PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte clarified on Monday that September 21, the day that marks the 45th anniversary of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law nationwide, was not declared as a holiday.
Speaking to reporters in Bagumbong, North Caloocan, Duterte said he was merely declaring September 21, Thursday, as “National Day of Protest,” which will allow any Filipino citizens to demonstrate mass protests all throughout the country.
“September 21 is not a holiday. I have declared it as a [National] Day of Protest. All who want to stage protests against the government, police, military and everyone, come down here and launch a rally,” the President said after his wake visit to a policeman who died in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City.
“Even us in the government, I will also protest because we have meager salary. We don’t have equipment. We don’t have allowance. Let’s all stage massive protests,” he added.
Duterte’s statement came after he made a recent pronouncement that he was mulling to declare a “holiday,” in anticipation of the conduct of massive rally on the 45th anniversary commemoration of martial law imposed by Marcos.
In an interview aired on state-run PTV4 on September 15, Dutete said he would announce September 21 as a holiday to avoid chaos during the protests that will be carried out by militant groups.
“At this early, I am announcing that I am ordering a holiday so no one will get hurt, in case of demonstration and it gets chaotic. There will be no work in government and classes are suspended that day,” the Chief Executive said.
Duterte, in his latest remark, reiterated that office work and classes in schools would be suspended on September 21.
He, however, has yet to provide additional details regarding the suspension.
The President also reminded the communists not to commit crimes and violent acts when they stage protests.
“The red army, come down here, I will not arrest you. I will not arrest you but for the life of me, I am asking you. Do not commit crimes. No vandalism. No any [hostile acts] because the police and the army would just stay in the barracks,” he said.
Ahead of the 45th anniversary of martial law, Duterte on September 9 indicated his plan to declare a same autocrat rule all throughout the country, if the communist rebels create “destruction and trouble” on the streets when they hold demonstrations.
On September 15, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorezana said that enforcement of martial law nationwide was a “very remote” possibility.
"[Declaring martial law nationwide is] very remote to happen. The President is just very concerned that it might get out of hand that's why he said, 'I might declare martial law,'" Lorenzana said.
"But I don't think that the Left will be able to conduct the massive demonstration across the country, disrupting [or] disabling government or the lives of the people. Perhaps, that's not going to happen," he added. (SunStar Philippines)