MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has formally declared Thursday, September 21, as National Day of Protest, following earlier announcements he made last Monday.

In Proclamation No. 319 signed by the President on Tuesday but was only released by Malacañang Wednesday, the President said he declared a National Day of Protest on the said date “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.”

September 21 marks the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late President Ferdinand Marcos and various groups have announced to stage massive demonstrations on this date.

In declaring a National Day of Protest, Duterte noted how the Marcos Martial Law era that began in 1972 has imprinted itself in the collective memory of the people as a time attended by the commission of gross human rights violations, arbitrary state interventions, rampant corruption, and disregard of fundamental civic liberties.

“This Administration recognizes the fear and indignation of the people against a repetition and perpetuation of such human rights violations and all other failings of government,” he said.
As for the rallies slated on Thursday, Proclamation No. 319 stated that the Constitution guarantees the people’s freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly as well as to petition the government for redress of grievances.

In view of this, Duterte has directed all police and other law enforcement authorities to observe maximum restraint and maintain necessary distance from mass actions to allow the protesters to exercise their rights.

Furthermore, he also directed all local government units to dispense with the permit requirements for holding public assemblies, marches and demonstrations in areas within their jurisdiction during the said day.

On the other hand, Duterte called on the protesters not to commit illegal acts during the day of protest.

“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. (PNA)