The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it went on its highest “red alert” since Wednesday to cope with any eventuality even as Duterte called on the protesters to maintain peace.
President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has acknowledged that rampant human rights violations like killings and disappearances as well corruption had attended the martial law regime of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
At a TV interview, Duterte has said the “national day of protest” seeks to give people space for peaceful assembly and voicing grievances.
On Tuesday, President Duterte signed Proclamation 319, declaring September 21 a National Day of Protest.
Marcos’ Proclamation 1081, which imposed martial law in the entire country, was dated September 21, 1972, but t was actually signed on September 17 the same year.
In a report by GMA News, left-leaning lawmaker Teddy Casiño said that while Duterte encouraged protests when he declared the National Day of Protest, the small venue can not accommodate the expected number of participants of the rallies.
“Tomorrow, activists, students, concerned citizens, and several other progressive organizations and individuals will march to Luneta and to different protest centers within and outside the Philippines for the Filipino People’s Day of Protest to condemn the deteriorating human rights situation in the country”, Kapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
The President, in his proclamation, said he made the declaration “in solidarity with the people’s calls against all excesses and shortcomings of the government, and with the people’s desire to uphold the highest standards of integrity, efficiency, and accountability in the government”. “The event is a healthy exercise in democracy”, he said.
On Wednesday, Malacañang also issued Memorandum Circular suspending “work in government offices, both national and local, and classes in public schools at all levels, including state universities and colleges”, in view of Proclamation 319.