DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /25 February) — On the night of February 25, 1986, Fiscal Rodrigo Duterte woke up his children Paolo, then 11, and Sara, then 8, and while huddled in their car bound for downtown to join the celebration of the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship, told them to “remember this night” and to “never forget.”
“I was playing in dreamland when my father interrupted my slumber and told me to get dressed because we have to go downtown. While we were huddled in the car, he told us, ‘Timan-i ninyo ning gabhiona ni. Ayaw ninyo kalimti’ (Remember this night. Never forget),” recalled Sara, now mayor of Davao City, in a statement issued on February 24, 2017, in reaction to a letter written by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on the 31st commemoration of EDSA.
Duterte was a no-show at the EDSA Shrine last year. He was a no-show again on Sunday at the commemoration of the 32nd anniversary of the People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship and paved the way for the then city prosecutor to be thrust into the political arena as OIC Vice Mayor of Davao City and 30 years and seven terms as mayor later, the 16th President of the Philippines and the first Mindanawon to lead the nation.
The President spent the day resting at home, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go said in response to a message sent by MindaNews on Sunday.
“We confirm that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will not attend the People Power anniversary celebration. The President will be in Davao,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement issued Saturday afternoon.
Duterte’s office sent out a four-paragraph statement, an hour ahead of Roque’s statement.
“I join the entire nation in commemorating the 32nd Anniversary of the People Power Revolution,” the statement which bore Duterte’s signature, read.
The Filipino people, he said, “have shown the world how a people’s courage and resolve can alter the course of our nation’s history,” that the People Power Revolution “has become the enduring symbol of our determination to fight for what is right and — during our country’s most crucial and trying times — 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,” Duterte said. “Let us further enrich our democracy by empowering our citizenry, defending their rights and strengthening the institutions that safeguard their freedoms,” Duterte said, adding he wishes everyone “a meaningful celebration.”
While Duterte continues to enjoy a high popularity rating, he is being criticized by various groups in the country and abroad, for allegedly turning into a dictator.
Addressing his troops at the military camp in Mawab, Compostela Valley on January 22, Duterte ordered them to shoot him if he exceeds his term even by one day and if he acts like a dictator.
“Kaya ako ‘pag sumobra, gusto kong mag-diktador, barilin ninyo ako. Hindi ako nagbobola. (So if I want to be a dictator, shoot me. I am not joking), Duterte said.
In Malacanang on February 7, Duterte told 217 alleged surrenderers of the New People’s Army that he felt insulted by allegations he is a puppet of the United States but admitted he is a dictator, claiming it is necessary.
“Muingon mo’g diktador? Diktador gyud ko. Kay hindi ko mag-diktador, p__t__na, walang mangyayari sa bayan na ‘to. Tinuod (You say I’m a dictator? I’m really a dictator. Because if I will not be a dictator (expletive), nothing will happen in this country. That’s true), Duterte said.
“Og di ko mag-diktador kana style nako ron, walay mahitabo sa atong nasod” (If I don’t act like a dictator, like my style now, nothing will happen in this country), he stressed, adding it is “kinahanglan. Tutal pinili man ko ninyo. Ngano di man ninyo ko sundon?” (necessary. After all, you voted for me. Why will you not obey me?).
Recently, Duterte was described by the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community as one of the leaders in Southeast Asia who is a “threat to democracy” but Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo dismissed that description, telling ANC’s Headstart that Duterte is not a threat to democracy but a “threat to criminal elements.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)
READ ALSO: People Power 1986 and Duterte’s destiny