MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte's Proclamation No 319 told protesters holding mass actions on Thursday, September 21, to be on the lookout for "instigators" who might spark violence during rallies scheduled on that day.
The proclamation, released on Wednesday, September 20, asks protesters "to be vigilant of possible infiltrators who may instigate violence in an effort to provoke police and other law enforcement authorities."
It also asked protesters to "maintain peaceful conduct" of rallies and to act within the bounds of the law. Police and other law enforcers to observe maximum restraint and to stay far from the mass demonstrations to allow protesters to exercise their rights.
This message echoed public remarks by Duterte in recent days in which he warned armed groups might join September 21 rallies.
If these rallies become violent, he threatened to declare martial law nationwide.
Last September 9, he said, "Do not commit the mistake of staging a rebellion. Iyong sabihin mo na (If you say) there’s fighting on the streets. I will not hesitate to impose martial law all throughout the country and order the arrest of everybody."
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, however, said on Monday that there is a "remote possibility" of Duterte declaring martial law in the next few days.
The defense chief said this is because it is unlikely that communists have the capability to stage a nationwide violent action any time soon. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.