NEVER AGAIN An artist applies finishing touches on giant illustrations of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and President Rodrigo Duterte, in preparation for a huge rally today (Friday). PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ
MALACAÑANG on Thursday told those who want to oust President Rodrigo Duterte to continue dreaming because it would never happen.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. made the statement after anti-Duterte groups said they would stage protests during the commemoration of the 46th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos today, September 21.
In a news conference, Roque said the anti-Duterte protests were something that the government could handle.
“It’s not anything that the State cannot deal with. Dream on to those who want to remove the President,” Roque told reporters.
In various speeches and interviews, Duterte had said destabilization efforts against him and his government would reach its peak by September 21, when the country marks the 46th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, up to October.
The President also claimed that the Liberal Party (LP), the Magdalo group, the Left, and other critics have formed a loose coalition to destabilize his administration. Both the LP and the Magdalo group have denied the alleged connivance to oust the President.
Roque said Duterte had met with representatives from the government’s intelligence agencies but he declined to provide further details.
“It’s a regular intel briefing which unfortunately remains classified,” the Palace official said.
Roque assured the public that maximum tolerance would be observed as usual by the police during the demonstrations today (Friday).
He reiterated that Duterte has always been for free speech.
“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. He said no one could complain that Duterte was “onion-skinned” as the President had allowed people to protest for or against the government.
“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.
Last year, Duterte signed Proclamation 310, which declared September 21, 2017 the National Protest Day to give way to those who wanted to protest against the government.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday urged students to stay out of danger and not join the massive rally set by militant groups.
Mayor Joseph Estrada cancelled classes in Manila Friday because of the rally.
Senior Supt. Benigno Durana, PNP spokesman, said in a news conference it was possible for members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to infiltrate the rally to recruit members and cause trouble.
“This is always the modus operandi of the CPP-NPA-NDF. They will infiltrate a peaceful demonstration or rally and they will try to instigate participants to create trouble and violence because this is a good media copy for them,” he said.
Durana said the PNP would deploy 4,000 police in different areas to ensure peace and order.
Another 1,000 police personnel were reserved and would be on standby at the PNP National Headquarters.
Intelligence operatives will also be deployed to monitor the activities and look for wanted members of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
AND ROY D.R. NARRA