MANILA - Principle, not political color, will unite thousands of demonstrators who will take to the streets on Thursday's "National Day of Protest," a convener said.
The protesters are set to converge at the Luneta Park in Manila for a program organized by the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) to condemn the spate of drug-related killings and mark the 45th anniversary of president Ferdinand Marcos' martial law declaration.
Those joining the mass action -- "red" left-leaning activists, "yellow" administration critics, members of the academe, indigenous groups, labor organizations and religious leaders -- have different political leanings, said MAT co-convener Michael Tan.
"Itong mobilization natin ngayong hapon, iba't iba nga ang sektor dito. I don't why they are bringing in iyung kulay," said Tan, chancellor of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, in a DZMM interview.
"Mayroon din ang mga dilaw so-called, mayroon din ang mga pula so-called. As far as I am concerned, base naman ito sa prinsipyo."
DISTURBING SIGNS, COLD-BLOODED KILLINGS
Tan said he joined the protest out of sympathy for young people killed amid the government's war on drugs, including 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos, a former UP student.
"I never thought that at the age of 65, kailangan pa akong magmartsa... Hindi ko matiis na nakikita ko ang mga kabataan -- including isang dating estudyante ng UP Diliman -- na pinapatay, killed in cold blood," he said.
His generation, he added, is duty-bound to help the country remember the atrocities under martial law, including killings and forced disappearances, which are now seeing a repeat.
"Andito kami para hindi makakalimutan ang nakaraan, para hindi na maulit. Nakikita na natin na maraming mga disturbing signs -- iyung mga nangyari noong 1970s ay nauulit ngayon. May nawawala, may pinapatay," Tan said.
Tan also rejected the "evil alliance" tag used against the protesters, saying: "I don't see evil in marching and fighting for the rights of people."
About 100,000 people are set to join the Luneta Park rally, MAT co-convener and former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casiño earlier said.
Among those expected at the event, he said, are St. Scholastica's College president Sr. Mary John Mananzan, former senator Rene Saguisag, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez and Dr. Ephraim Fajutagana, Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
Protesters are encouraged to bring bells that they could ring in, timed to the tolling of all church bells in Metro Manila at 8 p.m.