Independence Day: Spotlight on regions

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will lead today’s Independence Day celebration with a flag-raising ceremony in Naga City to highlight the contribution of different regions in the country’s attainment of freedom and democracy.

This developed as critics claimed that the Independence Day celebration in Naga is Aquino’s way of running away from today’s protest rallies against the pork barrel scam.

The Palace, however, was quick to debunk the critics, saying it has been the President’s tradition to visit places that have significantly contributed to the country’s independence.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said last year Aquino celebrated Independence Day at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila; in Malolos, Bulacan in 2012, and in Kawit, Cavite in 2011.

“He’s been moving around to highlight the regions’ contribution in the struggle for independence,” Lacierda said.

After the 7 a.m. flag-raising in Naga City, Aquino will fly back to Manila to lead the vin d’honneur at Malacañang at noon.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte urged protesters to make the rallies peaceful and orderly, as she noted their right to air their grievances.

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay will lead the wreath-laying ceremony at Rizal Park in Manila, as part of the Independence Day celebration.

Binay will be joined by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and members of the city council.

Free MRT, LRT rides

Passengers of the Metro and Light Rail Transits Lines 1 and 2 will be treated to free rides today as part of the celebration of the country’s 116th Independence Day.

Hernado Cabrera, LRT Authority corporate secretary and MRT-LRT spokesman, said the free rides would be available from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“The gates will be open during those time,” Cabrera told The STAR, adding passengers don’t need to present IDs or any other requirement.

Cabrera said that security check would still be conducted for the safety and security of everyone.

Additional pay

Workers who will report for work today will get additional pay, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced yesterday.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the workers would receive double their regular daily pay.

Since June 12 is a regular holiday, Baldoz said, the law requires employers to pay workers who did not report for work and provide additional pay to those who would extend services.

“For work done during the regular holiday, employees will get 200 percent of their regular salary,” she said.

The Labor chief said workers who would render services in excess of eight hours would be paid an additional 30 percent of their hourly rate.

Workers whose rest day is today but are required to work will get an additional 30 percent of their daily rate and another 30 percent for work done in excess of eight hours.

DOLE will hold a job fair at the Rizal Park where over 35,000 local and overseas jobs will be available.

Militant workers, on the other hand, are taking to the streets to call for the prosecution of all personalities involved in the pork barrel scam and for the junking of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chair Elmer Labog is urging the public to join the Independence Day protest actions.

KMU members will gather at Plaza Sta. Cruz and will join other organizations under Bayan in Liwasang Bonifacio before marching to Mendiola.

Red alert

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has been on heightened alert since yesterday to secure the Independence Day celebration.

NCRPO chief Director Carmelo Valmoria said they have not received any report of threats to sabotage the commemoration.

“We are closely monitoring the intelligence community and so far, there is no report coming from the threat groups,” Valmoria said, noting they are ready for any group who may take advantage of the situation.

Aside from protest actions, the NCRPO will deploy security forces in four areas of Metro Manila where flag-raising ceremonies will be simultaneously held.

The NCRPO vowed to observe maximum tolerance in dealing with the protesters.

Manila traffic re-routing

A traffic re-routing scheme will be implemented in Manila today for the Independence Day celebration.

Vehicles that will pass South Drive along Roxas Boulevard going to Rizal Park are advised to turn left on Katigbak Drive and right to Independence Road.

At 6:30 a.m., the north and south lanes of the boulevard and the stretch of South Drive toward Independence Road will be closed.

Motorists coming from northern Manila are advised to turn left to P. Burgos Street, right to T.M. Kalaw, left to M.H. del Pilar and right to Quirino Avenue.- With Rainier Allan Ronda, Dino Balabo, Jose Rodel Clapano, Mayen Jaymalin, Ric Sapnu, Non Alquitran, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ric Sapnu, Charlie Lagasca, Edith Regalado, Aie Balagtas See

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