MANILA, Philippines – It’s all systems go for the Movement Against Tyranny protest scheduled on Thursday, September 21, but the thousands expected to attend the event may have to fight for space in the area in Luneta that the park management has allowed the group to use.
The space in Luneta “assigned to the rally is not large enough to safely accommodate the tens of thousands expected to join the activity,” according to the Movement Against Tyranny organizers.
The National Parks Development Committee assigned the group the the Lapu-Lapu monument, which can only accommodate a maximum 5,000 attendees – far too small for the 40,000 people who are expected to join the activity. (READ: What to expect on September 21)
According to Obet De Castro, the head of the mobilization team for Movement Against Tyranny, the attendees will come from different schools, parishes, and other sectors. (READ: LIST: Martial Law 45th anniversary activities, protests)
“Duterte has said all parks are open to be venues of peaceful protests tomorrow and has even declared it a national day of protest. But this is belied by the actions of his officials at the National Parks Development Committee (NDPC) who would like to relegate the rally to an insignificant portion of Luneta,” Movement Against Tyranny said in a statement.
According to the group, the NPDC assigned the bigger area of the “Burnham Green” which can accomodate a crowd of 100,000 to the Lions Club. The event of Lions Club has only 2,000 participants. (READ: Human rights groups: ‘Martial law in entire nation not impossible’)
“The Movement Against Tyranny asserts the constitutional right to free assembly. We strongly suggest that government officials exercise common sense and cooperate with the protest coalition in ensuring a proper venue and peaceful atmosphere on the national day of protest,” the group said.
The limited space designation did little to dampen the spirit of the organizers.
“We intend to proceed with our original plan to hold the rally in Luneta in the big space [which] can accommodate a bigger crowd. All systems go,” De Castro added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, through Proclation No 319, suspended government work and classes in public schools in Metro Manila on Thursday, which he dubbed the day as a “national day of protest” because of protest actions planned for that day. (READ: What Duterte’s proclamation says about Marcos’ Martial Law)
Proclamation 319 recognizes that Marcos’ Martial Law brought about human rights abuses. It also “recognizes the fear and indignation of the people against a repetition and perpetuation of such human rights violations and all other failings of the government.” – Rappler.com