Group accuses Duterte of ‘desperately trying to sabotage’ Sept. 21 anti-dictatorship rally

September 18, 2017 - 10:25 AM
Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte
Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — An alliance opposing the government’s alleged fascist measures is accusing the Duterte administration of “trying to desperately sabotage” the planned anti-dictatorship September 21 rally at the Luneta Park, during the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late former President Ferdinand Marcos.

“In an effort to scare rally participants, President Duterte has hinted that armed members of the New People’s Army would join the event and threatened to declare martial law nationwide if the rally turned violent,” the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) led by Sen. Rene Saguisag, former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, Free Legal Assistance Group chairman Jose Manuel Diokno, activist nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan, and University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor Michael Tan.

“He (Duterte) also said he would declare a holiday on the 21st, apparently in order to keep students and employees at home and prevent them from going to Luneta en masse from their schools and workplaces,” MAT said.

Also, the group said it had received reports last Sunday that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council would be holding a nationwide earthquake drill in the afternoon of September 21, simultaneous with the Luneta rally.

“We will not be intimidated by such actions. We will not be prevented from exercising our constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly,” the alliance said.

“The Movement Against Tyranny calls on our people to come to the Luneta on September 21 and stand together, in solidarity and in peace, to show our opposition to the state-perpetrated extrajudicial killings and President Duterte’s dangerous drift towards authoritarian rule,” it said.

“Let this year’s anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of martial law be a drawing of the line against the emergence of a new dictatorship. We shall gather at the Luneta from 4-8pm united in one call: ‘Stop the killings, never again to tyranny and dictatorship,'” the group added.