Groups protesting President Rodrigo Duterte’s threats of declaring a revolutionary government were blocked from marching to Mendiola by police, Thursday, Nov. 30, on the 154th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio.
The protesters were unfazed by heavy rain as they marched from Liwasang Bonifacio, warning of a “return of the Martial Law era” following the government’s crackdown on activists due to the collapse of the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
Riot police formed a barricade along the Recto Ave.— Loyola St. intersection, to prevent the militant groups from reaching Mendiola, where supporters of the revolutionary government held their own program.
“Alam [ng pulisya] ang kakayahan ng mamamayan kaya ngayon pa lang ay pinipigilan na nito [ang] ating paglaban,” Aerish Gonzales, former chairperson of Anakbayan UST, said in an online interview with TomasinoWeb.
She added: “Mahalagang alalahanin ang diwang makabayan at rebolusyonaryo ng mga Pilipino. Inspirasyon ng mamamayan ang Rebolusyong 1896 sa pakikibaka laban sa pandarahas, pang-aapi at pagsasamantala.”
A brief standoff ensued between the police and the protesters as police sprayed water cannons to protesters attempting to push and break the barricade.
Despite initial resistance, the protesters proceeded with their program along Recto Ave., ending it around 5 p.m. Police estimate around 2,500 protesters joined the march from Liwasang Bonifacio to Mendiola.
Meanwhile, groups demanding the declaration of a revolutionary government and the shift to federalism started flocking to Mendiola in buses as early as 9 a.m., blocking motorists and even pedestrians from entering the area.
They started their program past noon and continued until evening. Food vans bearing the logo of “Duterte’s Kitchen” continuously served free food to the crowd.
Julius Celis of the Anti-Communist Movement expressed his support for the declaration of a nationwide martial law as he dismissed the protest of the militant groups as “destabilization.”
“Manggulo na sila kung manggulo, hindi kami papayag na makalusot sila dito […] Sila lang ba ang may karapatang magprotesta?” Celis said.
He was accompanied by Danny Pareña from the Council of Patriotic Forces, who likewise supported the cause “para mawala na rin ang korapsyon at droga at [para] mapaunlad na rin ang Pilipinas.”
The pro-revolutionary government crowd peaked at 5,000 by 6 p.m. according to police.
Last October, Duterte threatened to declare a revolutionary government if his opponents plotted to topple him from power. On Nov. 21, however, he denied his plans, saying that the country would not benefit from it.
Corazon Aquino was the last president to exercise revolutionary powers, briefly declaring a revolutionary government in 1986 in order to abolish the 1973 Constitution of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and enact a new one. — A. Ortega, with reports from P. Jamilla