Government personnel wearing Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) shirts rearranged and enhanced so-called security contraptions along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City in preparation for President Benigno Aquino’s last State of the Nation Address.
Backhoes and trucks transferred “zebra” concrete blocks from the road’s West-bound side to its East-bound side to create two-layered deterrents to protesters expected to fill the area on Monday.
Steel barriers are placed on top of the first row of concrete blocks topped with newly-installed barbed concertina wires.
Large steel containers are also placed on U-turn slots to prevent the protesters from transferring to the other side of the road as has been their practice for years.
The Philippine National Police and the MMDA are expected to block the East-bound side of Commonwealth Avenue with several layers of steel containers to stop tens of thousands of protesters from coming closer to the House of Representatives complex.
Progressive organizations, human rights groups and media personalities have been protesting these measures as overkill that violate the people’s right to assemble as written in the Philippines’ Bill of Rights under its 1987 Constitution.
The Quezon City government has denied the petition for permit to rally filed earlier by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
Batas Pambansa 880 tasks local government units to “ministerially” act on such petitions within three days of submission, after which it is deemed granted if ignored.
Bayan international officer Rita Baua said she could not recall of any instance that contraptions of such enormity were erected even under Martial Law.
“It’s only under the so-called Daang Matuwid that we see such viciousness and blatant disregard of the people’s right to assemble,” Baua said. #
(Photos and text by Raymund B. Villanueva)