquino said in an interview on ABS-CBN television.
Aquino is the younger brother of the martyred former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. The elder Aquino’s assassination in 1983 was one of the catalysts of the bloodless uprising in February 1986 that toppled the Marcos dictatorship and catapulted his widow, former president Corazon Aquino, to power.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a no-show at the culmination of the four-day celebration of the 23rd anniversary of the revolt at the People Power monument along the EDSA highway last Wednesday, eliciting criticism from former president Fidel Ramos, one of the key players in the uprising.
Arroyo instead visited a job fair at the Philippine Overseas
Employment Agency (POEA), about a hundred meters from the People Power monument.
In a separate interview on ABS-CBN, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said Arroyo did not snub Wednesday’s rites since the schedule drafted by the People Power Commission called for her attendance at the kick-off rites last Sunday, where she laid a wreath at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery).
Asked if Malacañang would pacify Ramos, Remonde said: “We have explained that the President did not skip or minimize People Power 1. She gives importance to this.”
“Like what the President said, the spirit of EDSA must be harnessed so that we can unite against a fiercer dictatorship, the dictatorship of poverty, the dictatorship of the global crisis,” he said in Filipino.
“The call of the moment is to create jobs for people that are losing jobs,” he added.
Aquino stressed the importance of celebrating People Power, saying, “It is said to be the Philippines’ shining moment in history, when we tried to remove a dictator as peacefully as what happened. The entire world was celebrating with the Philippines. It was like we taught the world about democracy.”
Arroyo herself was a beneficiary of a People Power-type uprising, when in January 2001, thousands of protesters and a defection of the military top brass ousted then president Joseph Estrada, who was besieged with corruption allegations.
Arroyo was Estrada’s vice president.
The President has weathered numerous street protests demanding her resignation since 2005 when she was accused of cheating to win a fresh six-year term in the 2004 elections, followed by a string of corruption allegations.
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