MANILA — The public should stay home and move Independence Day protests online to observe social distancing requirements during the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippine National Police said Friday.
Gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned to prevent the spread of the disease that forced global lockdowns, PNP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, said as various groups planned protests including those for the junking of an anti-terrorism bill.
"Manatili na lang po tayo sa ating mga bahay kung tayo ay mag-celebrate," he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
"Maipapahayag pa rin naman natin ang ating mga saloobin, damdamin, mga protesta sa pamamagitan ng paggamit ng internet o kaya ng mga social media. Hindi pa natin mailalagay sa panganib ang ating mga sarili gayundin ang ating mga pamilya at ang publiko," he added.
(Let's just stay home if we will celebrate Independence Day. We can still express our sentiments, feelings, protests through the internet or social media. That way, we will also avoid putting ourselves, our families, the public in danger.)
Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan earlier urged protesters to call their gatherings "mañanita", a reference to the pre-dawn birthday serenade last month for Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas that allegedly violated the ban on mass gatherings.
The PNP will "exercise maximum tolerance" and ask June 12 protesters to "disperse peacefully," said Banac.
"'Pag hindi pa rin po nangyari ito, pinapaubaya na natin sa mga police commanders natin ang mga susunod na aksyon. Ayaw naman po nating aabot pa ulit sa mga pag-aresto at paninita," he said.
(Otherwise, we will leave the next steps up to our police commanders. We don't want this to lead again to arrests and warnings.)
Police arrested 8 people at a protest against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 at the University of the Philippines-Cebu last week, and 6 jeepney drivers at a separate rally for government aid in Caloocan City.