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Police threaten to detain ‘planking’ protesters


After seeing how the new protest action disrupted traffic during Monday’s transport strike, Manila police are adopting a tougher stance against demonstrators engaged in “planking" in the middle of busy city streets. ‘Planking’ involves lying face down in unusual places, with one’s body rigidly straight and arms to sides to mimic a wooden plank, then having photographs or videos of the act taken for posting on the Internet. The Manila Police District (MPD) said it may break up “planking" sessions and detain those engaged in the act especially if they pose a danger to others, radio dzBB’s Carlo Mateo reported. On Monday, several youth protesters engaged in “planking" along busy España Boulevard in Manila’s busy Sampaloc district, slowing down traffic in the area. MPD spokesman Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo appealed to groups organizing protest actions not to hold such acts, saying they are endangering their own lives.
‘Planking’ protest in Manila roads A group of around 30 youths from the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and Anakbayan were showing support for the Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operaor Nationwide (PISTON) in holding a “nationwide" transport strike to protest rising prices of fuel. At the time, police did not move against the militants as they were under instructions to observe “maximum tolerance" in dealing with protesters. Authorities were surprised when the traffic lights turned red and several youths rushed into the streets to execute their ‘planking’ protest at the corner of España Boulevard and M. Dela Fuente Street. Beginning at around 9 a.m. Monday, the planking protest was supposed to take place in 10-15 minute intervals up until 6 p.m. But at 10 a.m., police prevented the militants from again ‘planking’ in the middle of the streets. The militants then proceeded to the Mabuhay Rotunda to continue their protest action. Police vehicles originally meant to provide free rides to stranded motorists ended up escorting the members of the protest rally to their change of venue. At the Mabuhay Rotunda, protesters again dropped onto the pavement to do ‘planking’ but the police immediately pulled them off the streets to avoid traffic disruption.
Previous ‘planking’ protests Monday’s transport strike was not the first time ‘planking’ was used as a means of protest. On July 19, just a few days before the first State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III, hundreds of students protested against his administration's budget cuts for state universities and colleges and “lack of decisive steps to curb tuition and other fee hikes" in an event dubbed as “Mass Planking for our Right to Education." But the first recorded use of ‘planking’ in protest actions occurred in May this year in Shenzhen, China. Protesters planked outside a shareholder meeting to demand higher wages and decry treatment of employees at Foxconn where there was a spate of workers' suicides in 2010. — With a report from Marlon Anthony Tonson/RSJ, GMA News
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