The chief of the Philippine National Police’s task force against COVID-19 is asking the public to refrain from joining Independence Day protests tomorrow which were organized despite the ongoing pandemic.
Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar told CNN Philippines in an interview today that protestors might become infected if they join any mass gatherings.
“We would like to advise those who plan to join rallies to think twice because there’s a pandemic right now. We’re worried that they might become a statistic and get infected. That’s what we don’t want. If they contract that virus, they might also bring that to their homes [and families],” he said in English and Filipino.
Several groups of protestors have been arrested for the past few weeks because they have broken the government’s ban on mass gatherings. Among those arrested were jeepney drivers in Caloocan City and students of the University of the Philippines in Cebu, all of whom insisted that they practiced social distancing during their protests.
Despite the arrests, however, several activist groups are organizing a massive street protest tomorrow called Grand Mañanita, a pointed insult at Major General Debold Sinas whose birthday celebration drew an undetermined number of police officers. The protest, which will start in Quezon City, aims to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the controversial anti-terror bill which would supposedly violate a number of human rights.
“We understand that they want to express their complaints…But we say that there are other ways to do it, through online [for example] because in truth almost everyone is on social media. If they do that, it’s a violation of mass gathering,” he said.
Eleazar added that even government agencies will avoid any mass gatherings for Independence Day.
“In fact, government agencies have received a directive that by tomorrow, our celebrations should only have up to 10 people. But we can celebrate online with them,” he said.
“Whatever that protest is, the timing is wrong because mass gatherings are not allowed, and if someone violates that we will investigate you…What we have worked for in the past three months will be wasted if all of a sudden this [protest] will lead to another wave [of infections]. I don’t want that to happen; please become good examples to our countrymen,” he said.
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