Organizers of the rally at Rizal Park accused the Rodrigo Duterte government of playing dirty in its bid to undermine the protest action today.
In a statement, the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) slammed officials of the National Parks Development Authority (NPDC) for assigning the area around the Lapu-Lapu monument instead of the Burnham Greens in front of Quirino Grandstand as the rally venue.
“Duterte said all parks are open to be venues of peaceful protests (today) and has even declared it a National Day of Protest. But this is belied by the actions of his officials at the NDPC who would like to relegate the rally to an insignificant portion of Luneta,” MAT said.
“The Lapu-Lapu monument is not large enough to safely accommodate the tens of thousands expected to join the Sept 21 protests,” the group added.
As a huge stage was already being erected yesterday on the Burnham Greens, the NPDC told MAT representatives of the Lions Club activity.
“Despite having been informed of our rally, they instead assigned the Burnham Green, which can accommodate a crowd of 100,000, to the Lions Club for an event that has only 2,000 participants,” MAT said.
Lions Club officials told MAT they will abide by the NDPC’s decision.
Meanwhile, pro-Duterte rallies will also be held at the Bonifacio Shrine and Plaza Miranda, in accordance with Duterte’s declaration of a National Day of Protest.
Under Rizal’s gaze
MAT announced its rally against extrajudicial killings and tyranny under Duterte shall instead be held on Roxas Boulevard from Padre Burgos to TM Kalaw avenues.
“We will gather to end the killings and fight tyranny under the gaze of our hero Jose Rizal and with the Philippine flag flying above,” MAT convenor Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB said.
“In the interest of safety, practicality and symbolism, we are gathering at the area in front of the Rizal Monument and Philippine flag. This is where we will exercise our right to free expression and assembly,” Mananzan said.
MAT said the rally shall start at four o’clock and will end at eight in the evening with the simultaneous ringing of church bells and handheld bells and ringtones by the rallyists.
Before the Rizal Park rally, organizers said various groups will hold separate assemblies and events.
At two o’clock at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Caloocan Bishop Virgilio David will lead a Mass for the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings.
An ecumenical prayer gathering will also be held at the United Methodist Church along TM Kalaw to be led by Rev. Dr. Eleazar Fernandez, President of the Union Theological Seminary.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan for its part will lead a march from the University of Santo Tomas to Mendiola at noon before proceeding to Rizal Park. Three thousand participants of the Lakbayan 2017 shall join the march.
Meanwhile, schools along Taft Avenue will gather and hold coordinated marches to Rizal Park at around three o’clock. They will be joined by students and faculty from various Quezon City schools.
Lawyers will assemble at two o’clock in front of the Supreme Court led by the National Union of People’s Lawyers, while lawyers from Makati will hold a caravan led by the Artikulo 3 group.
MAT said rallies will also be held in various parts of Southern Tagalog, Baguio, Ilocos Sur, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Tacloban, Butan and Davao City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)