What to expect on September 21

Raisa Serafica

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What to expect on September 21
All activities share the common goals of recalling the 45th anniversary of martial law and condemning dictatorship in all forms

MANILA, Philippines – While there are different groups behind the various rallies scheduled on Thursday, September 21, all activities share common goals: to remember the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law and condemn dictatorship in all forms. 

Organizers are expecting thousands of attendees after President Rodrigo Duterte dubbed the day as a “national day of protest.” Malacañang has suspended government work and classes in public schools.

Aside from the pocket rallies happening around the country, there are two different assembly areas for the protests in Metro Manila: the Commission of Human Rights and Luneta Park. (LIST: Martial Law 45th anniversary activities, protests)

Supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte are also expected to hold a counter-protest in Mendiola near Malacañang.

Here’s what you need to know and expect on September 21.

Commission on Human Rights

All roads lead to human rights, according to the organizers of the “Manlaban para sa Karapatan” protest.

The group is composed of representatives from the Coalition Against the Marcos Burial (CAMB), In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend), and Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa, in collaboration with Tindig Pilipinas represented by Youth Resist. 

“We unite with everyone who is participating in the protest on September 21. For us, this is just a step towards uniting all anti-dictatorship forces in the country,” Josua Mata of KALIPUNAN said.

Their activity starts in two assembly areas at 2 pm: the UP Diliman chapel and the Bantayog ng Bayani.

Both streams will end at the Commission of Human Rights at 6 pm for the concert rally and unveiling of the statue of Jose W. Diokno, a staunch nationalist, human rights advocate, and defender of democracy.

Luneta park

The bigger rally is expected to happen at Luneta Park.

Youth and student groups are expected to hold walkouts in their respective universities and march to Mendiola beginning at 1 pm. 

Joining the protests in Metro Manila are students from the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo De Manila University, De La Salle University, St Scholastica’s College, College of Saint Benilde, Far Eastern University, Philippine Normal University, Technological University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology.

They will march to Luneta by 4 pm to join other sectors in the rally led by the group called “Movement Against Tyranny.” (READ: Important tips for newbies in rallies)

Ang panawagan namin sa publiko ay wear black, bring noisemakers, and bring garbage bags. This is a…very peaceful na rally na masaya pero malinaw ang mensahe: Ayaw namin sa diktadurya at martial law,” said Obet de Castro, the head of the mobilization committee for Movement Against Tyranny.

(This is our appeal to the public: wear black, bring noisemakers, and bring garbage bags. This is a…very peaceful rally that will be fun but it has a clear message: We are against dictatorship and martial law) 

“Movement Against Tyranny” is convened by several human rights advocates and martial law personalities including Mother Mary John Mananzan, former representative Neri Colmenares, Vergel Santos, Bonifacio Ilagan, and lawyer Edre Olalia.

“September 21 is the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. That date takes on an urgent significance this year in the face of President Rodrigo Duterte’s own drift to tyranny and authoritarian rule,” the group said in a statement.


The rest of the country will also be joining the activities through simultaneous protests in select schools.

According to Youth Act Now, there will be protests in UP Baguio, University of the Cordilleras, Saint Louis University, Cagayan State University, Isabela State University in Northern Luzon; UP Pampanga, Nueva Vizcaya State University, Pangasinan State University, and Bulacan State University in Central Luzon; UP Los Baños and Ateneo de Naga University in Southern Luzon; and Palawan State University in Palawan.

Also joining the nationwide protests are students from UP Visayas, Western Visayas State University, Iloilo Science and Technology University, and Central Philippine University in Iloilo; UP Cebu, University of San Carlos, and Cebu Normal University in Cebu; and UP Visayas-Tacloban and UP SHS Palo in Leyte.

Mindanao-based student formations from UP Mindanao, Mindanao State University-Iligan, Assumption College, University of Southeastern Philippines, Holy Trinity College General Santos, Mindanao Polytechnic College, MSU GenSan, Notre Dame of Marbel, and UP SHS Koronadal will also take part in nationwide activity.


According to a social media post of the Interior Undersecretary Emily Padilla, Duterte’s supporters will also hold a peace and unity rally from 10 am to 6 pm in Mendiola.

It will be a show of force and support for the President

The pro-Duterte rally is expected to overlap with the rallies of youth groups organized by the Youth Act Now against Tyranny at Mendiola park. Rappler.com


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Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.