PNP urges militant groups to hold rallies online

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
PNP urges militant groups to hold rallies online
People display placards during a rally in front of the commission on elections in Manila on May 10, 2022, to protest against the results of the May 9 presidential election. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. cemented a landslide presidential election victory on May 10, as Filipinos bet on a familiar dynasty to ease rampant poverty -- dismissing warnings the tarnished clan will deepen corruption and weaken democracy.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Since COVID-19 cases are rising ahead of the inauguration of president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on June 30, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is urging militant groups to consider holding their protests online instead of gathering in person.

In an interview yesterday, Col. Jean Fajardo, PNP spokesperson, said activists and their leaders should best consider avoiding mass gatherings which could be super-spreader events for COVID-19.

“They could also explore the option that they can hold an online protest. After all, they did that before,” Fajardo said partly in Filipino, citing protests held online at the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

The OCTA Research Group had reported that the positivity rate of COVID-19 in Metro Manila increased to 5.6 percent on June 22 from only 2.9 percent on June 18.

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

Reyes said it would be a peaceful rally, because all they want is for Marcos Jr. to hear their call for economic relief for the public in light of the rising prices of petroleum and food products.

But with Metro Manila still under Alert Level 1, Fajardo said it would be better for those planning to hold protest actions to just have their activities online as a precaution against COVID-19.

The PNP will deploy around 15,000 of its personnel for Thursday’s oathtaking ceremony.

With 7,000 of them taking security positions in the vicinity of the National Museum where the program is taking place, the rest will be manning different entry points to Metro Manila and other areas of engagement such as the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City and Mendiola Street in Manila where a concert is expected to be held on June 29.

“The PNP’s security preparations are all set. If there would be minor adjustments, they would depend on the situation on the ground on June 30,” Fajardo told the Laging Handa briefing.

Authorities are expecting an invited crowd of about 1,200 to 1,400 VIPs to be seated in front of the National Museum and another 25,000 to 30,000 spectators and supporters of the incoming president.

While the PNP has not received any credible or serious threat, Fajardo said they are not letting their guard down to ensure the safety of Marcos Jr. and all the attendees of the event.

“We continue to coordinate with our intelligence units to make sure that all the raw information that we gather are validated properly, so we could initiate appropriate measures to thwart or disrupt these plotters,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

She also reminded the public that there would be road closures in Manila beginning today at 12:01 a.m., while the gun ban shall take effect starting tomorrow.


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