President Rodrigo Duterte wants to declare the two days preceding his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) as a holiday so his critics can gather to protest.
In a speech in Davao City Friday (July 6), Duterte said people are free to air their grievance against him.
“Gusto ko nga magpista kayong lahat. I will declare the next two days as bakasyon time. So that all the people can go there during the SONA address at mag-demonstrate kayo doon,” he said at the celebration of the National Science and Technology Week.
Duterte ordered the police and military to exercise maximum tolerance against the protesters, saying he does not want them to use guns during the rallies.
“As much as possible, I do not want to see any rifle, anything there except your baton and your shield. And you have to — the sacrifice, duraan ka diyan, pati ‘yung mga foreigners sumasabi ng mura sa inyo, hayaan mo sila,” he said.
Duterte will deliver his third SONA before a joint session of Congress on July 23.
It’s unknown if the President is serious about his plan for a two-day pre-SONA holiday. However, the day of the address has often been declared a holiday in Quezon City due to the traffic jams caused by the protests.