MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte called for unity and solidarity on the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution on Sunday, even he skipped the commemoration rites for the uprising again.
In a statement released to the media, Duterte urged the public to commemorate the peaceful 1986 uprising, which he said showed the world "how a people's courage and resolve can alter the course of our nation's history."
"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 value," the President said.
"May this occasion foster unity and solidarity as we pursue our hopes and aspiration for our nation," he added.
Duterte also enjoined the public to strengthen democracy by "empowering our citizenry, defending their rights and strengthening the institution that safeguard their freedoms."
The President, however, for the second year in a row, skipped the commemoration of the EDSA People Power which ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Duterte has been vocal about his admiration for Marcos. In 2016, the President allowed the late strongman's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani after a final go-signal from the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Party said the country needs to look back at the lessons from the EDSA revolt, and that the spirit of the uprising remains alive.
"Malayo pa ang ating kailangang lakbayin, at marami pa tayong kailangang gawin, ngunit buhay ang diwa ng EDSA sa ating mga puso -- patuloy tayong tatayo at lalaban, para sa kalayaan, para sa katwiran, at para sa bayan," the LP said in a statement .
(We still have a long way to go, and much to do, but the spirit of EDSA lives in our hearts--we will continue to stand up and fight for freedom, for reason, and for the country.)
Tension marred early EDSA rites on Sunday as the police removed the tents of protesting farmers, fishermen, indigenous peoples groups and informal settlers to make way for the official activities attended by former President Fidel V. Ramos and other officials.