At the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, a 34-year-old pregnant woman attends an afternoon mass, part of the activities set up to mark the 45th year since the declaration of martial law. She claims her sister Heart, a transwoman, was the first member of the LGBTQ community to die in the hands of the Navotas police.

A University of the Philippines student joins protesters in Luneta to continue the fight of his parents. His parents, he says, were once at the frontlines of the Diliman Commune, a historic student-led uprising during the Marcos years.

Tied to Jeckree Mission's backpack are several red-stained balloons, symbolizing the blood of victims of summary killings under the Duterte administration.

Best friends Cresaldo, 9, and Edrizza, 10, join the crowds in Luneta, holding signs calling for an end to job contractualization.

A band called Punk Magalona performs the song “Undas” before a small audience in Luneta. Vocalist Ose Martija says the song’s line, “Binoto siya at sinasamba (They voted for him, and worship him)” is for fanatical Duterte supporters.

A gay man born in 1971, a year before Marcos declared martial law, cosplays the famous horror film character “Sadako,” and puns on the name to express his sadness amid the rampant summary killings.

Three locals from Davao City stand up against Duterte, who was former mayor of the city. They say they’re fed up with the killings in the war on drugs, and the president’s one-man decisions which they say are telling of a dictatorship.

Alex Sibayan, a lumad from Cagayan Valley, decries military aggression in their ancestral lands. The Agta native begs the government for “kaunting awa, kaunting tingin, kaunting pang-uunawa, kaunting pagmamahal (a little more compassion, attention, understanding and love).”

Former President Benigno Aquino III, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Senators Franklin Drilon, Kiko Pangilinan and Bam Aquino, attend the “Misa Para sa Katarungan (Mass for Justice)” at the UP Diliman Church. They later join the gathering at the Commission on Human Rights.

A statue of Commission on Human Rights founding chair Jose Diokno is unveiled at the CHR premises in Quezon City.

PHOTOS: Thousands join national day of protest

Thousands joined the national day of protest Sept. 21 to mark the 45th year since the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law.

They also called for an end to what they say are signals of the return of a dictatorship under the current Rodrigo Duterte administration

Some 30,000 protesters gathered in Luneta in Manila, while a separate rally at the Commission on Human Rights premises in Quezon City also drew crowds, including former President Benigno Aquino III.

Here are some photos. — Maria Feona Imperial and Arianne Christian Tapao in Manila; Mario Ignacio IV in Quezon City


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About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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