AFP to maintain normal alert for rally vs 'pork'
MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will maintain its normal alert status for the “Million People March” against the corruption-tainted congressional pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in Rizal Park tomorrow.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs chief, said the military would closely monitor security developments in connection with the protest action.
“We are monitoring the developments on the ground and closely coordinating with our police counterparts,” Zagala said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has been placed on full alert status to ensure peace and order during the rally.
If requested by the PNP, Zagala said the AFP is ready to deploy its troops to augment law enforcement operations.
Thousands or even millions are expected to converge in Rizal Park tomorrow to call for the total scrapping of the pork barrel system in both houses of Congress.
The scheduled protest has gone viral in social media with thousands responding to join the “One Million March.”
A group of retired military officers, along with their families, has expressed intent to join the rally to demand the return of the stolen funds and punishment of those who plundered taxpayers’ money.
Left-wing groups from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog are also expected to join the protest action in Rizal Park.
“We have not monitored any threat. But we are on the lookout because some groups with vested interests can infiltrate the peaceful assembly,” a senior security official said.
The PNP yesterday said it would be using social media to coordinate security matters with organizers and convenors of the “Martsa sa Luneta” tomorrow.
PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said they are relying on announcements and posts on Twitter and Facebook to coordinate its own security preparations for the event.
PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima has ordered National Capital Region Police Office director Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo Jr. and the Manila Police District under Chief Superintendent Isagani Genabe to ensure peace and order during the assembly.
The PNP’s main concern is to prevent lawless elements and threat groups from taking advantage of the situation, Sindac said.
He urged convenors of the event to coordinate their activities with police authorities through PNP SMS hotline 09178475757 or emergency hotline Patrol 117.
Meanwhile, an environmental group yesterday reminded the rally participants not to leave their trash in Rizal Park.
“As citizens from all walks of life assemble in Luneta tomorrow to appeal for truth and accountability, we urge everyone not to defile the historic park with litter,” said Aileen Lucero, acting national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.
“Our demand to end corruption is not an alibi to turn the park into a dump for cigarette butts, food leftovers and wrappers, plastic bags and even political leaflets,” she added.– With Mike Frialde, Rhodina Villanueva, Evelyn Macairan