The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Sunday called on those planning to hold protest rallies during the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on July 25 to listen to his plans for the country and monitor his performance during his term instead.
But the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan immediately rejected the appeal.
In a radio interview, PNP Director for Operations Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon said the voice of the 31 million Filipinos who voted for Marcos during the elections should be respected.
“It will be good for our people to listen to what President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has to say regarding the direction of our country in the next six years. So, I hope our countrymen will no longer rally and just monitor what he will do throughout his term,” e Leon said.
“If any of his plans will not push through, then there may be a legitimate issue. But for the meantime, let us respect the voice of the 31 million Filipinos,” he added.
This proposal was spurned by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., stressing the SONA was an occasion for the public to air their grievances and urge the government to act on their most pressing concerns.
“General de Leon again displays a narrow understanding of how democracy should work. All have the right to be heard, including critics of Mr. Marcos. Those who disagree with Mr. Marcos and are opposed to his policies have the right to protest against the government and demand redress of their grievances,” he said.
“What General de Leon seems to be suggesting is for people to simply stay at home and watch TV like and give up their democratic interests. This will not happen,” Reyes said.
De Leon stressed rallies would still be allowed on the day of the SONA but only in local government unit-permitted areas and freedom parks.
Demonstrations along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City going to Batasang Pambansa, the venue of the SONA, will also be prohibited to avoid traffic, he said.
In response, Reyes told the PNP that it is not them, but the mayor of an LGU that grants permits under the law.
He said Bayan filed an application for a permit on July 15 before the Quezon City LGU to hold a rally along Batasan Road.
“In any case, the people will actively exercise their Constitutional right to peaceful protest despite the repression being imposed by the PNP and the Marcos regime. It is important that the true state of the nation be heard, as a counterpoint to lies and disinformation about the country’s situation,” Reyes said.
The National Capital Region Police Office said Saturday 21,853 policemen would be deployed for the event, up from the previous 15,000-strong security team.
A gun ban will also be imposed in Metro Manila from July 22 to July 27 to secure the SONA, according to the PNP.
Security authorities said the 21,000 plus police include 16,964 organic NCRPO personnel, 1,905 men from PNP support units and 2,974 personnel from coordinating agencies and peacekeeping partners.
Road rerouting plans have also been laid down by the MMDA to pave the way for essential vehicles to freely utilize portions of Commonwealth Avenue, the main thoroughfare leading to the House of Representatives and where zipper lanes would be set up.