The earthquake drill set for September 21 is not meant to stifle protests against drug-related killings or rallies on the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, a Department of Defense (DND) official said on Monday.
“There is 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],” Romina Marasigan, chief of the Public Affairs of the Office of Civil Defense, said.
Organizers of the September 21 protests who call themselves Movement Against Tyranny have accused the government of sabotaging their planned protest rally by holding a quake drill.
“Yesterday, we received reports that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council is holding a nationwide earthquake drill in the afternoon of September 21, simultaneous with the Luneta rally. We will not be intimidated by such actions. We will not be prevented from exercising our constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly,” the movement said in a statement.
“The Movement Against Tyranny calls on our people to come to the Luneta on September 21 and stand together, in solidarity and in peace, to show our opposition to the state-perpetrated extrajudicial killings and President Duterte’s dangerous drift towards authoritarian rule,” it added.
On September 15, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will not stifle dissent and suspended work and classes on September 21 because of the series of protests set on the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 by then president Ferdinand Marcos.
“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.