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10,000 cops to keep May 1 crowd in check

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) will deploy about 10,000 cops to secure the Labor Day celebration—themed “Mayo Uno sa Bagong Panahon: Manggagawa at Mamamayan Babangon, Susulong”— in the metropolis today (May 1).

NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. said Friday they had activated the Reactionary Standby Support Force for deployment to augment local police response in anticipation of simultaneous mass actions of various labor organizations. 

He said they had placed the Civil Disturbance Management Team on standby.

Labor Day celebrations in the country are usually marked with mass actions and protests by labor organizations and progressive groups calling for better working conditions and benefits for workers.

The labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno is expected to launch a community pantry dubbed as “Tulong Obrero” in Manila on Saturday, aimed at helping workers affected by the pandemic.

"We are hoping that the commemoration of the 2021 Labor Day in Metro Manila would be quiet, peaceful, and safe. We are hoping for an orderly and organized celebration that complies with health standards to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019, " Danao said in a phone interview.

Aside from enforcing security and health protocols, the NCRPO will also conduct an online job fair.

“Through our online job fair, we are hoping that our people would find jobs in government agencies that have responded and supported the NCRPO’s project. We are also giving the youth an opportunity to find employment instead of doing useless things,” he added.

Workers' groups will conduct a protest at Liwasang Bonifacio to highlight what they said was the need for government aid and immediate response to arrest the rise of coronavirus disease cases in the country. 

Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson Bong Labog told ABS-CBN News that around 5,000 participants from the metro and other provinces are expected to join the protests.

Meanwhile, BAYAN secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said the lack of action from the national government had pushed them to bring their action back to the streets.

“The significance of the [physical] protest pertains to the severity of the crisis. If this was not this bad, if the economic situation was not this severe, maybe there would be other forms of protests but considering the state of [the country] like the lack of response, the growing number of people lining up everyday [at community pantries], the lack of government aid all these are factors which are considered of the holding of a physical protest,” Reyes told ABS-CBN News in an interview.

Danao noted that marshals would be assigned to ensure that participants will follow health protocols and physical distancing. 

In a separate interview, Lt. Gen. Joselito Vera Cruz, Philippine National Police deputy chief for operations and commander of the Joint Task Force COVID Shield, said police officials had been holding a staff conference on various matters, including security preparations, for Saturday's Labor Day observance.

Vera Cruz said mass gatherings remained prohibited under the guidelines of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) that is in effect in Metro Manila, the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Abra, Quirino, Ifugao, and the city of Santiago in Isabela from May 1 to 14.

In related developments, to maintain peace and order during the observance of Labor Day, the Quezon City Police District is deploying more police officers and traffic enforcers.

Brig. Gen. Antonio Yarra, QCPD chief, has ordered the deployment of 1,758 police personnel in several areas throughout the city to secure possible areas where there may be threats and civil disturbances, and to implement health and safety protocols, too.   

"We will deploy additional police personnel to maintain peace and order in our city. We would also like to ask our residents to stay at home so we can avoid the spread of COVID-19," he said.

The city’s police district and QC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office are also prepared to give medical and rescue assistance in an event of earthquake, fire and other natural and man-made disasters.

Mayor Joy Belmonte tasked authorities to ensure that the health protocols of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases were strictly observed and to ensure orderliness at the community pantries.

She urged residents to refrain from going out unless necessary as mass gatherings are still not authorized during MECQ.

Meanwhile, at least 5,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and minimum wage earners will be vaccinated today as a fitting tribute to Filipino workers, the Department of Labor and Employment said.

The “symbolic” vaccination of OFWs and ordinary workers will take place simultaneously in all 17 local government units in Metro Manila, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

Bello said 3,000 OFWs and 2,000 minimum wage earners, both part of the Priority Group A4 or the frontline personnel in essential sectors, would be vaccinated from a list submitted by labor groups and those provided by OFW organizations.

As this developed, a congressional leader appealed to concerned government agencies and employers to release all the benefits due to healthcare staff, including frontline barangay health workers in the fight against COVID-19.

Manila Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez, chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said now was the time to pay respect and express gratitude to them and give tribute to their contributions as workers. 

Reflecting on these significant Labor Day events, Lopez added in a statement, “the healthcare service has long been noted to be an honorable profession, but in the light of this pandemic we should also highlight and underscore its value and importance.

At the same time, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte renewed his appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the measure fast-tracking the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pagasa (BP2) program as a way to generate more investments outside Metro Manila and thus create a lot of jobs in the countryside in the long haul.

Villafuerte said that House Bill 6970, which sets up a national action plan for the President’s BP2 program, proposes a menu of incentives to entice investors to relocate or do business in the regions, thereby creating more jobs and livelihood opportunities outside the metropolis that would accelerate economic recovery from the pandemic and help reverse the decades-old problem of urban decongestion.

At the Senate, Senator Francis Pangilinan exhorted the public to thank and honor all those who have kept the country running this year amid the coronavirus pandemic—medical frontliners, teachers, delivery drivers, security guards, food service workers, police, work-from-home staff, entertainers, and many more workers.

"We recognize our overseas Filipino workers, who continue to brave the daily grind abroad for their families," he said.

Topics: Labor Day celebration , cops , National Capital Region Police Office , Vicente Danao Jr.

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