Sept 21 protests 'elevated public discourse,' says Malacañang
MANILA, Philippines – While Malacañang declared September 21 a "national day of protest," did it listen to the sentiments expressed by protesters?
"This message was clearly sent across and heard by everyone. I believe people cooperated along that line. And that’s our takeaway," said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Friday, September 22.
Save for a few incidents, Abella believes the rallies "sort of elevated the quality of public discourse in the country."
"Aside from a small group that burnt effigies, it was basically issue-oriented," said President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman.
Effigies of Duterte were among those burned by protesters on Thursday.
The President "acknowledges" the grievances expressed by participants of the rallies.
"The President understands that the people disagreed and that's part of our ongoing story," said Abella.
Many of the protesters called for an end to killings linked to the President's bloody drug war and perceived police impunity.
Yet Abella maintained that the thousands of protesters who made this demand did not challenge Malacañang's belief that a majority of Filipinos support Duterte's drug war.
"The narrative, by the way, is supported by the survey, right? That most people – I think about a high of 82% as of the last [survey] – that most people in general, understand and sympathize with the moves of the government," said Abella.
But asked if Malacañang also gauges public sentiment through major rallies like those of September 21, Duterte's spokesman said, "Of course."
He gave assurances that the government was responding to concerns about the implementation of the anti-illegal drugs campaign, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipinos, a majority of them, poor.
"There’s already been investigations going on, these matters are being looked into," said Abella, adding that the government is not just reactive but "proactive" as well.
But he admitted the process of attaining justice for those unjustly killed in the name of the campaign against drugs is taking some time.
"It’s a little bit slow, of course, considering they are dealing with the bureaucracies, but there is a healthy response to these matters," said Abella.
Thousands joined several rallies all over Metro Manila on Thursday, September 21, to remind Filipinos of Marcos' imposition of martial law and to voice their grievances against some policies of the Duterte government. – Rappler.com