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Duterte may suspend work, classes on Martial Law anniversary

A coalition of groups called “Movement Against Tyranny” recently announced its plan to stage massive demonstrations in Manila on September 21 to protest President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly drug war as well as his “own drift to tyranny and authoritarian rule.” PND/Toto Lozano

MANILA, Philippines -- President Rodrigo Duterte may suspend government work and classes in Metro Manila next week amid plans by several groups to hold massive protests.

“At this early, I am announcing that I am ordering a holiday para walang masaktan, walang ano kung may demonstration diyan, magkagulo.” Duterte said in an interview with news anchor Erwin Tulfo. He did not mention the exact date of the possible holiday.

The Palace will need to issue a proclamation to officially declare a holiday.

“Walang trabaho ang gobyerno ‘yang araw na 'yan at ang klase suspended. At lahat ng public places dito na gusto ninyong i-occupy, kunin ninyo,” Duterte added.

'So rallies will not inconvenience people'

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Friday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed the president’s plan.

The Defense chief also said the date of the holiday could be September 21, the commonly acknowledged anniversary of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law declaration. Proclamation 1081, the declaration of martial law, was actually announced on September 23, 1972 but was backdated to September 21 because of numerology.

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“During my interaction with him early this week, sinabi niya na pagka-magkaroon ng massive rally sa Metro Manila at it might inconvenience the public, para hindi ma-inconvenience, sabi niya, ‘Hindi ko na lang sila papasukin. I will declare walang papasok sa mga opisina,’ Lorenzana recalled.

“Hindi naman niya sinabi kung anong araw but since the Left is threatening to have this massive demonstration on the 21st and siguro baka 21st,” he added.

A coalition of groups called “Movement Against Tyranny” recently announced its plan to stage massive demonstrations in Manila on September 21 to protest Duterte’s deadly drug war as well as his “own drift to tyranny and authoritarian rule.”

Martial law is a very sensitive topic in the Philippines after Marcos, whose presidency was tainted by allegations of human rights abuses, enforced it to prolong his stay in power.

Last year, Duterte, an ally of the political clan, granted the longstanding wish of the Marcos family to bury the strongman’s remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in a surprise ceremony.

He also declared September 11 a "special non-working day" in Ilocos Norte, the Marcos bailiwick, upon the family’s request to mark the ex-leader's 100th birth anniversary.

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