THE Manila Police District (MPD) on Monday barricaded the entire Padre Faura in Manila after receiving information that a consumer group called Ilonggo Consumers Movement was scheduled to hold a protest rally in front of the Supreme Court despite the ongoing ban against mass gatherings due to the continued threat of the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.
MPD Station 5 Commander Lt Col. Ariel Caramoan said at least 55 policemen were deployed to the area to prevent rallyists from holding a rally.
Caramoan explained that the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) Omnibus Guidelines strictly prohibited any mass gathering and participants could be arrested for violating social distancing and the Revised Penal Code on illegal assembly.
Earlier, the Ilonggo Consumers Movement allegedly sent an invitation to the media to cover their planned protest action to be held in front of the SC to condemn the ongoing brownouts in Iloilo City.
Tuesday Calma, the group’s coordinator, said they decided not to push through with their planned protest action after seeing the strong presence of the police and instead held a press conference at Max Restaurant in Maria Orosa, Manila.
“Pinagbawalan kami ng guard ng SC na hindi raw p’wedeng mag-protesta at sabi ng mga pulis ay hindi rin p’wede kaya umalis na lang kami,” said Calma who joined the press conference with three other members of the Ilonggo Consumer Movement and distributed press release and held a photo opportunity with “No to More Power in Iloilo” placard.
While they represent the Ilonggo Consumer Group, they admitted that they are not based in Iloilo City and not fluent in the Ilonggo dialect.
The group is said to be associated with the Panay Electric Company (PECO), but Calma vehemently denied the allegation.
Calma said the group’s action is not in any way connected to the scheduled investigation yesterday by the Iloilo City Council about the brownouts in Iloilo City.
Despite MPD’s stern warning, the group said they still have plans to hold protest action in the coming days.
Earlier, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno reminded against holding of protest actions in Manila during public health emergency.
"They are all welcome in Manila at any given time, ang pakisuyo ko lang ‘wag lang nila gagawin ngayon, and we will implement what we have to do, and I hope this will be a fair warning. If protesters conduct gatherings and violate policies, then he will have to do his job to protect Manilenyos,” said Moreno about rallyists.
MPD Director General Rolando Miranda said the directive of Moreno is very clear and will be implemented by the police.
To avert arrest, Miranda appealed to the people to religiously follow the prohibition against mass gathering.
The More Electric and Power Corporation (More Power) is now managing the electric power in Iloilo City after securing a legislative franchise from Congress.
It also got a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said that the power supply in Iloilo City is no longer under PECO’s control after its operational permit was revoked and their franchise to operate was not renewed by Congress.