Año warns marching activists to be dispersed; discourages burning of effigies
MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday warned protesters who would march towards freedom parks on Thursday during the inauguration of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos that they would be dispersed.
Año said in a press briefing by the subcommittee tasked to secure Marcos’ inaugural that while authorities would allow protests and programs in freedom parks as part of the people’s free speech, marching along roads is not part of it; thus, such activities will be considered a nuisance.
“Well kasi ano, ang ina-allow natin dito ay peaceful assembly ‘no, at wala nang march ‘yan dapat, do’n na sila sa freedom parks. ‘Pag nagma-march, idi-disperse ng ating kapulisan ‘yan kasi it will be considered a nuisance,” he said.
“Ngayon ‘yong pagsusunog ng effigy, hindi natin ine-encourage ‘yan, may mga violation na rin ng batas ‘yan eh katulad ng Clean Air Act, at ang sabi naman natin peaceful assembly. Importante na ipahayag ninyo ang inyong expression, ‘yong inyong sentiments, at ‘yon naman ang purpose bakit ka pa maggagawa ng ibang mga activities doon?” he asked.
Año assured the police would implement maximum tolerance on demonstrators. But he also said a “reasonable force” could be applied if rally attendees get unruly.
“Ang ating kapulisan ay (may) mandatong magpatupad ng maximum tolerance at ipatupad ang rule of law, at kung kinakailangan ay pwedeng mag-apply ng reasonable force depende sa magiging aksyon ng mga raliyista,” the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief said.
“But please sa ating mga magra-rally, do it peacefully,” he added.
Marcos Jr. will be inaugurated as the 17th President of the country on Thursday, June 30, at the National Museum of Fine Arts along Padre Burgos Avenue in Manila. As a reminder, both the DILG and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have advised protesters that rallies can only be held in freedom parks without a permit from the local government.
There are several freedom parks in the City of Manila. Earlier, Manila Police District (MPD) Director Brig. Gen. Leo Francisco said that freedom parks such as Liwasang Bonifacio can hold at least 5,000 protesters; Plaza Dilao, around 1,000; Plaza Miranda, 500 to 700; and Plaza Moriones, 500.
“We have security deployment on those freedom parks,” Francisco said.
As to where pro-administration rallies would be held, the MPD chief said they could also use freedom parks.
“They can also use the freedom parks, ‘yong freedom parks kasi para sa lahat so they can have their protest there, and the PNP will also secure them,” Francisco added.
The DILG and PNP earlier assured the public that they are 100 percent ready with the security measures needed to maintain peace and order during the inauguration, with over 18,000 personnel from different local government and police offices to be deployed for the event.
Securing Marcos Jr.’s inauguration has been a hot topic after DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya confirmed they have received reports about groups, allegedly from the side of communists, plotting to disrupt the President-elect’s oath-taking.
On Monday, PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. again discouraged protesters from staging rallies on the inauguration of Marcos Jr., even as he claimed they were not out to suppress free speech.
Danao said they are only wary of rallies being used for sowing violence and disorder. He vowed that the PNP would enforce maximum tolerance on protesters.
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