MANILA, Philippines – Close to 100,000 people have joined the “Million People March” at the Rizal Park before noon Monday, police said.
Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo Jr., National Capital Region Police Office director, said that as of 11 a.m., the number of participants was estimated between 80,000 and 100,000.
The “Million People March,” which started as an online campaign against the pork barrel system, sought to gather a million people at the park.
Earlier in the day, Police Superintendent Mannan Muarip, Special Task Group commander, said he has under his command 57 police officers and over 700 marshals deployed at the eight entrance and exit points of the elevated portion of the grandstand while 36 security personnel were scattered in the vicinity of Rizal Park. The third shield, he said, were manned by 38 others.
“Marshals deployed in entrance and exit points, not police, open the bags for inspection. Police just observe and will be called upon by the marshals if there are problems,” Muarip said in Filipino.
He said a team from Manila Police District’s Explosive and Ordnance Division also scoured the area.
Muarip said a police assistance desk of male and female police officers was set up at the Parade Avenue fronting the Quirino Grandstand.
The National Capital Region Police Office said at least 4,000 police officers were deployed to provide security during the event.
For her part, Juliet Villegas, executive director of the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), reminded participants to maintain cleanliness at the park.
“Each group, each program, so that means each and everyone bringing their own food. It’s just right that every participant should bring their own brown bag for the trash,” Villegas said in Filipino in an interview.
She said the government will be forced to pay for any damage that may result from the rally so “let’s help one another so that the people’s money won’t be used”.
Kenneth Montegrande, NPDC spokesman, on the other hand, said participants were not allowed to burn any protest materials along the perimeter of the Rizal Park, hang or pin them on trees or plant them on the ground.
“It’s also National Heroes’ Day today. Let’s show one another that we can be heroes by cleaning and taking care of our park. Let us all be disciplined,” Montegrande said.