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Labor Day rallyists defy MECQ, safety guidelines

By Marita Moaje / Philippine News Agency

LABOR DAY RALLY. Amid the afternoon heat and an estimated crowd of 2,000 at Mabuhay Rotonda in Quezon City on Saturday (May 1, 2021), this 65-year-old man fainted but later regained consciousness. Militant groups held the demonstration at the famous landmark in celebration of Labor Day, after they were dispersed by the Manila police from Liwasang Bonifacio. (Photo courtesy of Radyo Pilipinas)

MANILA – In scenes reminiscent of a recent community pantry organized by a celebrity, Quezon City was the venue anew of a mass gathering that did not just violate modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) guidelines, but also put the safety of rallyists at risk.

On Saturday, the Quezon City Police District, in a statement, estimated there were about 2,000 individuals who attended a Labor Day rally by different militant labor groups that converged at the Mabuhay Rotonda monument, the boundary of Manila and Quezon City.

The demonstrators were part of the group that was dispersed from Liwasang Bonifacio by the Manila Police District.

Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao, Jr., Director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said 10,366 peace-keeping personnel were deployed to monitor mass actions.

Mass gatherings are not allowed under MECQ, the status of NCR at least until May 14.

A report by Mike Rogas of Radyo Pilipinas added that a 58-year-old man collapsed as the program was ongoing under the intense afternoon heat.

The man was later identified by a QC official, who refused to be identified as he was not yet allowed to speak on the matter, as Wilfredo Abaluna, 65.

He was attended to by first-aid responders of a standby ambulance but refused to be taken to a hospital, the official. said

Rogas reported that the rallyists used a 12-wheeler truck as makeshift stage for their program.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself warned on Wednesday that local officials, including village captains, may be slapped with administrative and criminal charges if they don’t enforce quarantine rules in their areas of jurisdiction.

Officials of the Manila and Quezon City local government units, as well as the police, could not be reached for comment.

Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire of the Department of Health said Covid-19 infection is possible where there is no distancing, even in open spaces.

“’Yung pagkukumpol kumpol ng mga tao kahit kayo ay nasa maaliwalas na lugar o nasa open space kayo ay maaari pa ring makapag-cause ng pagkakahawa-hawaan (Mass gatherings even in an open space may still be a cause of Covid-19 infections),” she warned in previous interviews.

On April 23, actress Angel Locsin organized a community pantry in Barangay Holy Spirit, where thousands waited for free items.

A 67-year-old male vendor, who was in the queue for hours, fainted and later died in a hospital.

As of Thursday, 64 have availed of free swab tests offered by the QC government.

So far, two have tested positive while other results are pending.

Quezon City has 7,174 active Covid-19 cases as of Saturday. (PNA)



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