(UPDATED, SEPTEMBER 19)
President Rodrigo Duterte is suspending classes in all levels of public schools as well as work in government offices for September 21, Thursday.
In a press conference early Tuesday afternoon, Palace spokesperson Ernesto Abella clarified that it will be up to the administrators of private schools and companies to announce suspensions for their respective institutions.
Abella said this is being done to allow people “to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and to seek redress for their grievances against the government, past or present.”
Duterte first mentioned the possibility of declaring September 21 as a no-class day for schools and government offices during an interview with PTV news anchor Erwin Tulfo last September 15:
“This early, I am announcing that I am ordering a holiday para walang masaktan, walang ano kung may demonstration diyan, magkagulo. Walang trabaho ang gobyerno ‘yang araw na ‘yan at ang klase suspended,” Duterte said, as reported by GMA News.
A multi-sectoral group calling itself the “Movement Against Tyranny” is organizing a huge protest at the Luneta Park against Duterte this September 21, coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law declaration nationwide.
The group is composed by civil society organizations, Church groups, student councils, and the like. They plan to protest what they see as the Duterte administration’s steady march to dictatorship.
The protest will happen against the backdrop of the ever-rising number of extrajudicial deaths in connection to the government’s War on Drugs, the decision of the House of Representatives to give the Commission on Human Rights a budget of P1000 for 2018, as well as the impeachment case planned against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who were both appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III.