Duterte eyes gov’t work, class suspensions in NCR on Sept 21

Pia Ranada
Duterte eyes gov’t work, class suspensions in NCR on Sept 21

Malacañan Photo

'This early, I am announcing that I am ordering a holiday para walang masaktan, walang ano kung may demonstration diyan, magkagulo,' says President Rodrigo Duterte, referring to planned protests during the Martial Law anniversary on September 21

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is considering a suspension of government work and classes in Metro Manila on September 21, the 45th anniversary of Martial Law, in anticipation of mass protests to be held by the Left on that day.

“This early, I am announcing that I am ordering a holiday para walang masaktan, walang ano kung may demonstration diyan, magkagulo (so that no one gets hurt if there is a demonstration there and it gets messy),” he said in an interview on state-run PTV on Thursday, September 14.

“Walang trabaho ang gobyerno ‘yang araw na ‘yan at ang klase suspended. At lahat ng public places dito na gusto ninyong i-occupy, kunin ninyo (Government will have no work that day and classes will be suspended. All public places that you want to occupy, take them),” he added. 

The President did not mention a specific date for the “holiday” declaration in connection with anticipated mass protests, but he was apparently referring to the martial law anniversary on September 21, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Responding to questions in a Palace briefing on Friday, September 15, Lorenzana said the President had discussed with him the planned government work and class suspensions – not a holiday declaration – earlier this week.

“During my interaction with him early this week, sinabi niya na pagka magkaroon ng massive rallies sa Metro Manila that will inconvenience the public, I will declare walang papasok sa mga (government) office (he said that if there will be massive rallies in Metro Manila that will inconvenience the public, I will declare no work in government offices),” the defense chief said.

Lorenzana said the President did not mention a particular date but he presumed that this would be on September 21, “since the Left is planning massive demonstrations on September 21.”

‘Burn my effigy’

Some groups had announced their plans to hold protests on September 21, as well as on other days, to denounce the Duterte administration’s supposed bid to declare nationwide martial law, and other administration policies.

As on days when major demonstrations or rallies were expected to be held, Duterte said in his interview that the only cops he wants on the streets are those assigned to ensure the smooth flow of vehicles and people.

The President appealed to the protesters not to vandalize or burn any property as they stage their rally, though they are free to express their anger, even by burning his effigy.

“‘Yung effigy ko sunugin ninyo (Burn my effigy). Make an effigy, ‘yung kamukha ko, maski isang libo (that looks like me, even a thousand),” he said.

Expecting leftists at the protests, Duterte warned they should not bring any weapons. If they do, they will “face the military and the police,” he said.

The President made the announcement on the same day that the Communist Party of the Philippines alleged that the Chief Executive was setting the stage for the declaration of nationwide martial law, based on developments in the House of Representatives which is dominated by his allies. (READ: CPP: ‘Duterte’s plot to declare nationwide martial law underway’)

Malacañang previously declared a holiday for the province of Ilocos Norte to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator who declared martial law in the Philippines on September 21, 1972. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.