PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday, Sept. 18, said he has declared Thursday, Sept. 21, as a “day of protest,” amid plans by his critics to hold protest rallies on that day which marks the 45th anniversary of the proclamation of martial law.
Mr. Duterte’s critics have increasingly likened him to a predecessor he has openly admired from time to time, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, who established a dictatorship with his martial-law proclamation dated Sept. 21 and enforced two days later, that year of 1972.
During his visit to the wake of slain police officer Junior Hilario, Mr. Duterte said classes and work in government offices are suspended on the 21st.
“I have declared it as a day of protest. Lahat ng gustong mag-protesta laban sa gobyerno, laban sa pulis, sa military o lahat, magbabaan kayo diyan, mag-protesta kami,” Mr. Duterte said. (All those who want to protest against the government, the police, the military or everyone, step out, protest.)
“Walang trabaho at…kung gusto ‘yung taga-gobyerno, meron man ‘yang ‘yung mga unyon-unyon diyan, the unions created under the — they should participate,” he added. (No work and…those in government…the unions created under the — they should participate.)
But he also added: “I’m asking you, do not commit crimes. No vandalism, no lahat kasi ang pulis pati ang (nothing, because the police and the) Army sa barracks lang. Ang makikita ninyo diyan ang traffic lang (All you’ll see is the traffic),” Mr. Duterte said.
Earlier, an alliance opposing the government’s alleged fascist measures had accused the Duterte administration of “trying to desperately sabotage” the planned anti-dictatorship Sept. 21 rally at the Luneta Park.
“In an effort to scare rally participants, President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte has hinted that armed members of the New People’s Army would join the event and threatened to declare martial law nationwide if the rally turned violent,” the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) led by former senator Rene A.V. Saguisag, former Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri J. Colmenares, former Quezon representative Lorenzo R. Tañada III, Free Legal Assistance Group chairman Jose Manuel I. Diokno, activist nun Mary John Mananzan, and University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor Michael Tan.
“He (Duterte) also said he would declare a holiday on the 21st, apparently in order to keep students and employees at home and prevent them from going to Luneta en masse from their schools and workplaces,” MAT said.
Also, the group said it had received reports last Sunday that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council would be holding a nationwide earthquake drill in the afternoon of Sept. 21, simultaneous with the Luneta rally.
“We will not be intimidated by such actions. We will not be prevented from exercising our constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly,” the alliance said.
“The Movement Against Tyranny calls on our people to come to the Luneta on Sept. 21 and stand together, in solidarity and in peace, to show our opposition to the state-perpetrated extrajudicial killings and President Duterte’s dangerous drift towards authoritarian rule,” it said.
“Let this year’s anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of martial law be a drawing of the line against the emergence of a new dictatorship. We shall gather at the Luneta from 4-8 pm united in one call: ‘Stop the killings, never again to tyranny and dictatorship,’” the group added. — interaksyon.com with Rosemarie A. Zamora