MANILA – Authorities on Friday arrested two militant leaders for holding Labor Day protest actions in Rodriguez, Rizal amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a press statement, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said Rastica Clarito and Reynaldo Dulay, leaders of the Bukluran ng Mangagagawang Pilipino (BMP), staged a picket protest near a subdivision in Barangay San Isidro at around 9:30 a.m.
The protesters clamored for financial assistance amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Banac said while the PNP upholds the freedom of expression and right to peaceably assemble, personal safety and the best interest of public health and welfare must prevail.
“The strict enforcement of the ECQ is the State’s fulfillment of its duty to protect the right to life of its people, especially against those who violate it by asserting their liberties, which in this case is not absolute, and which inevitably spreads the contagion further,” he said.
Meanwhile, areas that are usually crowded with protesters such as the Mendiola and Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila, Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City and Quezon City Circle, during Labor Day were quiet.
Police officers, however, were deployed in these areas in case protesters go to these places.
The PNP noted that many local labor and transport organizations scrapped earlier plans coordinated by militant umbrella organizations to stage public assemblies, and instead took their protests online via Zoom and Facebook.
On Thursday, Malacañang said workers can exercise the right to air their grievances on the occasion as long as they follow quarantine protocols.
Mass gatherings are prohibited under the guidelines of the ECQ and the general community quarantine (GCQ).
Metro Manila and other “high-risk areas” will remain under the ECQ until May 15 while the GCQ took effect in other areas in the country on Friday. (ia/PNA)