Change is here: No protests
EXPECT Commonwealth Avenue to look less like a battlefield tomorrow.
With the Left not planning to storm the House of Representatives, authorities are not setting up barricades of freight containers and barbed wire on Commonwealth Avenue, for many years the site of clashes between left-leaning activists and riot police as the President addresses a joint session of Congress.
President Duterte will address Congress for the first time tomorrow afternoon, but as he is a friend of the Left, protesters will not try to march to the doorstep of the House to disrupt his State of the Nation Address or burn his effigy on the road, as they did under his predecessors.
A welcome change: the protest stretch has been extended by 600 meters, so the protesters can march up to St. Peter’s Church, where they can hold their program.
Senior Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the Quezon City Police District, told reporters yesterday that by not hauling containers from the port area in Manila, the Philippine National Police expects to save around P300,000, which can be used for other programs such as the campaign against illegal drugs.
The barbed-wire barricades come at no cost, as these belong to the area police station, Eleazar said.
But there will be security forces there, and no fewer than in previous years, he said.
Fire trucks will be there again, although their water cannon are not expected to be used this time.
Eleazar gave assurance that the security forces would not starve on duty this year, as food would be served on time.
He said the concessions the authorities were giving to the protesters this year were their way of saying they were one with the people in celebrating the Duterte administration’s promise of change.
But they expect the protesters to return the “goodwill” by helping them “ensure a peaceful demonstration,” he said.
No problem, according to the Left.
Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, told the Inquirer in an interview yesterday the protesters welcomed the changes.
He said tomorrow’s movement would be a show of support to the “people’s agenda for change and the upcoming peace talks.”
“We are quite happy with this development under the Duterte administration, which has said it does not want a repeat of the overkill in security preparations by the two previous administrations,” Reyes said, referring to the administrations of Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.
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