Maximum tolerance for anti-Duterte protesters on Sept. 21

Published September 20, 2018, 2:54 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang assured that maximum tolerance will be observed as usual by the police during the demonstrations which are reported to be staged by anti-Duterte groups on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the assurance as sectoral groups said they will stage protests in various parts of Manila in commemoration of the 46th anniversary of former President Marcos’s declaration of martial law on September 21.

In his Thursday Palace press briefing, Roque said that Duterte has always been for free speech.

“Maximum tolerance po palagi ang nakasaad sa batas at ‘yan naman po ang sinusunod ni Presidente (It’s always been to observe maximum tolerance since it’s the law and that is what the President has been following) whether or not there is a law, but more so since there is a law,” Roque said.

According to the Palace official, no one can complain that Duterte is onion-skinned as the President has always allowed people to protest whether it is for or against the government.

“Hinahayaan niya, kinikilala niya ang importansya ng malayang pananalita (He lets them do it, he recognizes the importance of free speech),” Roque said.

“So we will give maximum tolerance to everyone because after all, the President was not the one who declared martial law in September 21 many years ago,” he added.

According to Roque, the anti-Duterte protests are not really something that the government cannot handle. He also said that those who want to oust the President can continue dreaming as it will never happen.

“It’s not anything that the State cannot deal with. Dream on to those who want to remove the President,” he said.

Duterte had earlier warned of an ouster plot slated for September 21. He said that the information came from sympathetic foreign governments.

Last year, President Duterte signed Proclamation No. 310 which declared September 21, 2017 the National Protest Day to give way to those who want to protest against the government.

The President, in his Proclamation, said he made the declaration “in solidarity with the people’s calls against all excesses and shortcomings of the government, and with the people’s desire to uphold the highest standards of integrity, efficiency, and accountability in the government.”

Duterte also said that he recognizes that there will be protesters on the said date because of the people’s fear and indignation against a repetition and perpetuation of human rights violations and other failings of the government during Marcos’ martial law.

Duterte also ordered the authorities to allow protesters to exercise their freedom of speech and right to peaceably assemble, as well as to petition the government of redress of grievances.

“I hereby order all police and other law enforcement authorities to observe maximum restraint and maintain such distance from these assemblies and mass actions as may be necessary to allow protesters the full exercise of their rights within the bounds of the law,” he said.

“I enjoin all local government units to dispense with the permit requirements for holding public assemblies, marches, and demonstrations in areas within their jurisdiction during this National Day of Protest,” he added.

Malacañang had also issued last year Memorandum Circular No. 26 suspended on September 21, 2017 both government work and classes in public schools, including state universities and colleges, across the entire country.