MANILA, Philippines - Unlike in previous national holidays, there is no perceived significant security threat when the country commemorates Labor Day tomorrow, a military official said.
“The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has not monitored any significant threat. However, we will maintain vigilance and continue our intelligence gathering and collection efforts to preempt any adverse action by threat groups against our citizens,” AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said in a text message yesterday.
Burgos said the military would continue to share and exchange information with law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of the public.
“The safety, security and well-being of our people will remain of paramount consideration in all our efforts,” he said.
As a security measure, the Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCOM) will place on standby three civil disturbance management (CDM) companies with about 100 soldiers to support the police.
The NCRCOM will also meet with their Philippine National Police (PNP) counterparts today to finalize the security preparations.
The PNP has also sent intelligence units around the metropolis to ensure the safety of those who would participate in Labor Day activities.
According to the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO), it has not received intelligence reports that terrorist groups would incite violence during the protest rally to be held at Mendiola, near Malacañang, in Manila.
Militant groups had earlier bared plans to stage demonstrations tomorrow to criticize the Aquino administration for allegedly failing to improve the lives of workers.
According to reports, militant groups will converge in various areas of Manila, Quezon City and other parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces before marching toward Mendiola to air their grievances against the government.
All systems ready
The PNP is all set for the Labor Day celebration tomorrow with the NCRPO as the primary unit responsible to ensure the safety of workers who would join the celebration.
PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said PNP units have a security plan already laid out for the event, which is expected to be attended by thousands of workers in several areas nationwide, particularly in Metro Manila.
“The NCRPO would be the OPR (office of primary responsibility) to be supported by other PNP units. Our preparations include orientation on observance of human rights of personnel assigned to CDM units,” Cerbo said.
Chief Superintendent Juanito Vaño, NCRPO deputy for operations, said they would be fielding a substantial number of anti-riot policemen in areas where government and militant groups would gather to celebrate the event.
“We expect a peaceful Labor Day celebration because our district directors are expected to have a dialogue with rally leaders today to establish guidelines about their activities,” Vaño said.
He said five police districts with some 200 CDM units were directed to be on standby for immediate deployment when the need arises.
Vaño appealed to militant groups to police their ranks to prevent “anybody from instigating violence.”
Earlier, the Manila Police District (MPD) vowed to observe maximum tolerance in dealing with activists.
MPD director Senior Superintendent Alejandro Gutierrez said at least 300 Manila policemen underwent training in dealing with protesters.
The MPD said “more than enough” police personnel would be deployed in key areas like Liwasang Bonifacio, Mendiola and the United States embassy along Roxas Boulevard.
Extra pay for workers on May 1
Meanwhile, workers nationwide can enjoy another day off or opt for extra pay.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has reminded all employers nationwide to allow their workers to go on a day off or give them double their daily basic pay if they report for work on Labor Day.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said under the law all workers have the option to take a day off on May 1, which is a regular holiday nationwide.
Baldoz said Malacañang has declared May 1 a regular holiday in commemoration of the 110th Labor Day.
She urged all employers to observe the proper pay rules and other general labor standards protecting the rights and welfare of workers.
Baldoz said employers are mandated to pay 200 percent in the first eight hours and an additional 30 percent (based on hourly rate) for work in excess of eight hours.
Those who opt not to report for work will still receive 100 percent of their regular daily rate.
If the holiday falls on the employee’s rest day and is required to work, he would receive 260 percent of his daily rate on the first eight hours, plus 30 percent for work in excess of eight hours.
In observance of Labor Day, DOLE is mounting simultaneous job and livelihood fairs nationwide, while thousands of workers are expected to march to Malacañang to pressure the government to grant substantial pay hike.
Warm and humid Labor Day
The state weather bureau advised those who will participate in Labor Day rallies tomorrow to drink lots of water, bring umbrellas and wear light clothing and hats as warm and humid weather will continue to prevail over Luzon, including Metro Manila, this week.
Nathaniel Servando, administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said only Mindanao would experience cloudy weather with rainshowers and thunderstorms due to an active low-pressure area (LPA) spotted at 160 kilometers east of General Santos City as of 2 a.m. yesterday.
“Except for Mindanao which is cloudy with rainshowers and thunderstorms, the rest of the country will generally have good weather,” Servando said in a text message to The STAR.
PAGASA said the temperature in Metro Manila will range from 25 to 36 degrees Celsius in the next five days.
The warmest weather in the metropolis was recorded at 2 p.m. yesterday at 36.7 degrees Celsius.
Servando said they are closely monitoring the LPA, which has “a potential to develop into a tropical cyclone and affect Mindanao and Palawan.”
PAGASA weather division chief Robert Sawi added that the LPA is also expected to bring rain over some parts of the Visayas this week.
He said afternoon or evening rain showers associated with the warm weather are also likely to prevail over Metro Manila.