By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang finally released President Duterte’s Proclamation No. 319 and Memorandum Circular no. 26 on the National Day of Protest on September 21.
Duterte on Monday announced that he was declaring Thursday as the National Protest Day to give way to those who want to protest against the government. The date marks the 45th anniversary of the late President Marcos’ declaration of martial law.
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 said that he recognizes that there will be protesters on the 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.
“I urge all protesters to act within the bounds of the law, maintain a peaceful conduct of rallies, marches and demonstrations,” Duterte said in his Proclamation.
He urged those who will join the protests to be vigilant of possible infiltrators who may instigate violence in an effort to provoke the law enforcers, and to avoid causing any undue inconvenience to the public.
Duterte 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.
Suspension of work, classes
Based on Memorandum Circular No. 26, signed by Acting Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra, work in government offices, both national and local, is suspended.
Classes in public schools at all levels, including state universities and colleges, are hereby suspended on the same date.
Agencies whose functions involve the delivery of basic and health services, preparedness/response to disasters and calamities, and/or performance of other vital services, are directed to provide stand-by emergency assistance near protest sites and areas of mass action.
These agencies include the Departments of Health and Social Welfare and Development; Bureau of Fire Protection, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; among others.
Meanwhile, suspension of work in private companies and classes in private schools in affected areas has been left to the sound discretion of their respective heads.