NO less than President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military and the police to exercise maximum tolerance towards street marchers and protesters during his third State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
This only shows that with Duterte in Malacañang, the Filipino people, including critics of the administration, can fell sleep at night certain that they can exercise their constitutional right to freedom of expression.
He will deliver his third report to the nation before a joint session of Congress, amid criticisms over rising prices of commodities, policy on the South China Sea and stalled peace negotiations with the communists.
According to the Chief Executive from Davao City, he has introduced many bold changes in the government but he assured the people that they “can still march to the Batasang Pambansa to air their grievances.”
The hard-hitting Duterte might even suspend classes and government work on July 23 (Monday) so that the people can join street marches, rallies and demonstrations.
“Seek redress, shout on the streets. Gusto ko nga magpista kayong lahat (I want you all to feast there),” he said in a speech in Davao City.
In ordering the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military to exercise “maximum tolerance,” President Duterte said “as much as possible I don’t want to see any rifle except your baton and your shield.”
“But I am not asking you to die. Just retreat, retreat and retreat hanggang mahulog kayo sa Pasig River,” he jested.
In the view of many, including professionals, government officials, labor leaders and ordinary citizens, the Duterte administration will not take away the people’s cherished freedoms and democratic rights.
But we are made to believe that concerned government authorities will use all legal means to eliminate illegal drugs, criminality, and graft and corruption in government offices and agencies.