PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a “National Day of Protest” on Sept. 21 was not mean to divert public attention from the commemoration of the 45th anniversary of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law, a Malacanang spokesman said on Tuesday.
In a chance interview, Ernesto Abella said Duterte had encouraged groups and individuals to use the day to protest against the government, if they had any grievances they wish to air.
“It’s a public exercise of your rights. I mean, the President understands that some people want to vent and I suppose, he also assumes that most people want to vent on something. It’s a National Venting Day. No, it’s a National Day of Protest,” Abella told reporters.
“I would just assume that the President’s usual stand is he allows people to protest, he allows people to vent actually, you know, to be able to say that… It’s their choice, it’s their prerogative and they can do that.”
“The President has announced September 21, 2017 as a National Day of Protest, a day set aside for people to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and to seek redress for the grievances against the government, past or present,” he added.
This came after Duterte announced that he was considering declaring a “holiday” in anticipation of the massive rallies on Thursday.
The Movement Against Tyranny, a multisectoral group, is planning to hold a rally on Sept. 21 at Luneta Park.
Duterte has also previously spoken out about planners of mass movements, saying he would not hesitate to use force if protesters turned violent. CATHERINE S. VALENTE