MANILA, Philippines - Thousands of people turned out at separate concerts staged by the Liberal Party (LP) and the campaign of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Manuel Villar on Thursday.
Villar's concert for his supporters finally pushed through, after it was reportedly delayed due to tropical storm Ondoy back in September. However, before the concert, for the first time since the NP ticket was completed in November, the party’s candidates got to be with detained former Marines Col. Ariel Querubin.
NP standard bearer Manny Villar said he is grateful they were allowed to visit Querubin, saying they will continue to work for his release.
Querubin is under court martial proceedings, following the 2006 Marines standoff in Fort Bonifacio, Makati.
"Ang aming hangarin ay makalabas siya. Gagawin namin ang lahat para mabigyan siya ng pagkakataon na makakampanya at masabi mga plataporma at adhikain niya sa bayan," Villar said.
The military, however, criticized Villar's group for allegedly campaigning inside Camp Aguinaldo. The Armed Forces prohibits political activity in all its camps.
The military said the NP violated this policy when the candidates staged a unity walk, and rode vehicles that had campaign posters.
The military warned the NP not to repeat the incident.
Camp Aguinaldo to Mall of Asia
From Camp Aguinaldo, the NP ticket proceeded to the party's concert at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City.
The concert, titled "Wowowillie meets Rockatropa," was originally scheduled on September 26, but was reportedly moved to February, after tropical storm Ondoy hit the country that day.
Villar denied speculation ‘Rockatropa’ pushed through on Thursday to match the EDSA I commemoration program of LP.
"Matagal na ‘yong Rockatropa. Matagal na ‘yon. Wala kaming tinatapatan. Baka kami ang tinapatan," he said.
More than 20,000 people showed up at the NP concert, where Villar handed out scholarships and prizes, to attract the youth vote.
Sea of yellow in Araneta
Meanwhile, dressed in yellow, supporters of Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III filled the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao to the rafters on Thursday.
The event was a political rally for Aquino and a commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution.
Rock band Sponge Cola performed to warm up the crowd before the Liberal Party's vice presidential candidate, Senator Mar Roxas, appeared on stage.
In his speech, Roxas cited the injustices of the Marcos dictatorship and called on the crowd, to continue fighting for their rights.
"Mga kababayan, nandito tayo ngayon-di malayo sa kung saan milyung-milyun ng ating mga kababayan ay nagtipon para manindigan laban sa pang-aapi; para harapang hamunin ang diktaturya: ‘Gawin na ninyo ang gagawin ninyo, pero hindi kami aatras sa inyo!,’" Roxas said.
Aquino was more straightforward. He compared the Marcos regime to the present administration.
"Noon, si Marcos ang tanging batas. Ngayon, sa maraming pagkakataon, ay tila hindi na ginagalang ang batas, pati na ang ating Saligang Batas. Noon, ang eleksiyon ay Lutong Makoy; ngayon, ang eleksyon ay Lutong Gloria at Garci. Noong araw, na- momorsiyento sa proyekto ang mga tiwali. Ngayon, ang naiiwan sa proyekto ay iilang porsiyento na lamang," he said.
Tribute to parents
Aquino also gave tribute to his parents, the late former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former president Corazon Aquino.
Aquino said he will always remember his martyred father's advice.
"Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength," he said.
Aquino and Roxas then left the stage to address the crowd gathered outside the coliseum.
Yellow confetti rained over the star-studded affair with appearances from celebrities like Dingdong Dantes, Noel Cabangon, Ryan Cayabyab and Ogie Alcasid.
The rally was followed by a march, which the Liberal Party said symbolizes the mobilization of the yellow army.
Activists rally at Mendiola
Meanwhile, various activist groups, including Karapatan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kadamay and Anakpawis, marched from the Welcome Rotunda in Quezon City to Mendiola Bridge in Manila to mark the EDSA I anniversary.
They converged at the Mendiola Bridge just outside Malacañang Palace to press for the rights of the poor and unemployed.
They decried how poverty remains 24 years after EDSA 1 overthrew a dictator.
Bayan-National Capital Region specifically warned that a new EDSA revolt could be sparked due to extreme hunger and poverty.
The group also slammed the big celebrations of the Liberal Party at the Araneta Coliseum in QC and Mall of Asia in Pasay, which they dismissed as lavish and overlook the reality of poverty-stricken people.
The group says the 2 leading presidential contenders should just compete for better poverty programs rather than political fanfare.
Yet the activist groups still managed to campaign for their own senatorial bets.
The march to the Palace was headed by a jeep with posters/streamers of Makabayan senatorial candidates Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo who are running under the ticket of NP’s Villar. With reports from Lynda Jumilla, Ces Oreña-Drilon, and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News, and the ABS-CBN News Channel