DAVAO CITY, Philippines – There’s no stopping activists from holding protest actions here in time for the 45th year commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law.
Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said they are prepared for a massive protest with thousands expected to join from various provinces in the region.
Duazo said they are disappointed with the unfulfilled promises of the President.
Duterte, who served as city mayor here for more than two decades, has maintained an open line of communication with members of progressive groups. His victory as president was also seen as an opportunity to effect reforms that will favor the marginalized sector.
However, Duazo said Duterte failed to “keep his words.”
“He said he would end labor contractualization, that he would pursue talks with the Communists, and that he would pursue an independent foreign policy. But instead of fulfilling his promises, he is now turning into a dictator and a fascist similar to former President Ferdinand Marcos,” she said.
Duazo said they will not call for Duterte’s ouster or resignation yet. But she said they will challenge the President to lift martial law in Mindanao.
She said martial law has become a license for government forces to trample upon people’s right to dissent. Proof to this are the 47 deaths of activists recorded in the region since President Duterte took into office.
Duterte signed Proclamation No. 319 on Tuesday to declare September 21 as a National Day of Protest.
But Bayan called the President’s action as “trolling” on their campaign against his militarist government.
“The rallies will be peaceful as it is not in the interest of protesters to engage in violence and be used by Duterte as scapegoat to fulfill his Martial Law fantasy,” said Bayan in a statement on Wednesday, September 20.
It added: “The Duterte regime has bullied and pushed the people too far, too long. On September 21, we push back.”
September 21 is the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.
On Thursday last week, September 14 Duterte said he will only assign “a lean” police force to maintain traffic. He said he will allow protesters to occupy all public places. However, he warned them “not to take the law into your own hands.”
He also warned protesters from allowing “red army with arms” in their protests.
But Moro leader Jerome Succor Aba of Suara Bangsamoro said Duterte’s statement is a “mind-conditioning” to prepare the public for the possibility of a nationwide Martial Law.
“He will find another reason to impose Martial Law and to go on with his dictatorship,” he said.
Aba said thousands of Lumad and Moro protesters in Manila are already preparing to join the protests on the 21st.
Meanwhile, Police Senior Investigator Teresita Gaspan, spokesperson of the Davao City Police Office said should a protest action in the city push through, they will exercise “maximum tolerance”.
Gaspan said the police will respect the right to peaceful assembly of the protesters.
“So long as the rally is peaceful, there will be no problem,” she said. (davaotoday.com)