Nationwide quake drill postponed
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday announced the postponement of the nationwide earthquake drill scheduled for Sept. 21 after President Rodrigo Duterte declared that day a national day of protest.
The Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill scheduled for Thursday was supposed to be the third this year. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), chaired by Lorenzana, holds quarterly drills to promote earthquake awareness, preparedness and resilience among communities.
Malacañang said the President’s declaration meant a suspension of classes and work in government offices. Government offices and public schools are usually the main venues for the earthquake drills.
The NDRRMC said it was necessary to postpone the drill “to ensure maximum participation” when it would be held at a date still to be set.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Sept. 21, the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, would not be a special holiday. Private offices and schools could decide on their own whether to suspend work and classes on that day, he added.
He said the day was “for people to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and to seek redress [of] their grievances against the government, past or present.”
“The President understands that some people want to vent, and I suppose he also assumes most people want to vent on something … It’s a national day of protest,” Abella told reporters.
Groups critical of the administration, such as the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) and the newly formed #TindigPilipinas, are set to hold protests on Thursday.
Ferdinand Gaite, national president of Courage, a leftwing coalition of government office unions, told the Inquirer that holiday or not his group will join Thursday’s protest rally. —With reports from Leila B. Salaverria and Jaymee T. Gamil
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