MANILA - The head of the Metro Manila police disputed Thursday reports that residents from Visayas and Mindanao who were allegedly recruited by administration critics for a massive protest action have been stranded in Luzon ports.
Thousands of protesters are expected to gather at the Luneta Park in Manila late Thursday to mark the 45th anniversary of former President Ferdinand Marcos' martial law declaration.
National police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said Wednesday that authorities were verifying reports that a certain group hired 6 ships to ferry recruited protesters from Visayas and Mindanao.
Director Oscar Albayalde, head of the National Capital Region Police Office, said he has not received reports of any suspicious ship that has arrived at the Batangas port.
"Sabi po ng ating mga report, normal lang naman po ang mga biyahe ng ating mga barko. Ang alam po nating andito na, matagal na, ay mga kapatid nating lumad na andyan sa Quezon City Memorial Circle," Albayalde told ABS-CBN News.
Intelligence reports, he added, only indicated that some activists from Calabarzon and Central Luzon would join the mass action in the capital.
ABS-CBN News also found an online article claiming that Visayas and Mindanao residents were recruited to join the rally had featured a Reuters file photo.
The photo, taken in 2014, shows a man sleeping at the Manila port after ferry trips were cancelled in anticipation of Typhoon Hagupit's onslaught.
Some 600 policemen have been tasked to secure Thursday's protests. They have been prohibited from bringing firearms to the mass actions, on the order of President Rodrigo Duterte, Albayalde said.
The NCRPO has not monitored any security threat against the occasion, but nonetheless raised full alert.
"Ibig sabihin, lahat po ng ating kapulisan, 100 percent dapat present po," Albayalde said.