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President Duterte on Wednesday emphasized that all his decisions – those that he have made and still have to make – are always guided by the common good and the general welfare of the people.
This, as he maintained that he was just following the law in allowing the burial of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB).
The Chief Executive made the statements at a news conference in Davao City after his arrival from his first first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru.
Addressing the controversy over the former strongman’s burial at the LNMB, Duterte posed a challenge to organizers of anti-Marcos rallies as he said:
“I will gladly and happy even to step down and relinquish my post if you can answer in the negative these two key questions: Was the late Ferdinand Marcos a president and was he a soldier?”
“Never mind about a hero. ‘Cause we are to document something like that. To document heroism requires history. ‘Di madali ‘yan,” he added.
“Was Marcos a coward during the war? That is not my business. We cannot tell,” he continued.
The president challenged protest organizers to just answer those two basic questions, adding that he has to decide one way or the other.
“I cannot decide it in favor of the sentiments. Hindi few, marami iyan. But the problem is you are asking me to violate the law,” he further said.
Nonetheless, Duterte stressed that “be it in the foreign affairs or in the domestic front, all actions of the government will be always driven by the desire and to resolve, to advance the national interests.”
And as he assured the safety of those who will join the protest rallies, the President paraphrased a famous line by English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “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.
With that, Duterte said that protest actions shall be allowed in all open public places for as long as they want with no time limit and that protesters will neither need to secure rally permits in fear of being evicted.
“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 added.
When asked to respond to calls for him to stop an alleged effort to get the Marcoses back in Malacañang, Duterte replied:
“I don’t have anything to put the Marcoses back. I never said it and I will not.”
Meanwhile, the police force has been placed on alert as thousands of anti-Marcos rallyists are expected to troop today at the Luneta Park for the so-called “Black Friday” protest. (ELENA L. ABEN)