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NCRCom chief: Street protests no longer threat to stability

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Rallies likely to decline as fuel prices rise

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:29:00 07/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Street protests are no longer a threat to the stability of government and are more likely to decline rather than intensify as fuel prices continue to escalate, the military commander for Metro Manila said Wednesday.

Major General Arsenio Arugay, chief of the Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom), claimed militant organizations are running short of funds to stage protest actions since they, too, are affected by the rising cost of commodities.

The NCRCom has placed 2,000 troops on standby to augment the roughly 6,000 policemen that will secure the capital when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivers her annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 28, Arugay said.

Authorities are expecting between 10,000 and 17,000 protesters to gather at several points in the metropolis when the President addresses the joint session of Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, Arugay told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

“The street protests will not be a major threat to the stability of the government as we see it…Our troops and the PNP [Philippine National Police] are prepared for this,” Arugay said.

“Beyond the SONA, we foresee some street rallies or demonstrations, but these are the usual protest rallies that are being staged in protest of the increasing prices of oil and food,” he said. “We don’t see any escalation of street protests after the SONA.”

Asked why he saw a downtrend in protest actions, Arugay said: “The issues [raised by the protesters] are being addressed, and we find the staging of street protests and rallies [is] becoming expensive on the part of organizers.”

Arugay said there was no specific threat during the SONA, but government forces are not letting their guards down.

“Ours is continued vigilance. Nothing can be taken for granted and for the stability of our republic,” he said.

In 2006, authorities claimed to have thwarted an alleged plot by rebel soldiers to attack the Batasan during Arroyo’s address after several junior officers from the mutinous Magdalo group were arrested and explosives seized from them.

In 2005, Arroyo delivered her report to the nation at the height of street protests calling for her resignation over the leak of the so-called “Hello Garci” tapes, purported wiretaps of phone conversations between the President and former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano about alleged cheating operations that won her the 2004 elections.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2008-07-23T07:49:12+00:00UTC07bUTCWed, 23 Jul 2008 07:49:12 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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