MANILA, Philippines — The head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) warned groups planning to hold a mass protest on Labor Day that they would violate lockdown protocols if their street rallies would push through.
The warning came as labor groups Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition said, in a statement last Tuesday, that they would move to online protests and localized demonstrations on May 1.
Violation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) would lead to arrests, detention and fines, PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said on Thursday.
“Let me emphasize that the strict enforcement of the ECQ is the State’s fulfillment of its duty to protect the right to life of its people,” Gamboa said.
“Arrests, detention, fines, and other penalties for violating the States ECQ rules are imposed to hold violators accountable,” he added.
Gamboa also stressed that progressive groups should not start mass protests on Labor Day for the sake of public health amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.
“We are aware of plans by militant cause-oriented groups to stage public assembly and mass action in several venues on May 1 in commemoration of labor day,”
“Much as we respect their right to peaceably assemble, out of the exigency of the health crisis situation, we beg to discourage them from pursuing these plans for their own safety and in the best interest of public health,” he added.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield chief, also asked protest groups to instead orient labor groups on the preparation of the new normal in the workplace once the ECQ is lifted.
“Every day, we see news reports and social media posts about how the quarantine affected the life of the ordinary workers and their family because their workplaces were forced to either limit or shut down the business operations,” Eleazar, who is also the deputy chief of PNP operations, said in a separate statement.
“But this is not the time to take matters to the streets, in fact, it could only worsen the situation in terms of the health of our workers. So we appeal to the labor groups to focus their effort in helping the workers what to do and what to expect once the opportunity to work would be available again,” Eleazar added.
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