Police commanders are planning to meet with organizers of the planned protest actions for President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27 to discourage them from holding rallies due to the threat of coronavirus infection.
Instead of gathering to hold protest actions, PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said that the rallyists should just air their grievances and share their opinions online, especially in social media which he said are popular today.
“We have always encouraged our local commanders to talk with the groups and we encourage them probably to go online in their protest. Anyway social media have a wide reach so they can always air (their issues there) and probably people will listen to them through social media,” said Gamboa.
Gamboa explained that the PNP under President Duterte has been very tolerant with protest actions before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, he said, violent confrontations between the protesters and the police were no longer the scenario in the past four SONAs.
Now that the Philippines is among those hit with the global pandemic, Gamboa said that it would be for the safety of everybody to just stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and also mass gatherings.
Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Luis Licup, PNP director for Operations, said the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has already prepared some of the security measures based on the scenarios provided by the Presidential Management Staff.
President Duterte is expected to hold his fifth SONA at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
“But we are also asking the commanders to initiate dialogues to avoid protest action because of the current situation,” said Licup.