PRESIDENT Duterte declared September 21 as a day of protest. Even it's not considered a holiday and that he has yet to sign it on paper, there will be no classes and work in the government - or at least that is what he assured.
The date has a significance in Philippine history, because this was the time that former President Ferdinand Marcos declared Presidential Proclamation 1081 or infamously called as martial law. For the "millennials" indoctrinated by their parents and grandparents who are loyal to Marcos, they believed that this was the golden era of the Philippines, and yet only least they knew that beyond the so-called "progress" was a darker part of history where corruption thrived and massive killings happened over time.
Left-leaning activists and the political opposition of Duterte administration have long been feared that history will repeat itself, all the more that Duterte already declared a Mindanao-wide martial law as a result to the terrorist attack in Marawi City; and further extended it to three months until the end of the year. But what's stopping Duterte from declaring a nationwide Martial Law, right?
And yet, Duterte allowed everyone to protest this September 21. The left-leaning progressive groups under the Makabayan bloc find it a little suspicious, but nonetheless the president simply gave a go signal to air out everyone's grievances even that means the core of it is against his leadership and his administration. Even government officials and employees are given the opportunity to protest.
There are many reasons to protest on September 21, it's an exercise of our civil liberties as a democratic country. Of course, some will protest based on their political interests: the Left will based it on their ideological template that is consistent to any administrations this country had; the political opposition groups, led by the bitter Liberal Party, will ride on the legitimate issues to cover their inability to move on from last year's elections. Desperate, we will see them continue to find loopholes and make it bigger just to discredit this administration.
And yet, extrajudicial killings are real, innocent victims became collaterals of the war on drugs, and corruption in the government is still prevalent, much more of the reason why we should be protesting about. We protest not necessarily to destabilize but to keep our government in-check and remind officials about their sworn duty for the people. Because it's necessary, and it does not automatically mean you are an agent of whatever political affiliations.
Coincidentally, this year, September 21 is considered a holiday for all Muslims because this is in celebration of Amun Jadid, the Islamic New Year based in the lunar calendar. September 21, 2017 is equivalent to Muharram 1, 1439 Hijra.
Traditionally, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos issue a memorandum that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and some select cities and municipalities like Cotabato provinces and Iligan City will have no classes and work.
However, the holiday is also subject to the president's announcement whether there will be more places to be put on holiday. But even without proclamation, all Muslims can avail of the holiday.
In light of everything that have happened in Marawi City under the chasms of terrorism and misrepresentation of Islam and so much more, this also affected not only Muslim populations but as a community that is under threat of indifference and ignorance.
May we start a new year, with more open mind and positivist view of healing the nation, instead of dividing it further.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 20, 2017.