18,000 cops to secure Labor Day rallies

(PHILSTAR) MANILA, Philippines — Around 18,000 police officers will be deployed throughout the country on Labor Day tomorrow to ensure security at demonstrations by cause-oriented groups, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said yesterday.

Colonel Jean Fajardo, PNP spokesperson, said police officers will secure freedom parks and major thoroughfares where workers’ unions and other cause-oriented groups are expected to hold demonstrations.

“Our concentration is here at freedom parks and places of convergence wherein we monitor rallies,” Fajardo, speaking partly in Filipino, said in an interview with Teleradyo.

Earlier, rally organizers said they will mobilize at least 10,000 workers for mass actions on Labor Day.

In Metro Manila, the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) will deploy at least 10,529 police personnel.

The police will apply maximum tolerance and will not interfere with the protest actions of workers’ groups but urged demonstrators to keep their activities in freedom parks unless local government units granted them permits to rally.

“We did not raise our alert level. This will be a normal alert,” said Fajardo. “Our paramount consideration is respect for human rights and freedom of expression and speech.”

Wage increase

In response to the celebration of workers, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada pledged to call a hearing on Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri’s proposal to mandate an across-the-board wage increase of P150 in the private sector nationwide.

Estrada acknowledged the need to increase the salary of workers, but said the government must strike a balance for medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs).

MSMEs – which represent 99.6 percent of businesses in the Philippines and contribute around 40 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – play a crucial role in developing the country’s economy.

For his part, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said companies should give their workers a salary increase if they can afford it. “Let’s understand that all of us, including the companies, are just in the process of recovering (from the pandemic). If we can afford it we should give it,” he said.

Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez had declared that while there is no wage increase on May 1, the Department of Labor and Employment is extending P1.8 billion worth of financial aid, including emergency employment and livelihood assistance.

Free rides

Passengers of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) can ride for free on select times on Labor Day, the state-owned Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) announced.

The free train rides will be available from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Commuters should present identification cards (ID) issued by their companies, as well as a valid government-issued ID, to avail themselves of the free train rides.

Despite it being a regular holiday, the Pasig River Ferry System will operate on Labor Day. The ferry service, which has 13 stations in the cities of Pasig, Mandaluyong, Makati and Manila shall also be free of charge for passengers.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority declared that the number coding will be suspended on Labor Day.

This means that motorists driving vehicles with plate numbers ending in 1 and 2 – which are prohibited every Monday as part of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program – should not be apprehended for being on the road. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ghio Ong