MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of September 21 as “a day of protest” is a “farce” intended to deter what are expected to be massive protests against his administration, an opposition leader at the House of Representatives said.
Duterte’s declaration “virtually elevates the 45th anniversary of the imposition of martial law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to a holiday,” Albay Representativ Edcel Lagman said.
“In the past, declarations of instant holidays were made to dissuade people, particularly students and workers, from staging protest actions, not to encourage them to join rallies and demonstrations,” he noted.
Lagman also said that Duterte’s declaration “is grossly tainted with insincerity because he openly idolizes the dictator Marcos.”
In a separate statement, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the protests will push through on Thursday.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Duterte “can throw in class and work suspensions and even a nationwide earthquake drill and these still won’t change our resolve to hold the nationwide mass protests.”
“He can threaten the people with Martial Law using the Left as scapegoat, like what Marcos did, but it still will not deter the people from gathering in public places to voice their indignation,” he added.
Reyes said protests and gatherings are scheduled in Bicol, Panay, Negros, Cebu, Davao and Hong Kong.
Contingents from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog are also expected to arrive in Manila and link up with the Lakbayan of national minorities who have camped out in Quezon City since the start of September.
Among the activities scheduled for Metro Manila, the group Rise Up for Life and Rights, which campaigns against extrajudicial killings, particularly the thousands that have marked Duterte’s war on drugs, said Caloocan Bishop Pablo David will lead a con-celebrated mass at the San Agustin church in Intramuros while the National Council of Churches in the Philippines will lead an ecumenical prayer-gathering at the Central United Methodist Church on T.M. Kalaw, both at 2 p.m.
A “Wake for Justice and Life” to the Luneta, where the main rally will be held, will follow the religious rites.