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There could be changes in allowing conduct of rallies during SONA —Sinas


National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Police Major General Debold Sinas on Friday said there could be changes in the rules on mass protests during President Rodrigo Duterte's 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

At a press briefing, Sinas said the police would talk again to concerned stakeholders about the possible changes as regards protest actions during SONA. Sinas said authorities would also discuss the matter with the local government of Quezon City.

He noted that the NCRPO only received the new guidelines from the Department of the Interior and Local Government on Thursday about the ban on gatherings during SONA.

"There might be changes kasi new guidelines have been issued by the IATF. Kausapin muna natin 'yung mga stakeholders sa kabila on the new issued directive of the IATF. Kahapon lang po namin nakuha..." Sinas said.

Sinas shared the DILG's memorandum to reporters, stating that "The Inter-Agency Task Force strongly reiterates that mass gatherings, such as, but not limited to movie screenings, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work gatherings, are prohibited subject only to very limited exceptions stated in Section 4, Paragraph 12 of the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, as amended."

Asked if this means that rally is banned along Commonwealth during the SONA, Sinas said: "Kung doon talaga, bawal. Doon sa UP, kasi sa UP may sarili silang set-up doon, we'll just be negotiating sa administration doon."

"Ang guidance ni chief PNP sa kanila is as long as you don't violate and don't get out of UP compound, okay lang po," he added.

GMA News Online has asked the DILG for its official statement regarding the matter.

According to DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, the document from their department was simply an advisory cascading the policy to all local government units.

"It was the IATF that issued the policy under Resolution No. 57 that all forms of mass gatherings are prohibited under community quarantine and that includes rallies and demonstrations," Malaya said.

Meanwhile, the NCRPO chief strongly urged rallyists to just do their protest actions online.

"With this development, sana online protest para wala na talaga tayong problema," Sinas said.

Earlier, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes said the SONA rally is expected to be held along Commonwealth Avenue, in front of the Commission on Human Rights.

The program will be from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, shorter than the usual SONA protests, according to Reyes. He added that participants would stand on marked areas and would be required to wear face masks while organizers and volunteers will be bringing disinfectants as well.—AOL, GMA News