The low turnout at Saturday’s anti-Duterte rally showed that efforts to unseat the chief executive are nothing but a fantasy, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a radio interview yesterday.
Activist groups Bunyog, Oust Duterte Movement, and Kilusan Kontra Tsina (Movement Against China) protested on EDSA against the increasing influence of China on the Philippine government days ahead of the 34th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, which ousted then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Radyo Patrol reports.
The groups sought to attract 1,000 people to join the protest, but said that only about 400 people actually showed up. This was contradicted by the police, who said that only about a hundred turned up at the monument, the Philippine Star reports.
Panelo taunted the protesters on Radyo Inquirer, saying in Filipino, “The attendance was poor, right? Wasn’t it less than a hundred who turned out? That’s what I’m saying. It’s all a pipe dream. It’s wishful thinking. That’s the statement we [in the government] have to make.”
“It’s nothing,” he gloated. “They can always try, but that’s as far as they will go.”
The spokesman added that the president, an unabashed Marcos ally, will be skipping the EDSA Revolution anniversary gathering. Duterte has been a no-show at the People Power event ever since he took office in 2016. Panelo defended the president’s decision and said, “If he doesn’t want to attend, why would we force him?”
Backpedaling a bit, Panelo added, “I will ask him what is his reason for doing so.”
Duterte was widely criticized in 2016 for authorizing the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, a graveyard reserved for the country’s heroes. Despite Marcos’ atrocious human rights record and staggering corruption, Duterte called him a “great son” of Ilocos and declared his birthday a holiday in the province.
Marcos’ martial law years were marked with countless human rights violations, including the arrests and disappearances of thousands of people believed to have been tortured and murdered.
While the anti-graft court has junked several cases against the Marcos family, Ferdinand’s wife Imelda Marcos was convicted of graft in 2018 over the creation of private organizations in Switzerland. Many believe that the Swiss accounts were used by the Marcos family to funnel their ill-gotten wealth out of the country.