Celebrations Mark Anniversary of Marcos Flight
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Jubilant Filipinos today celebrated the first anniversary of a ″people power″ revolution that forced President Ferdinand E. Marcos into exile after 20 years of autocratic rule.
President Corazon Aquino, who was swept to power by the uprising, told a crowd after attending an open air Roman Catholic Mass that the revolution had ″restored freedom.″
″Now we have to continue with the same ‘people power’ spirit of selflessness and dedication to achieve our other goal, our economic goal,″ she said.
Earlier, she saluted soldiers who defied orders to crush the uprising.
″In the moment of truth, when you were ordered to fire on marchers for peace, for once in your lives you disobeyed,″ Mrs. Aquino said at a flag- raising ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo, where the anti-Marcos revolt began Feb. 22, 1986.
″You disobeyed the dictator in obedience of a higher call,″ she said.
Church bells rang out at dawn throughout the nation, launching the day of celebrations that included speeches, Masses, fireworks, parades and concerts by American folksingers Peter, Paul and Mary and Filipino musicians, some of whom went into exile during the Marcos era.
Thousands of Filipinos took advantage of the holiday and the warm sun to turn out for the Manila festivities, which became a giant street carnival.
Police estimated as many as 1 million people swarmed around EDSA boulevard, where civilians one year ago gathered by the hundreds of thousands to protect anti-Marcos soldiers from attack by troops loyal to him.
The rebellion culminated on Feb. 25, 1986, when Marcos fled the presidential palace. He later flew to exile in Hawaii.
Helicopters dropped flowers and three air force jets streaked overhead today as civilians embraced a group of soldiers led by military chief Gen. Fidel V. Ramos in a re-enactment of the unity between civilians and the once- hated military during the mutiny.
Armed forces spokesman Col. Honesto Isleta said the military received a report that Marcos loyalists would try to assassinate Ramos at noon, but the hour passed without incident.
Absent from the festivities was Juan Ponce Enrile, Marcos’ defense minister who led the revolt along with Ramos. He stayed on as defense minister under Mrs. Aquino until November, when he was fired after the government said it had blocked a coup attempt by officers linked to him.
As the nation celebrated, thousands of troops remained on full alert to prevent Marcos loyalists or Communist rebels from disrupting the anniversary. The alert began Sunday.
The military said that on the eve of the celebrations, Communist rebels killed five people in Cebu City, 360 miles southeast of Manila. Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ermita, the deputy chief of staff, said he was optimistic there would be no trouble today.
However, the Manila Times and Malaya newspapers quoted unidentified military intelligence sources as saying Marcos loyalists smuggled about 2,000 M-16 rifles into the country two weeks ago.
In a televised address Tuesday night, Mrs. Aquino appealed to all groups in the deeply divided country to recapture the spirit of the revolution and rebuild the nation.
″Put aside the arrogance of arms,″ she said. ″Our revolution taught us that people linking hands are stronger than tanks, that true democracy is stronger than tyranny.″
The Communist-dominated National Democratic Front charged Tuesday that Mrs. Aquino had betrayed the spirit of the revolution by failing to establish a ″just, democratic and free society.″
The Christians for National Liberation, one of 12 organizations in the Front, said in a statement: ″Are we not again viewing the unfolding of a government subject to reactionary influences and collaboration with the United States? ... The Aquino government ... declared war against the very people who helped in installing her into power.″
Hawkers on EDSA Boulevard today sold dolls of Mrs. Aquino, yellow T-shirts and drinks. At one booth, crowds paid 10 cents for three darts to throw at yellow balloons mounted on Marcos campaign posters from last year.
Several people in the crowd gave the Aquino government mixed marks.
″It’s not yet stable economically,″ said Jose Cagurangan, 20, a college student. ″But it is nearing stability politically.″ He said he hoped Mrs. Aquino would purge more corrupt officials in her second year.
Dr. Mercedes Alba, 31, said she admired Mrs. Aquino because ″she’s very sincere″ and cautioned, ″Changes cannot be done overnight.″
But Naz Janer, a nurse, complained that ″nothing has changed so far because the fundamental problems of the country are still here,″ citing ″bureaucratic capitalism″ and ″feudalism.″
Several air force troops, part of the 3,000-member security force, complained about Mrs. Aquino’ performance but refused to give their names.
″Nothing has changed,″ complained one lieutenant. ″We have the same kind of people, the same kind of system.″