LOOK: ‘Grand mañanita’ protest on Independence Day
MANILA, Philippines — Protesters could not be silenced by the coronavirus pandemic or warnings from authorities on possible arrest as they held protest rallies on the celebration of the Philippine’s 122nd Independence Day.
Various progressive groups gathered at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City for the “Grand Mañanita” protest, a jab at the May birthday celebration of Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
Sinas’ mañanita which was attended by dozens of police officers, violated the ban on mass gatherings as ordered by quarantine protocols. However, despite this, he was able to keep his post.
Rallyists are expected to hold protests on two main issues: the controversial anti-terror bill which is now only waiting for the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte to be enforced as law, and the government’s supposed lack of sufficient response to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
Among the groups that lead the grand “mañanita” protest include the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy, Movement Against Tyranny, Gabriela Youth, Anakbayan – Albertus Magnus, Kilusang Mayo Uno Metro Manila, Concerned Artists of the Philippines(CAP), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), and Anakpawis Partylist among others.
Rain poured briefly just minutes before the program started at 10 a.m., as tropical depression Butchoy threatens to bring scattered rain and thunderstorms in some parts of the country.
Several protesters also brought party props with them to mimic Sinas’ birthday mañanita.
On the eve of the Independence Day protests, the Department of Justice warned that physical protest rallies are “temporarily banned” during the pandemic because of public health concerns.
“Solely for public health reasons and nothing else, mass gatherings, including protest rallies, are temporarily banned to avoid direct transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters on Thursday.
“Violations may give rise to penal sanctions under existing public health laws, not under criminal laws. As (Interior) Sec. (Eduardo) Año said, there are safer ways to express one’s protest during this period of a public health emergency,” he added.
However, the National Union of People’s Lawyers said the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and the law on mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases do not have provisions allowing the conduct of arrests because of alleged violations of quarantine rules or a prohibition on mass gatherings.
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