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Heavy traffic seen due to road closures

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Heavy traffic seen due to road closures
Several roads, according to the Manila city government public information office, will be closed from 3 a.m. to noon for the Nilad Float Festival.
Edd Gumban / File

MANILA, Philippines — Motorists should expect heavy traffic in Manila due to road closures this weekend for the celebration of Manila Day as well as the preparations for president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s inauguration.

Several roads, according to the Manila city government public information office, will be closed from 3 a.m. to noon for the Nilad Float Festival.

These include the northbound lane of Antonio Villegas street from Taft Avenue to Dr. Basa street; southbound lane of Antonio Villegas street from Dr. Basa street to Taft Avenue, and the stretch of Cecilia Muñoz street from Antonio Villegas street to Taft Avenue.

Malacañang has declared a special non-working holiday today in Manila, which is commemorating its 451st founding anniversary.

Wilson Chan, Manila traffic and parking bureau chief of operations, also said in a dzMM interview that the roads around the National Museum of Fine Arts—Padre Burgos Avenue, Finance Road and Orosa Street—would be closed starting June 26 as part of preparations for the inauguration of Marcos on June 30.

“We are asking for patience from motorists,” Chan said in Filipino, as he noted the rehearsals for the inaugural rites by the Philippine National Police and the Presidential Security Group.

Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, PNP Directorate for Operations chief, has however given assurance that authorities would come up with the best rerouting plan to ease the inconvenience of motorists and commuters.

He said the PNP would release a traffic rerouting plan that includes alternate roads and to ensure that motorists would have enough time to plan their travel.

Marcos Jr., the only son and namesake of the late dictator, chose the National Museum of Fine Arts as his inaugural venue. Former presidents Manuel Quezon, Jose Laurel and Manuel Roxas were also sworn into office at the historic building, which served as the old legislative building.

Task Force Manila Shield

The PNP has started coordinating with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Manila City government for the implementation of traffic rerouting schemes near the museum.

De Leon said they would activate Task Force Manila Shield on June 28, or two days before Marcos takes his oath as the country’s next president at the National Museum.

“I think the NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) is going to implement strict checkpoints,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Tactical Survival and Arms expo at a mall in Mandaluyong City yesterday.

Once the task force is activated, the police would conduct security operations to address various threats, including reports that some cause-oriented groups from the provinces will mobilize members toward Metro Manila to disrupt the inauguration.

De Leon warned that rallies outside of designated freedom parks are considered illegal if organizers did not secure permits from local government units and will be dispersed.

Maj. Gen. Felipe Natividad, NCRPO chief, said the Metro Manila police would be beefing up its security and safety operations for the event.

“Our police are ready to provide security and maintain calm and order at the upcoming inauguration of our new president. Whatever these leftist groups are planning, we will make sure that it does not affect the program,” he said.

Natividad’s statement came after the Department of the Interior and Local Government tapped various law enforcement agencies to secure the inauguration following a supposed revelation of former New People’s Army rebels of a plan by the Communist Party of the Philippines to embarrass or discredit the incoming administration.

In anticipation of the alleged disruption attempts, Natividad said over 15,000 members of the Joint Task Force-NCR, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, MMDA, Department of Health and force multipliers would be deployed in different areas during the inauguration.

Natividad said “sufficient contingents” would be placed on standby, as well as increased police visibility and patrol operations around the National Museum.

“The NCRPO berates this attempt of the leftist organizations to taint the peace and order in the incoming inauguration. We will provide all the necessary security and safety operations to ensure the successful conduct of the said occasion,” he said as he asked the public for cooperation.

“I also ask for the cooperation of the public. Do not be fooled or swayed by what these groups say if they are encouraging you to join the alleged riot,” he added.

In Central Luzon, the regional PNP is also strengthening its anti-terrorism measures to counter any attempt at disrupting the inaugural rites.

Brig. Gen. Mathew Baccay, Region 3 police director, said the police force in Central Luzon is continuously conducting intelligence monitoring and gathering to ensure preparedness for the June 30 event.

Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said several cause-oriented groups will hold a rally at Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila starting 9 a.m. on June 30.

Reyes warned the police they risk facing charges for violating constitutionally guaranteed civil and political rights if they would interfere with their demonstrations at the Liwasang Bonifacio, which is a designated freedom park.

He gave assurance that they would hold only a peaceful rally, saying they only want Marcos to hear their call for economic relief for the public, which includes higher wages, decent jobs and revival of the agriculture sector, in light of the rising prices for oil and food products. – Emmanuel Tupas, Neil Jayson Servallos, Ramon Lazaro

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