By Aaron Recuenco
Fewer protesters have shown up than what the Philippine National Police (PNP) had expected to be a massive protest action for Labor Day in Metro Manila, Tuesday.
Based on the police count, the number of protesters in the metropolis had peaked to almost 5,000 at 1 p.m., which is way below the tens of thousands of rallyists that organizers had vowed to mobilize.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) had deployed some 10,000 policemen in anticipation of throngs of protesters that might show up after President Duterte failed to realize his campaign promise of ending the contractualization in the country.
“The mass demonstrations nationwide remain to be peaceful with no untoward incident reported. A total of 6,920 protesters were monitored nationwide,” Bulalacao said.
In Metro Manila, around 5,000 rallyists were monitored in some parts of Manila, particularly in Mendiola, composed of members of various militant labor groups and their allies.
In Bataan, some 30 rallyists staged a protest action at Green Oil Gas Station in Mariveles, Bataan while around 40 protesters were seen in Barangay Balibago in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
In Bicol region, around 500 protesters showed up in Legazpi City; some 300 protesters in Naga City and another 350 in Daet, Camarines Norte.
In Cebu, around 200 protesters joined the Labor Day protest while 500 rallyists in Butuan City.
Bulalacao said all policemen were instructed to remain at their post until such time that the protest action sites are cleared and when their commanders declared that it is already safe to leave.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, on the other hand, has visited some of the policemen who were deployed in various areas in Metro Manila for the Labor Day protest action.
“Everything was peaceful and we hope that this will end without violence,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde attributed the peaceful conduct of the protest action to the preparations of the police, as well as the show of sincerity on the part of the PNP to prevent a violent incident.
“They have seen how we tried to make everything peaceful and maybe they also realized that there is no need for any violent confrontation,” Albayald said.
“They are free to shout, to say everything they want but we just appealed to them not to engage in any action that would lead to a confrontation between the police and the protesters,” he added.
For Albayalde, there seems to be no more protest action since what the labor groups have been complaining was realized by Duterte when he signed an Executive Order banning illegal contract mode of employment.
But labor groups have slammed the signed Executive Order, saying it does not take an EO to point out the illegal appointment activities, and that the contents of the EO are the mere reiteration of what was already stipulated in the existing labor laws of the country.