February 14, 2006
Palace wants rallies monitored
President Arroyo on Monday has reportedly ordered authorities to closely monitor rallies and other street demonstrations amid concerns that these could grow as part of destabilization efforts against the government.
No less than retired Lt. Gen. Victor Mayo, deputy director-general of the National Security Council , made the revelation as he faced the Senate Monday for a budget hearing.
According to Mayo, the NSC and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) have taken over the Presidential Situation Room in Malacañan where they are keeping track of rallies and mass actions.
The revelation made by Mayo surprised some of the President's critics who have claimed that she has been clamping down on the freedom of expression in the streets.
Last year, the government implemented a calibrated pre-emptive response against street demonstrations that are perceived to be anti-Arroyo following the "Hello, Garci" tapes controversy.
Following the scandal that rocked the administration, police ordered personnel to arrest activists caught violating the government order against illegal rallies.
In several Metro Manila cities, local government implemented a "no rally zone" aimed at curbing street demonstrations without the required permits from the mayor.
Activists criticized the government for the order, saying it is clamping down on their freedom to express their views.