THE September 21 earthquake drill is not meant to stifle protests against the extrajudicial killings to mark the anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late president Ferdinand Marcos, a defense official said on Monday.
Romina Marasigan, chief of the Public Affairs of the Office of Civil Defense under the Department of National Defense, said that Sept. 21 date was based on the availability of the pilot areas where the drills would be held.
“There are no politics involved here. We do this regularly, on a quarterly basis. We have been doing this for the last 10 years based on the availability of the pilot areas [where we are conducting the drill],” Marasigan told reporters in a chance interview.
“This is for ensuring the safety of the public because we can’t stop a strong earthquake from hitting Metro Manila or any part of the country,” Marasigan added.
Last September 15, President Rodrigo Duterte assured the public that he would not stifle dissent in his administration and was even looking forward to suspending classes and government work on Sept. 21, the 45th anniversary of Marcos’ Proclamation 1081.
“This early, I am announcing that I am ordering a holiday so that nobody will get hurt amid these demonstrations,” Duterte said in a radio interview with broadcaster Erwin Tulfo.
“Government employees need not to report to work that day. They (protesters) can occupy all the public spaces available,” Duterte added.
At least 7,000 suspected drug dependents were killed since the administration launched its anti-drug war last July 2016, according to human rights advocates. Authorities are claiming, however, that there were only 3,000.
Based on government records, there were at least 70,000 victims of either torture, extrajudicial killings, or enforced disappearances under Marcos’ martial rule. LLANESCA T. PANTI