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‘Black Friday’ protests set today

Thousands of activists were expected to join today’s “Black Friday” protests to denounce the burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Manila’s heroes’ cemetery, but an unapologetic President Duterte has stood his ground, even as he told the police not to break up mass actions.

Mr. Duterte, speaking in Davao City upon arrival from Peru and New Zealand late Wednesday, dared the protesters to disprove that Marcos, a former president and a soldier, did not deserve a military burial complete with a 21-gun salute.

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He said he would be happy to resign if they could answer two key questions to his satisfaction: “Was the late Ferdinand Marcos a President and was he a soldier?”

He denied he was leading moves to revive the political fortunes of the Marcos family, and said he even wanted to widen the powers of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, a body tasked to recover wealth stolen by the late  leader and his cronies. He did not explain.

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Mr. Duterte has made no secret of his ties with the Marcos family, and even claimed that Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos bankrolled his presidential campaign. He also publicly backed the electoral protest of losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The burial last week, as Mr. Duterte was attending a summit of Asia Pacific leaders in Peru,  stoked widespread anger from  those who suffered under 20 years of Marcos’ brutal regime.

Supreme Court surprise

The Supreme Court had earlier ruled against their petition to stop the burial, but the stealth and speed by which it was carried out caught many by surprise.

Spontaneous street protests erupted in key cities, including those led by the Left, many of whom were caught in a bind because of their ideological ties to the President.

But the President said it was immaterial to debate whether Marcos was a hero, because “to document heroism requires history. That’s not easy.”

Mr. Duterte said protesters could stay on the streets as long as they wanted, even without permits. While police would not totally be absent, they would only be restricted to managing traffic.

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“To paraphrase what was said: I may not agree with what you say but I will protect your right to say it. That is our  democracy. As your President, you have my word and you have that commitment,” President Duterte said.

A new alliance, spearheaded by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines, was launched on Thursday to unite members of the education sector against “historical revisionism” and the “rehabilitation” of the Marcoses.

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TAGS: “Black Friday” protest, Black Friday, Davao City, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Ferdinand Marcos, Manila Heroes’ Cemetery, President Duterte, Rodrigo Duterte
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