Don’t join rallies, PNP tells students
Citing intelligence reports that communist rebels will join rallies commemorating the declaration of martial law by dictator Ferdinand Marcos 46 years ago, the Philippine National Police urges students not to take part in today’s demonstrations “for their safety.”
The PNP, nevertheless, will deploy 4,000 officers to secure rally sites around Metro Manila, according to the PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr.
Durana on Thursday said members of the New People’s Army (NPA) “will infiltrate a peaceful demonstration or rally and they will try to instigate participants to create trouble and incite violence.”
“We assume that they (NPA) will always try to create chaos and disturbance and sometimes violence, that’s why we are appealing to the students . . . to refrain from joining these protest rallies for their own safety,” he added.
Youth and student leaders, however, said they would not be intimidated by the PNP warning.
“Why should we stop now when we ourselves can see the hardship of the Filipino masses and when our fellow youth are being killed and stripped of their rights?” said Shara Mae Landicho, spokesperson for Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan.
The University of the Philippines student regent, Ivy Joy Taroma, said there was no need for the NPA to instigate unrest because the people themselves were already “fed up with the dictatorship and tyranny” under President Duterte.
“[The warning] is a desperate attempt of Duterte to sow fear among the youth and the people because in truth, he is the one scared of the power of the people,” she said.
According to Durana, the ultimate goal of the local communist movement is “to bring down the government through violent means to gain political power” but they won’t succeed.
Malacañang on Thursday also dismissed any possible success for groups wanting to overthrown Mr. Duterte.
“It’s not anything that the State cannot deal with. Dream on to those who want to remove the President,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
However, he reminded the authorities to follow the law on maximum tolerance during protests.
“No one can complain that the President is onion-skinned. He recognizes the importance of free speech. So we will give maximum tolerance to everyone because after all, he was not the one who declared martial law on Sept. 21 many years ago,” he said. —WITH REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO AND JHESSET O. ENANO
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