Thousands to join anti-Sona protests

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


OVER 4,000 people coming from militant groups will flock to Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Monday to stage protests in time for the fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Benigno Aquino III, police said Sunday.

Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Director Richard Albano said the militants can conduct the rally even without permit but they cannot go beyond the Ever Gotesco Mall, which is roughly a 10-minute drive from the House of Representatives, the venue of the yearly event.

Albano said since Friday, they have been conducting ocular inspection and preparation in the places that will be affected by the Sona such as streets.

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The public disturbance unit of the QCPD also underwent proper crowd dispersal training in anticipation of protesters who will not follow instructions.

Albano said they also positioned concrete barriers with barb wires and metal containers along Commonwealth Avenue for crowd control.

Albano also said the QCPD, in coordination with the Quezon City Traffic and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), thoroughly studied and planned the traffic scheme for the Sona to guide motorists and mitigate public inconvenience.

At 12:01 a.m. Monday, the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue from Quezon Memorial Circle/Philcoa to Fairview (Fairview Center Mall) will be cleared from any traffic obstruction and illegally parked vehicles will be towed.

Albano said only the two leftmost lane of north bound (going Fairview) will be utilized as concrete barriers will be placed in front of St. Peter Parish and Convergy’s.

Rerouting will start at 3 a.m. in a U-turn slot in front of Jockfer Building and Omni tire supply utilizing south bound lanes (going to Philcoa) as the north bound will be closed to traffic.

It will be a 1.6-kilometer counter flow from Jockfer to San Simon U-Turn slot, utilizing four lanes of south bound for the motorists heading north while remaining four lanes will be utilized by motorists going south.

Motorists from Tivoli Royale and other subdivisions behind Ever Gotesco shall use the Jockfer U-turn as Ktv Superstar and Capitol/Meralco U-turn slot will be closed.

Vehicles from Capitol Estates 1 will utilize St. Peter Church U-turn slot in going to north and south direction.

After the San Simon U-Turn slot, the nine northbound lanes can be utilized.

At noon, the entire westbound lane of IBP Road will be closed (from Litex to Sandiganbayan) to be utilized by VIPs only.

Vehicles from Filinvest 1, Sinagtala, San Mateo Road, Filinvest 2 shall take right turn and exit at Litex-Commonwealth.

IBP Litex Road will also be closed for motorists coming from Montalban/Rodriguez Area and will take Soliven St., in going to Commonwealth Ave. and Fairview.

Albano advised motorists to take the alternate route to decongest Commonwealth Avenue by taking Congressional Avenue, turn left to Mindanao Avenue, right Sauyo Road, left Chestnut, right to Dahlia and left to Regalado Avenue to reach Fairview Center mall where they can proceed to either north or south bound while motorists from Fairview can take the same route in the opposite direction in going to Quezon Memorial Circle.

He added that the normal flow of traffic will resume at 6 p.m. of the same date.

Earlier, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it will deploy more than 10,000 police personnel to provide security and to ensure peace and order during the Sona.

All units and offices of the PNP were placed on a heightened alert status last Friday for all major events such as the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) Centennial Celebration on Sunday, Sona on Monday and Eid-al-Ftr or end of Ramadan on Tuesday.

“Unit Commanders are reminded to secure all vital installations, economic key points, as well as places of convergence, and ensure high state of operational readiness to deter unlawful activities,” PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said.

Police Regional Offices (PROs) 3, 4A, National Capital Region and Special Action Force (SAF) are on full alert status for the Sona while regional directors in the said areas are given the discretion to upgrade their alert level depending on the prevailing peace and order situation in their respective areas of responsibility.

“Nakikiusap po kami sa mga militanteng grupo na sana sumunod po tayo para wala nang mangyaring gulo,” Albano said.

Meanwhile, leaders of the militant groups described the security preparations as “over acting.”

“Wala naman ang may gustong magkagulo siyempre, ang gusto lang namin ay maiparating sa pamahalaan ang aming mga mensahe,” said Joms Salvador, secretary general of party-list group Gabriela.

Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo called the government "paranoid and desperate."

Earlier, Gabriela showed to the media their preparations for the Sona including a jingle to the tune of "Bad Romance" of pop singer Lady Gaga.

The jingle criticizes Aquino's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a purported economic spending measure that was recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).

The decision was used by militants as basis for seeking Aquino's impeachment on the grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption.

“The Aquino government’s response to the public outrage over the DAP is to try to drown the public with lies. It is proof that Aquino is dishonest and as we say in Filipino, ‘Kapatid ng sinungaling ang magnanakaw.’ Filipinos have rejected Aquino’s lies on the DAP and will surely reject his lies in his fifth Sona,” said Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) chairperson Elmer Labog.

He said the DAP was not an emergency measure as it was "secretly" implemented for three years, does not have a legal basis, did not help improve the economy, and its funds were "clearly" lump-sum or similar to the unconstitutional pork barrel.

The Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), for its part, is urging all civil servants across the country to to join the protests.

“Take a stand and walkout! Let us not simply wait and listen for the President to once again deliver his lies on the situation of the country, bore us with his selective tirades and lull us with promises of bread and roses,” said Courage leader Ferdinand Gaite.

“To show our unity and protest against pay cuts, the benefits, which were impounded for DAP, and the oppressive taxes imposed on benefits that were supposed to augment our meager pay, we call on everyone to launch coordinated walkouts and join the Sona protests nationwide,” he added.

The group said it is time to follow the example of court workers who took a united stand against Aquino and some legislators for attacking the SC.
“As we have shown last week, this Monday shall be another Red and Black Monday for all employees, in the judiciary, legislative and executive branches of the government,” Gaite said. (Third Anne Peralta/Virgil Lopez/HDT/Sunnex)

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