Sunday, February 13, 2005

Feb 25 As National Holiday

Yes! National Holiday means no office, no work! Rejoice, for we have an out-of-town trip! Hope everything aren't mere words. *crossing my fingers*

19th Anniversary of EDSA 1 declared a national holiday

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared Feb. 25, Friday, a special national holiday to give all Filipinos the "full opportunity to honor the memory of the EDSA People Power Revolution with appropriate ceremonies."

She signed Proclamation No. 785 last Feb. 9, stating that it is "fitting and proper" that all Filipinos be given an opportune time to reminisce and celebrate the restoration of democracy in the country.

Arroyo urges the nation to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the People Power 1 in recognition of the reforms brought about by the revolt.

"The EDSA People Power Revolution restored our democratic institutions and ushered in political, social, and economic reforms in the country," she said in the proclamation.

The EDSA People Power 1 on Jan. 22-25, 1986, forced former President Ferdinand Marcos out of Malacañang and led to the assumption to power of President Corazon C. Aquino, wife of slain Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

Meanwhile, President Arroyo yesterday reorganized the government's peace negotiating panel with communist rebels as part of efforts to resume stalled talks.

Arroyo said the government negotiating team will now be headed by former Labor Secretary Nieves Confesor, an international mediator and negotiator.

Other members of the reorganized panel are lawyers Rene Sarmiento and Sedfrey Candelaria, university professor Annabelle Rama, and veteran journalist Paulyn Sicam.

Arroyo expressed confidence that the new team will have "fresh creative approaches to restart the stalled peace talks."

The negotiations have been suspended since last August when the guerrillas canceled a scheduled round of meetings to protest their continued inclusion in the terror lists of the United States, the European Union, Canada, and New Zealand.

Arroyo reiterated a proposal for the two sides to forge a ceasefire to move the talks forward.

"Our experience over the past year has shown that we cannot talk and fight at the same time," she said. "We must silence our guns if we are to authentically hear each other over the peace table."

The rebels have already turned down the proposed truce.

Hostilities between the military and the communist rebels have escalated since the peace talks stalled.

Since the weekend alone, 17 communist rebels and two soldiers have been killed in separate clashes in Southern Philippines.

Last Wednesday, three guerrillas were also captured after a clash with government troops in Cattaran town in Cagayan province, 420 kilometers north of Manila, a military spokesman said.

"Troops were on combat patrol when they encountered about 12 guerrillas, triggering the exchange of gunfire," said Major Bartolome Bacarro. "Three insurgents were arrested."

Bacarro said no casualties were reported on either side.

Communist rebels have been fighting the Philippine government since the late 1960s, making the movement one of the longest-running leftist insurgencies in Asia. (With reports from DPA)

Source: Manila Bulletin
11 February 2005

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