Gamboa lauds SONA protesters’ cooperation

Archie Francisco F. Gamboa

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday thanked leaders of various protest groups for heeding their appeal to help them enforce quarantine measures when President Duterte made his 5th State-of-the-Nation-Address on Monday.

The PNP chief particularly welcomed the move of protest organizers and progressive groups to hold alternative forms of expressive activities instead of holding mass gatherings and rallies at the risk of endangering public health.

At the same time, Gen. Gamboa also commended the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas and the Quezon City local government headed by Mayor Joy Belmonte for their preparations and well-coordinated efforts in observing maximum tolerance toward protesters who followed quarantine protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

As per our mandate,  the PNP will enforce laws and protocols for the safety of all,” he said.

The PNP said it monitored about 1,790 rallyists who strictly complied with the set  time limit and peacefully dispersed in areas of University of the Philippines Diliman, Commission on Human Rights’ main gate, Barugo Road in Caloocan City, Plaza Rizal in Naga City in Camarines Sur, Legazpi City in Albay, Freedom Park in Virac, Catanduanes and in Baguio City.

PNP spokesman, Brigadier Gen. Bernard M. Banac, said there was a generally peaceful situation in Metro Manila and the rest of the country on Monday as the PNP went on heightened alert and barred protesters from rallying in the streets during the President’s address to the nation.

Members of the NCRPO and the PNP Highway Patrol Group under Brig. Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz strictly inspected buses and public utility vehicles for possible presence of unauthorized protesters.  Several stops were made including one in Caloocan City where police stopped the drivers of five passenger jeepneys found to be carrying members of Migrante as they attempted to pass by along Sitio Matarik in Barangay 175 in Camarin going to the  UP Diliman campus.

Gen. Gamboa said the order for the police was to stop street protests amid fears it would contribute to the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

The top cop said they have “issued a warning against the holding of mass protests and public assemblies, bearing in mind the need to comply with the rules on social distancing.”

“ With the public’s health primordial in our minds, the PNP will perform its mandate to enforce the law, strictly and in accordance with IATF regulations.’’