SONA rallies banned -- PNP

DURING tomorrow's 5th State-of-the-Nation-Address of President Duterte all rallies are prohibited in Metro Manila and other areas under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine or General Community Quarantine tomorrow, according to the Philippine National Police which will strictly enforce the ban ordered by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año has ordered the PNP headed by General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and the Joint Task Force COVID Shield under Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar  to instruct their men to  stop jeepneys and buses carrying protesters from the provinces from entering Metro Manila which remains to be the center of COVID-19 in the country.

The directive will be implemented by policemen manning Quarantine Control Points in the National Capital Region Police Office as well as regions directly leading to the metropolis particularly the Police Regional Office 3 in Central Luzon, PRO4-A in Calabarzon region, PRO1 in Ilocos-Pangasinan region, PRO2 in Cagayan Valley and PRO5 in Bicol region.

The DILG chief also ordered all mayors in MECQ and GCQ areas to strictly comply with IATF Resolution No. 57 issued last July 21 which strictly reiterated that mass gatherings such as but not limited to movie screenings, sporting events and other entertainment activities, community assemblies and non-essential work gatherings are prohibited, subject only to very limited exceptions  stated in Section 4, Paragraph 12 of the Omnibus Guidelines on the implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines as amended.

As such, local chief executives in Metro Manila and other areas under MECQ or GCQ and as well as those which reverted back to ECQ such as Cebu City and San Fernando City in La Union province have been directed not to  issue permits for rallies and demonstrations timed for the President’s SONA  in order to further promote the health and safety of the public.

Año ordered all DILG regional directors to monitor and submit to  his office the compliance of LGUs with the IATF directive amid protests from militant and progressive organizations that the order is a violation of the people’s right to assembly and peaceful protest.

Militant groups said they will push through with their planned protest actions on Monday but will observe health protocols such as wearing of face masks and social distancing.

National Capital Region Police Office director

Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas said they will be deploying at least 5,000 policemen to help guard the event at the Batasan Pambansa complex with officers under orders to fully exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with demonstrators.

Sinas stressed that movement of protesters along Commonwealth Avenue would be prohibited and that the rallyists will be given until 12 noon to peacefully disperse.

The official however said that they have been ordered by Gen. Gamboa to allow peaceful gatherings inside the University of the Philippines compound in Quezon City as long as no law will be violated by the protesters.