Pres. Duterte: Anti-Marcos groups need no permits to protest

DAVAO CITY — Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the police and military to remain in camps as he allowed anti-Marcos groups to protest on the burial of the late dictator Pres. Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayan (LNMB).

Saying his decisions are always guided by the common good and the general welfare of the people, Pres. Duterte said anti-Marcos groups could freely hold their protests even without a rally permit.

He declared all public places open for the protesters, for “as long as they want”.

“They (military) are restricted to be there in their proper places. We shall also keep a lean number of police personnel. Their role shall be limited to traffic enforcement and the basic policy standards. They are prohibited from carrying long firearms,” he said.

In the event of violent actions, Pres. Duterte vowed to assume responsibility, saying, “I will answer for all legal issues there. The purpose is to assure the public peace.”

“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,” he added.

The president made this statement after reports that his return from the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) meet in Peru would be greeted with protests.

As he welcomed protest actions on Marcos’ burial at the heroes’ cemetery, Pres. Duterte said he was willing to step down and relinquish his presidency if groups could answer in the negative his questions, “Was the late Ferdinand Marcos a President?” and “Was he a soldier?”

“Never mind about a hero because we are to document something like that. To document heroism requires history. ‘Di madali ‘yan (That is not easy),” he said in his arrival speech at Davao International Airport on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Pres. Duterte debunked claims over the reported move to get the Marcoses back in Malacañang, saying, “I don’t have anything to put the Marcoses back. I never said it and I will not.”

The President recalled how he could not stop his mother, the late Soledad Duterte, from leading the Yellow Friday protests during Martial Law.

“When my mother was marching down the streets against the Marcos dictatorship, so they say. I was in government and my mother was there on the streets. Sabi ko sa boss ko (I told my boss), ‘Sir, I cannot stop my mother and since I do not want to continue with my services in government, I’ve been here for the last nine years doing trial work everyday. Gusto ko na rin mag-go (I wanted to go) to practice and make a better income for my family,” he said. Lilian Mellejor/