President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has removed the Edsa People Power Revolution anniversary as a public holiday and a yearly celebration and reminder of the historic revolt that ended his father’s dictatorship in 1986.
Malacañang on Friday released the list of regular and special holidays in 2024, but what was missing was the Feb. 25 commemoration of the final day of the uprising when the dictator and his family fled Malacañang.
Critics and survivors of the dictatorship immediately denounced the move, saying it was the latest attempt to revise history and deodorize the martial law regime of the President’s father and namesake.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the omission of the commemoration of the Edsa Revolution was “a clear case of historical revisionism, as it undermines the significance of this important event in our nation’s history.”She said Feb. 25, 1986 “marked a turning point” in the Filipinos’ struggle for freedom and democracy.
“It symbolizes the collective power of the Filipino people in reclaiming their rights and overthrowing a dictatorship. This decision is a clear attempt to rewrite our history and erase the significance of this important event,” the House assistant minority leader said.The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (Pahra) said: “This action reflects a troubling initiative by the current Marcos administration to disregard historical facts and downplay the monumental achievement of the Filipino people in peacefully toppling a dictatorship.”
“The Edsa People Power Revolution is a symbol of our resilience and our unwavering commitment to fight authoritarian rule,” Pahra said.
‘Ninoy Day’ still there
Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, with authority from the President, signed Proclamation No. 368 on Oct. 11, which listed 18 public holidays in the country for next year.
The regular holidays are New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, Maundy Thursday on March 28, Good Friday on March 29, Araw ng Kagitingan on April 9, Labor Day on May 1, Independence Day on June 12, National Heroes Day on Aug. 26, Bonifacio Day on Nov. 30, Christmas Day on Dec. 25 and Rizal Day on Dec. 30.
The special nonworking days are Ninoy Aquino Day on Aug. 21, All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on Dec. 8 and Dec. 31, which is the last day of 2024.
The Chinese New Year on Feb. 10, Black Saturday on March 30, All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2, and Christmas Eve on Dec. 24 were also declared special nonworking days.
Malacañang will issue separate proclamations declaring national holidays for the observance of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha based on the Islamic calendar, according to the recommendation of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
The Office of the President (OP) explained that being a Sunday, Feb. 25 next year would have little significance to the public.
“There is minimal socioeconomic impact in declaring this day as a special nonworking holiday since it coincides with the rest day for most workers and laborers,” the OP said in a statement.Despite this, the OP “maintains the respect for the commemoration of the Edsa People Power Revolution,” its statement said.
Brosas rejected the justification, saying it was unacceptable.“The commemoration of the Edsa People Power Revolution is not just about rest days for workers and laborers; it is about recognizing and honoring the historical struggle of the Filipino people for their rights and freedoms,” she said.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, also a Sunday, was declared a special nonworking day by Republic Act No. 10966 signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.
“The December 8 holiday is by law. The Edsa holiday is by virtue of an Executive Order,” Press Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil later clarified.In 2018, Duterte declared Feb. 25 a holiday despite being a Sunday.
On Jan. 30, 2007, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 1224, declaring Feb. 22 to Feb. 25 every year as “Edsa People Power Commemoration Week.” That year, Feb. 25 also fell on a Sunday.
The people power uprising ousted Marcos Sr.’s two-decade rule, which included 14 years of dictatorship under martial rule, a period marked by widespread human rights violations.
From Feb. 22 to Feb. 25, 1986, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, with some estimates saying there were up to 1 million, gathered on a stretch of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in Quezon City between Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame in support of troops that broke away from Marcos Sr. and called for his ouster.
The four-day uprising drove Marcos, his family and close associates out of Malacañang.ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro saw Malacañang’s holiday listing was part of historical revisionism following the shortening of Philippine history as a subject in high school and “disassociating” the Marcos name from “dictatorship” in the social studies curriculum of Grade 6 pupils.She called on Malacañang to “reconsider because this will create more polarization in our society instead of unity.”
Project GunitaFor groups like Project Gunita and the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses in Malacañang (Carmma), the delisting of the Feb. 25 holiday is part of the Marcos family’s moves to whitewash the abuses committed during their patriarch’s 20-year rule.
“This is but another attempt by the Marcos administration to push for the institutionalized ‘forgetting’ of his father’s dictatorship,” said Carmma lead convenor and martial law survivor Judy Taguiwalo. Project Gunita, which digitizes books, films and articles documenting on the dictatorship, noted that this was the second time that the President changed the traditional celebration when he moved it a day early this year.“Will the holiday of Ninoy Aquino’s murder be stricken off the calendar next in 2025?” the group said.
The Aug. 21, 1983, assassination of Aquino, husband of the late President Corazon Aquino, on his return from self-exile sparked massive antidictatorship protests.Lawmakers like Sen. Robin Padilla and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin have also downplayed the importance of studying the martial law period, with Padilla filing a bill proposing to declare Sept. 21, the anniversary of the declaration of martial law, a holiday to honor the so-called unsung heroes—the state forces of the dictatorship.
“All of these have served as tools to distort history and for the nation to simply forget how they (Marcoses) had plundered the nation, and tortured and killed Filipinos who resisted their dictatorship,” Taguiwalo said.
Project Gunita said the Edsa uprising inspired similar antidictatorship revolts in other countries.
“People Power left its mark in the world for toppling one of the most atrocious and corrupt dictatorships in the 20th century, which inspired other nations to boot out their tyrants,” Project Gunita said.
In a statement on the 37th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution this year, the President offered a “hand of reconciliation” to his critics and opponents.
“I am one with the nation in remembering those times of tribulation and how we came out of them united and stronger as a nation,” Mr. Marcos said.
“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 added. INQ