By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) observed a generally “peaceful” and “orderly” conduct of mass protests across the country during the celebration of the country’s 122nd Independence Day on Friday (June 12).
In Metro Manila, a “Grand Mañanita” rally was held at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman in Quezon City, where throng of protesters asked President Duterte to veto the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
The proposed bill seeks to strengthen the country’s counter-terrorism measures, but concerns were raised as to some of its “vague” and “broad” provisions that may supposedly be used to silence government critics.
The Grand Mañanita rally was a reference to the controversial birthday party last month held by Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, regional director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), despite the government’s ban on mass gatherings due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“[The] situation all over the country remains peaceful and orderly with no untoward incident reported as of 12 noon,” Police General Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, told the Manila Bulletin.
He said the police exercised maximum tolerance in dealing with the protesters.
“We thank the public for celebrating Independence Day at home and the protesters for heeding our call to disperse peacefully and go home early,” Banac said.
Aside from the grand rally in UP Diliman, there were also similar protests held in other parts of the country including at De La Salle University in Manila; St. Ignatius village in Quezon City; Santiago City in Isabela province; Baguio City; Legazpi City in Albay; and Metro Colon in Cebu City.
But in Iligan City, at least 14 individuals were reported arrested by the police during a “mañanita protest” near Iligan Medical Center College (IMCC) Rotunda in Barangay Pala-o.
According to Kabataan Partylist in Northern Mindanao, the protesters were nabbed by the police around 10 a.m. while they were holding a program.
“Hindi pa kumpleto ang mga detalye, sapagkat inaresto ang mga nagprotesta kasama ang kumuha ng mga larawan at videos sa mismong mobilisasyon (The details are not complete because among those arrested were the protesters and the ones who took photos and videos of the mobilization),” it said.
‘Honor sacrifice of cops’
Meanwhile, Police Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, PNP chief, urged the public to remember the many sacrifices of police personnel in the continuing fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Tayo ngayon ay sinusubok ng pangkalusugang krisis dulot ng sakit na coronavirus, at muli ay ipinamalas natin sa ating mga kababayan ang kadakilaan ng mga pulis bilang mga frontliners at tagapangalaga ng seguridad at kapayapaan (We are currently being challenged by a health crisis brought by the coronavirus, and again, we showed the people the heroism of our police as frontliners and defenders of security and peace),” Gamboa said in his Independence Day message read by Police Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, deputy chief for administration, in a flag-raising ceremony in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Gamboa urged cops to stay away from all kinds of illegal activities and anomalies as they are the ones who should be enforcing the law.
“Nararapat na patuloy nating gampanan ang tungkulin na ito sa paraan na malinis, marangal, at maipagmamalaki. Iwaksi ang mga ma-anomalyang gawain dahil tayo ang pangunahing kagawaran na nagpapatupad ng batas (It is right that we continue to perform our duties in a way that is clean, honorable and worthy of pride. Reject anomalous deeds because we are the primary department enforcing the law),” he said.
“Ang kagitingan at kadakilaan na ating ipinapakita sa araw-araw nating paglilingkod sa taumbayan na nagdala ng karangalan sa ating ahensya ay hindi kailanman matutumbasan ng anumang materyal na bagay (The courage and heroism we show every day in our service to the public and that has brought honor to our agency will never be equaled by any material thing).
“Ang pagtitiwala at pagpapasalamat sa kanilang Pambansang Kapulisan ang ating pinakamalaking tagumpay (The people’s trust in and gratitude to their National Police is our greatest victory),” he added.