5,814 guests

Letting off steam

Now that both sides have spoken their minds for or against the Duterte administration, it is time to get back into the groove and move ahead.

Venting outrage and frustration over issues impacting the welfare of citizens is a healthy democratic exercise.

This we support with no equivocation or mental reservation: more free speech, peaceful assembly and marches, and other fundamental civil liberties.

They are a manifestation of an exuberant, rambunctious and vibrant democracy.

And so why where they shouting “Hitler, dictador, tuta!” in yesterday’s rallies and marches?

Isn’t it ironic to hear so much verbal abuse given a nearly limitless democratic space?
    
Thousands of President Duterte's critics and supporters held rival rallies Thursday, taking emotional national debates over his deadly drug war and martial-law threats to the streets.
    
Police in battle gear kept order as at least 8,000 protesters held a series of rallies across Manila, using the 45th anniversary of martial law to warn that Duterte was violent and authoritarian.
    
Supporters of Duterte also turned up in large numbers, reflecting his popularity with many Filipinos who see him as a charismatic, anti-establishment politician who is their best chance to quell crime and corruption.
    
Duterte vowed in last year's election campaign to eradicate illegal drugs in society by killing up to 100,000 traffickers and addicts.
    
Since he assumed office 15 months ago police have reported killing more than 3,800 people in anti-drug operations.
    
The crackdown has triggered wider violence with thousands of other people being murdered in unexplained circumstances that rights groups partly attribute to vigilante death squads.
    
Police said thousands of anti-Duterte protesters later gathered outside Malacañang presidential palace before moving to a Manila park for their final rally, which was attended by some 8,000 people.
    
The protesters were backed by the political opposition and leaders of the Catholic Church.
    
Many of the personalities and institutions in this camp are also identified with the bloodless "People Power" revolution in 1986.
    
A pro-Duterte rally attended by 16,000 people was held in front of a Catholic church just over a kilometre away, while about 3,000 supporters of the president also gathered near the presidential palace, police said.
    
They were entertained by local film and television stars gyrating to raunchy songs on a stage dominated by a large image of Duterte and the words "Let Change Continue", referencing his election campaign slogan "Change is Coming".