By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said he wants the military and the police to exercise maximum tolerance against protesters during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
Duterte made the statement amid ongoing criticisms against his administration and its policies, particularly on the corruption in government, and his remarks against women.
The President, in a speech in Davao City, said the police and military to exercise maximum tolerance and if possible, only carry with them their shields and batons during the SONA.
“I will tell the military and the police, exercise the maximum tolerance, umatras kayo nang umatras, ‘wag ninyo silang salubungin, paatras kayo nang paatras (just keep on retreating and do not meet them),” Duterte said Friday evening.
“But as much as possible, I do not want to see any rifle, anything there except your baton and your shield. And you have to — the sacrifice, duraan ka diyan, pati ‘yung mga foreigners sumasabi ng mura sa inyo, hayaan mo sila (if they spit on you, and the foreigners would curse on you, just let them),” he added.
“But I’m not asking you to die. Just retreat and retreat, and retreat, hanggang mahulog kayo sa (until you fall into the) Pasig River,” he jested.
According to Duterte, he has delivered many changes in the government but said that people, especially women, can still march to the Batasan Pambansa to air their grievances.
“I have done so many changes in our government. But corruption remains to be a problem,” he said.
“And if there are so many wise girls there, women, and itong mga opposition na mag-rally (and those from the opposition who would rally), of course you can go to rallies. Air your grievance. That is a constitutional guarantee,” he added.
“Do not be afraid. ‘Yung anti-Duterte, lahat ng pari, bishop. Ah, lahat kayo, sige (The anti-Duterte, the priests, bishop. All of you can go),” he continued.
Duterte also said that he might suspend classes and government work again like he did on September 21, 2018 to allow the people to go to the streets and protest.
“Seek redress, shout on the streets. Gusto ko nga magpista kayong lahat (I want you all to feast there). I will declare the next two days as bakasyon (vacation) time so that all the people can go there during the SONA address at mag-demonstrate kayo doon (and demonstrate there),” he said.
Last year, Duterte ordered the police to exercise maximum tolerance as groups of people announced to hold demonstration rallies in time for the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late President Marcos.
Following Duterte’s order, Malacañang the President’s Proclamation No. 319 declaring the National Day of Protest on September 21, 2017.
In his proclamation, Duterte 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.”
He, however, said that protesters should act within the bounds of the law; maintain a peaceful conduct of rallies, marches and demonstrations; and remain vigilant of possible infiltrators who may instigate violence.