Palace calls for peaceful mass protests nationwide

MALACAÑANG on Thursday reminded the protesters who will take part in the National Day of Protest to hold "peaceful" mass demonstrations.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella urged the Filipino people who will be joining the nationwide protests to refrain from causing public inconvenience as they indulge in "healthy exercise of democracy."

Abella reassured that the security personnel would keep their distance from picket to give them leeway to express grievances over policies of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We ask those who would join in today's activities – supporters and critics alike – to maintain peaceful conduct and avoid causing any undue inconvenience," Abella said in a statement.

"Police will observe maximum restraint and maintain distance from the mass action," he added.

Duterte has signed Proclamation 319 on September 19, declaring September 21 as a National Day of Protest.

September 21 is the actual date when former dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial rule and suspended the writ of habeas corpus all throughout the country 45 years ago.

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.

Marcos served the country for 20 years because of martial law, fueling public outrage because of reported human rights violations and supposed massive looting of public funds during his regime.

Duterte has allowed the public to carry out demonstrations as he acknowledged their fears that the abuses during Marcos' 20-year rule might "repeat and perpetuate."

"The martial law era that began with the promulgation of Proclamation No. 1081 (s. 1972) has imprinted itself in the collective memory of the people as a time attended by the commission of gross human rights violations, arbitrary state interventions, rampant corruption, and disregard of fundamental civil liberties," Duterte said.

"This administration recognizes the fear and indignation of the people against a repetition and perpetuation of such human rights violations and all other failings of the government," he added.

The Chief Executive has said National Day of Protest was promulgated to recognize Filipinos' "call against all excesses and shortcomings of the government" and their "desire to uphold the highest standards of integrity, efficiency, and accountability in government."

Malacañang has also inked Memorandum Circular 26 to suspend office work in the executive department and classes in public schools in all levels, in anticipation of the nationwide protest on September 21.

Abella said the public would be given the freedom to vent their frustrations against the government.

"Today, September 21, the nation observes its first National Day of Protest, when people from all walks of life and persuasion can freely hold marches, demonstrations, public assemblies, and all forms of mass action to express their grievances against perceived or actual excesses and/or shortcomings of the government," Abella said.

"This is also an opportune time for those in the government to hear the voice of the governed as part of our efforts to uphold the highest standards of good governance. The event is a healthy exercise of democracy," he added. (SunStar Philippines)
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