Duterte to allow peaceful rally during 3rd Sona
President Rodrigo Duterte said he will allow militant groups to hold protests during his third State of the Nation Address (Sona) as long as the rallies are peaceful.
In a speech on Thursday in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, the President said he is open to protest rallies as these are manifestations of the people’s right to freedom of expression.
“Those conducting demonstrations, that’s freedom of expression. I will allow you. Even those protesting, that’s freedom of expression,” Mr. Duterte stressed.
He made the remarks in an oath-taking ceremony of recently-elected barangay captains in Southern Luzon.
However, the President warned that it won’t be his problem if some protesters run into trouble in the course of their protest rallies.
He pointed out that he has directed the police and military forces in the country to “maintain law and order” even as he allowed his critics to exercise their freedom of expression.
“If you run into trouble, that’s your problem. You pee on my face and you burn effigies, then you will ask for help? That’s your problem,” the President said.
It was in apparent reference to the ploy of Mr. Duterte’s critics to put stickers bearing the President’s face on men’s urinals at the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City.
It was unclear as to whom or which group left the stickers in the men’s urinals.
Militant groups, however, have made it a tradition to burn effigies of government leaders they are critical of, including the President.
“You, from the Left. You burn effigies. During the Sona, you can do that. But don’t ask help from me. I have the police and the military, and I told them to maintain law and order in this country,” Mr. Duterte said.
He added: “I’m also from the Left. Ask the old communists. So do not mess with me because I was like you once.” /jpv
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