A city councilor defended Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto from criticisms about his whereabouts during the 37th anniversary of the People Power Revolution last Saturday.
Councilor Kiko Rustia responded to screenwriter Jerry Gracio‘s comment about the government’s commemoration of the historic event in coordination with a city government and the Spirit of EDSA Foundation, among others.
The flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies on February 25 were led by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, whose city is where the iconic People Power Monument stands.
She was joined by representatives of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the Spirit of EDSA Foundation, national and local government agencies, and those belonging to the military, civic, and members of the religious sector.
The program included the singing of patriotic songs such as “Isang Lahi,” “Magkaisa,” and “Bayan Ko” as well as the release of white doves known to symbolize peace.
It was the first time the 1986 EDSA Revolution was commemorated under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. whose two-decade rule was ended by the revolt.
Marcos Sr. also imposed a nine-year Martial Law which Amnesty International said had some 70,000 people imprisoned, 34,000 others tortured and over 3,200 individuals killed.
His regime ended after millions of Filipinos took to the streets to protest his totalitarian rule, resulting in the near-bloodless People Power Revolution on the famous highway which ushered in political, social, and economic reforms in the country post-dictatorship.
Meanwhile, Marcos Jr. on Saturday said he was “one with the nation in remembering those times of tribulation and how we came out of them united and stronger as a nation.”
“I once again offer my hand of reconciliation to those with different political persuasions to come together as one in forging a better society — one that will pursue progress and peace and a better life for all Filipinos,” he said.
As pictures of the 37th anniversary’s commemoration appeared online, Gracio commented about the absence of Sotto and juxtaposed it with Belmonte’s presence.
“Mayor Joy Belmonte of Quezon City attending yesterday’s EDSA Commemoration. The only Metro Manila mayor present during the ceremonies. Not even our beVico dared to attend. Joy lang matapang,” the screenwriter tweeted on February 26.
This was seen by Rustia, who described Gracio’s take as “disappointing.”
“Sana inalam [niyo] po kung nasan [siya] nung araw na ‘yun bago [niyo] sabihin na ‘di [niya] ginunita ang EDSA,” the city councilor said in response to the tweet.
“Walang fanfare. Walang media. Just a solemn celebration with the community founded by the ideals and principles of EDSA,” Rustia added, referring to a screengrab of another Pasig City councilor that featured Sotto.
The screengrab was from Pasig City Councilor Kin Cruz‘s February 25 post with the head: “Misa Pasasalamat para sa 37th Napico Anniversary and People Power Revolution Anniversary”
It was accompanied by emojis of a yellow ribbon and the Philippine flag.
Cruz said the thanksgiving mass was attended by Sotto and other Pasig City officials, as well NAPICO’s parishioners.
In one of the photos, Sotto was seen posing with two elderly women.
“Just putting it out here. Vico was at the anniversary of the NAPICO Community, and celebrated the People Power Revolution Anniversary there,” Rustia said in another tweet.
“NAPICO = Ninoy Aquino Pilot Community. NAPICO is probably the closest he can celebrate EDSA Anniv [Anniversary] within his jurisdiction,” he added.
“No fanfare. No media. Just a solemn celebration with the community founded by the ideals of EDSA,” Rustia continued.
Another Twitter user said that Sotto also did the same initiative in 2022. She shared a screengrab of a post of Pasig City Councilor Corie Raymundo which featured the mayor attending a mass before.
Video content creator Gio San Pedro also shared his two cents on the matter.
“Vico wasn’t in QC [Quezon City] to attend the event because he’s at the 37th Anniversary of NAPICO (Ninoy Aquino Pilot Community) in Brgy. Manggahan, Pasig City,” he tweeted.
“The People Power Revolution happened throughout the country, not just on EDSA, so commemorating it doesn’t require one to be there,” San Pedro added.
According to records, NAPICO was formerly the Association of Landless Residents of Manggahan (ALRM).
ALRM’s story is rooted on Feb. 25, 1986, the day of the EDSA Revolution, when a group of urban migrants staged their own “people power” by occupying 35 hectares of a vacant lot in Manggahan, Pasig.
It was registered under the name of the Metro Manila Commission, now known as the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and was originally intended as a housing site for the employees of the commission.
The ALRM was then organized following the urban migrants’ occupation.
Its name was changed to NAPICO or Ninoy Aquino Pilot Community in memory of the late opposition senator whose death sparked huge street demonstrations and gave birth to a broad, anti-Marcos movement culminating in the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
Vico on Marcos
Meanwhile, Sotto in 2016 expressed his sentiments against the quiet burial of Marcos Sr. in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani by tweeting the following:
“Huwag tayong magpaloko! Tama na ang historical revisionism!!! Ipaglaban ang HUSTISIYA!!! #MarcosNOTaHero.”
Huwag tayong magpaloko! Tama na ang historical revisionism!!! Ipaglaban ang HUSTISIYA!!! #MarcosNOTaHero. pic.twitter.com/ZbtCOMEYRd
— Vico Sotto (@VicoSotto) November 18, 2016
Sotto also responded to several Twitter users by sharing links to some Supreme Court resolutions involving the Marcos family. He additionally said that Filipinos should “never forget.”
The phrase has been associated with calls to continue to remember the Martial Law period and Marcos Sr.’s regime amid efforts to distort historical narratives in favor of him and his family.
“Forgive, but [never] forget. Move on, but in justice. Not just Martial Law; also Maguindanao Massacre, PDAF Scam, list goes on [and] on,” Sotto said in response to a Twitter user before.
At that time, he was a city councilor under the administration of former Pasig city mayor Bobby Eusebio.
In the 2022 national elections — which Marcos Jr. won — Sotto did not publicly endorse any candidate.