Groups vow to launch more protests vs. Duterte's 'repressive' policies

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 3) — Expect more protests against the "dictatorial and tyrannical" rule of President Rodrigo Duterte, groups said Saturday.

The Metro Manila group of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) said it is preparing for a huge protest on February 25, the anniversary of the People Power Revolution.

The MAT, composed of several activist organizations, is against the recent attacks against critics of the Duterte administration.

"Nakita namin 'yung need na ma-unite lahat ng kababayan natin lalung-lalo na sa may Maynila para ipakita 'yung pagprotesta ng mga mamamayan laban sa repressive policies," MAT Spokesperson Amira Lidasan said.

[Translation: We saw the need for Filipinos, especially those in Manila to unite in protest of the government's repressive policies.]

The MAT specifically condemned the rearrest of National Democratic Front (NDF) consultant Rafael Baylosis on Wednesday for murder charges. The NDF represents rebels in peace talks with the government.

Baylosis was allowed to join the peace talks until these were canceled. He is now facing new charges of illegal possession of explosives, a non-bailable offense. The NDF claimed the evidence was planted.

"Wala naman kinaiba itong arrest ni Rafael Baylosis sa dati nilang style na nagkakarga ng ebidensya para ma-justify ang arrest," said Neri Colmenares, Chairperson of the National Union of People's Lawyers.

[Translation: Rafael Baylosis' arrest is not different from the government's style of planting evidence to justify one's arrest.]

The MAT also hit Duterte for his supposed threat to students of the University of the Philippines (UP) who keep walking out of their classrooms in protest.

"Na-feel ko talaga at galit talaga ako dun sa mga sinasabi ni President Duterte kasi wala pang Presidente na nagsalita laban sa mga estudyante na paalisin sila," Lidasan said.

[Translation: "I was really mad at what the President said because no other President threatened to kick the students out."]

Colmenares accused the President of being "intolerant of dissent."

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend on Saturday, the government is not curtailing anyone's right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

He said Duterte was specifically against the walkouts only because the students would miss their classes.

READ: Palace: Duterte against students missing class, not protests

Duterte, in a speech before indigenous leaders Thursday, said he would let "smart" Lumad students who are not fortunate enough to have access to quality education take the place of students who keep walking out.

The MAT, however, doubts the President's offer to give UP students' slots to Lumad students, amid reports of increased military presence in indigenous communities.