By Jeffrey Damicog
Those who intend to go out and stage protest rallies on Independence Day, June 12, should no longer proceed, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said on Thursday.
Eleazar said a rally comprising 10 persons at most could be allowed on June 12.
“We can consider that,” he said.
Should there be a larger number of people holding rallies on June 12, Eleazar said they will have to be dispersed.
“Just in case mag-ipon ipon sila, they will be approached by the police para mag-apela, pakiusapan na mag-disperse sila (Just in case they gather, they will be approached by the police and asked to disperse),” the police official said.
Eleazar said government agencies are not spared from quarantine rules and were even issued directives against holding gatherings on June 12.
The directive only allowed a gathering of not more than 10 persons on June 12 and encouraged the public to celebrate Independence Day online.
“We would like to advise yun pong magra-rally to think twice (We would like to advice those who participate in the rallies to think twice),” Eleazar said during an interview over CNN Philippines
“Alam nyo kasi, may pandemic pa rin po tayo ngayon at ang ating pinoproblema diyan ay baka mamaya mapasa sila sa statistics na magkakaroon ng infection (There is still a pandemic and we are worried that those who will participate in the rallies might become part of the statistics of those infected with COVID-19),” he said.
“Pag naka-contract pa sila ng virus na yan, dadalhin pa nila sa kanilang bahay (Once they get infected, they will be bringing the virus to their homes),” he warned.
He said the government continues to implement quarantine rules which include prohibitions against mass gatherings.
“Meron tayong protocol ngayon at sana ito ay kanilang ipagpaliban (We have existing protocols so we advise them to postpone the rallies),” Eleazar said.
“Kung sakali man po na gawin nila iyon (If they will insist on doing it), it is a violation of mass gathering,” he stressed.
Eleazar assured that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will exercise maximum tolerance on the rallyists.
He said that prior to the pandemic, the PNP has been allowing rallies and during the implementation of quarantine rules, 110,000 out of the 190,000 violators were only given warnings and were not arrested and fined.
He said this shows the PNP’s “compassion” and exercise of “maximum tolerance.”
“Pero pag mag-i-insist sila, sabihin natin magre-resist at mag-disobey, ibang usapan na po yun (It will be a different matter if they insist, resist, and disobey our advice to stop the rallies),” he warned.
To the rally leaders and some government officials, Eleazar asked them to set an example.
“We should be a model to our countrymen” he said.
Amid criticisms that more leniency are given to police officials violating quarantine protocols, Eleazar assured “inimbistgahan naman po natin yun (these are being investigated.”