PNP: Protests during June 30 inauguration allowed at freedom parks

Tension arose after militant groups tried to go in front of the Commission on Human Rights along Commonwealth Avenue on May 25, 2022 to stage a protest rally and oppose the canvassing of the House of the Representative in Batasan, Quezon City.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:36 p.m.) — The Philippine National Police urged rallyists planning to hold protests during the inauguration of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to hold protests at "proper" venues like freedom parks. 

Speaking in an interview aired over DZBB Super Radyo, Police Maj. Gen. Valeriano De Leon, PNP director for operations, said the PNP has not received reports of gun ban violations but is aware of plans to stage a rally. 

Gun permits suspended

The suspension of gun-carrying privileges in the National Capital Region took effect past midnight on Monday and will remain enforced until July 2, 2022 as part of security measures implemented by the Philippine National Police for the inauguration ceremony.

In a separate statement, Police Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., PNP officer-in-charge, said he approved the suspension of the validity of Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence in Metro Manila to “ensure that the activities will be free from firearm-related incidents and to ensure the safety of the populace."

Danao said that only personnel of the national police, military, and other law enforcement agencies performing official duties in prescribed uniforms will be allowed to carry firearms within Metro Manila from June 27 to July 2, 2022.

The PNP National Headquarters has alerted the National Capital Region Police Office and its five Police Districts to implement the order.

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'Proper place, time'

Meanwhile, police will act to contain protests on the 30th.

"We've been receiving reports that they will stage a rally. There is no problem there; we respect their grievances and issues, but it should be only in a freedom park if they don't have a permit from the local government unit...please do it in the proper place and at the proper time," Police Maj. Gen. De Leon said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"You might unnecessarily disrupt the flow of traffic and the proceedings of the historic event. The [inauguration] traffic rerouting scheme will affect the entire Metro Manila."

To recall, the PNP also cracked down on a protest at the at the Liwasang Diokno at the Commission on Human Rights grounds, which is also a freedom park that requires no permit. Accounts on the ground say the police officers used batons and water cannons on the protesters, and the PNP eventually claimed that rallyists "went too far."

Under Batas Pambansa 880 issued during the Marcos dictatorship, demonstrators and peaceful protesters may only gather without permits at government-designated freedom parks. 

READ: CHR questions use of water cannons vs protesters in freedom park

De Leon said that the inauguration venue would only have two points of entry where the PNP will conduct strict screening protocols. 

He added that backpacks are prohibited inside the museum. If bringing bags is unavoidable, he said, they should be transparent. "We will be confiscating those prohibited items. Let's not try to bring those inside anymore," he said. 

Marcos Jr's inauguration is slated to be held on June 30 at the National Museum of the Philippines. 

The Philippine National Police has said it would deploy 150,000 cops to secure the event, while the Philippine Coast Guard announced earlier that it would also be deploying assets for the event. 

"The PNP shall not interfere with the holding of a public assembly...before conducting any dispersal operation, the PNP shall notify the concerned organizers and leaders of the public assembly," the PNP's revised operational procedures read. 

In a tweet posted Monday afternoon, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes called it "hypocritical and stupid fo the PNP to call on groups to hold online protests instead of physical protests."

"The State has sought to block our very presence online. In case the PNP has forgotten, our websites have been blocked by the [National Telecommunications Commission]," he said. 

Earlier, Reyes said that the progressive group was "prepared to sit down in a dialogue with the PNP and the Manila LGU regarding the June 30 actions" provided "they will respect our rights enshrined in the Constitution."

"Anytime, anywhere, we will be ready to meet them," Reyes said. 

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