Various groups staged protests, some denouncing President Rodrigo Duterte’s demagoguery but others supporting him.
Pro- and anti-government protesters converged near Malacanang Palace in Manila, with razor wire and the Mendiola Peace Arch standing between them.
Demonstrators in front of the Mendiola Peace Arch called for an end to extrajudicial killings and tyranny, and warned against imposing martial law.
They included members of indigenous communities who came from as far as the northern and southern Philippines.
One protester told Arab News she was there to demand employment, housing and alleviation of poverty.
There were also vendors, who see rallies as an opportunity to earn more money. One of them was Diosdado, 53, who earns on average $4-$6 per day by selling potato fries.
He said although he opposes extrajudicial killings and martial law, he wants Duterte to continue as president.
From the Mendiola Peace Arch, anti-Duterte groups marched to Rizal Park, where they joined demonstrators who had staged similar protests in other parts of Metro Manila.
Activist nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan, one of the figures behind the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), went on stage to urge Filipinos to unite.
Mananzan, who was part of the 1986 People Power Revolution that ended the Marcos’ rule, called for an end to extrajudicial killings, which the government denies carrying out. She also expressed opposition to the revival of authoritarianism.
Ironically, Duterte declared Sept. 21 a National Day of Protest. The proclamation is in solidarity with popular calls against government excesses and shortcomings, and in support of the highest standards of integrity, efficiency and accountability in government. The proclamation acknowledged freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly.