Duterte eyes no work, school dur­ing Sept 21 protest ral­lies

De­fense chief: Mar­tial law an op­tion if Reds at­tack

Manila Times - - FRONT PAGE - LLANESCA T. PANTI

PRES­I­DENT Ro­drigo Duterte is plan­ning to sus­pend classes and gov­ern­ment work on Septem­ber 21 to give pro­test­ers a “free hand” in com­mem­o­rat­ing the 45th an­niver­sary of the dec­la­ra­tion of Mar­tial Law by the late pres­i­dent Fer­di­nand Mar­cos.

“This early, I am an­nounc­ing that I am or­der­ing a hol­i­day so that no­body will get hurt amid th­ese demon­stra­tions,” Duterte said in a ra­dio in­ter­view with Er­win Tulfo yes­ter­day.

“Gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees need not re­port for work that day. They (pro­test­ers) can oc­cupy all the pub­lic spa­ces avail­able,” said Duterte who also warned com­mu­nist in­sur­gents that he would not hes­i­tate to make a sim­i­lar procla­ma­tion if they would take their re­bel­lion to the streets.

In a sep­a­rate news con­fer­ence, Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana con­firmed the Pres­i­dent’s plan for Septem­ber 21.

“Dur­ing my in­ter­ac­tion with him (Pres­i­dent) this week, he said that in the event of a mas­sive rally in Metro Manila that would in­con­ve­nience the pub­lic, he won’t re­quire peo­ple to go to work. There would be sus­pen­sion of gov­ern­ment work,” Loren­zana said.

“He just wants the pro­test­ers to have a free hand. He did not say what day; maybe it is the 21st, but he will play it by ear,” Loren­zana added.

Mar­tial law ‘re­mote’

At the same time, Loren­zana al- layed pub­lic fears that the Pres­i­dent may de­clare mar­tial law if the com­mu­nist re­bel­lion got out of hand.

“The Pres­i­dent has said it be­fore. If the Left will try to have a mas­sive protest, burn things on the streets, dis­rupt the coun­try, then he might [de­clare mar­tial law]. But as to my es­ti­mates, it is a very re­mote pos­si­bil­ity,” Loren­zana said.

Loren­zana be­lit­tled the Left’s ca­pa­bil­ity to con­duct “mas­sive demon­stra­tions across the coun­try that would be dis­rupt­ing the civil gov­ern­ment or the lives of the peo­ple.”

“I don’t think that is go­ing to hap­pen,” Loren­zana said.

Peace ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion and the com­mu­nists had hit an­other road­block af­ter their armed wing, the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA), staged a se­ries of at­tacks against gov­ern­ment troops in the prov

The fail­ure of Rafael Mariano and Judy Tagui­walo, Left-lean­ing Cab­i­net mem­bers, to get con re­form and so­cial wel­fare, was per­ceived by the Na­tional Demo­cratic Front of the Philip­pines (NDFP), the po­lit­i­cal wing of the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines (CPP), as a retaliatory act by the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion for the stalled talks.

The Mak­abayan bloc at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives has an­nounced its break­away from the ma­jor­ity fol­low­ing the Mar­i­anoTagui­walo de­ba­cle.

Duterte de­clared mar­tial law in Min­danao last May 23 to sup­press a re­bel­lion from the Maute group, which was seek­ing to es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent state with Is­lamist leader Is­nilon Hapi­lon as its caliph.

Congress ex­tended the procla­ma­tion un­til yearend.

On Sept. 21, 1972, then pres­i­dent Mar­cos de­clared mar­tial law be­cause of the al­leged com­mu­nist threat.

Based on gov­ern­ment records, about 70,000 were ei­ther vic­tims of tor­ture, ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings or en­forced dis­ap­pear­ances.

Mar­cos lifted mar­tial law on Jan. 17, 1981.

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