Duterte to join ‘Day of Protest’

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte plans to join today’s “National Day of Protest” he had proclaimed, saying he would rally against the “Yellows” or members of the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party as well as corruption in some government agencies.

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READY FOR PROTESTS Members of the Manila Police Department are given last minute instructions before their deployment to keep the peace during the holding of a huge protest rally at the Rizal Park on Thursday. PHOTO BY JOHN MICAH SEBASTIAN

In a late-night interview aired Tuesday on state-run People’s Television Network, Duterte said he would also protest on the day of mass demonstrations marking the 45th anniversary of Martial Law declared by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972.

“I’d be happy to join those who have sentiments on government, extrajudicial killings, corruption – that’s also my sentiments now – and other government abuses. Then, I’m inviting everybody, including deprived Lumads to come down and join the protests,” the President said.

“That’s why I called it (September 21) National Day of Protest – to give them space and time to enjoy the rights to peacefully assemble, seek redress, and air their grievances. Vent your ire on any place you want – public property and not private,” he added.

The President said he would express his disapproval of “corrupt” government offices supposedly ran by the opposition.

“I will also protest because there are so many ‘yellow’ people who are working in the commission bodies. They are corrupt. Even those on the regulatory board. I will protest because they have a fixed term, there’s a security of tenure. Meaning, you can’t remove them easily,” he said.

Proclamation 319, which Duterte signed on September 19, declared Thursday, September 21, as a National Day of Protest “in solidarity with the people’s call 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 government.”

“I urge all protesters to act within the bounds of the law, maintain a peaceful conduct of rallies, marches and demonstrations, be vigilant of possible infiltrators who may instigate violence in an effort to provoke the police and other law enforcement authorities, and avoid causing undue inconvenience to their fellow citizens,” Duterte said in his order.

“I hereby order all police and other law enforcement authorities to observe maximum restraint and maintain such distance from these assemblies and mass actions as may be necessary to allow protesters the full exercise of their rights within the bounds of the law,” he added.

The Office of the Executive Secretary on Wednesday released a memorandum circular suspending classes in public schools and work in government offices today, September 21.

Malacañang, meanwhile, left it to the “sound discretion” of heads of private companies and schools to decide whether they, too, would call off work and classes.

In a statement, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the memorandum circular covered only the Executive branch and local government units.

Abella said agencies under the Executive branch that deal with basic and vital services or those dealing with disasters and emergencies are ordered to be on standby near protest sites.

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