Cops scramble to pin down real numbers in pro-Duterte rally

Rambo Talabong

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Cops scramble to pin down real numbers in pro-Duterte rally
The PNP National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) counts the Plaza Miranda rally to peak at 7,000 while the Manila Police District (MPD) tallies more than double, recording 16,000

MANILA, Philippines – Were there 16,000 or 7,000 protesters? Even cops, so far, could not tell.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in its different offices has issued contradicting estimates over the real numbers of pro-Duterte protesters gathering in Plaza Miranda on September 21, the National Day of Protest.

The PNP National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) counted the rally to peak at 7,000 while the Manila Police District (MPD) tallied more than double, with their estimate standing at 16,000.

Asked for clarification during a September 22 press briefing about police deployment on the big day, PNP Deputy Spokesperson Vimellee Madrid said they have yet to verify the numbers with the MPD.

The superintendent said in a mix of English and Filipino:“We have dedicated personnel yesterday to monitor, so far that is the number they (NCRPO) have given, so we will verify if [Plaza] Miranda police released a number contradicting or different from what the NCRPO submitted to us.”

Plaza Miranda police did. Cops on the ground tallied 16,000 on a whiteboard as a reference to members of the press covering the protest.

BLOATED? MPD tallies 16,000 strikers in Plaza Miranda. Sourced photo

Its numbers reflect figures provided by the MPD Public Information Office (PIO).

Aside from counts in the Plaza Miranda protest, the MPD also gave a slightly higher estimate for the Luneta protest attended by anti-Duterte protesters.

The NCRPO counted 7,000 demonstrators from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, while the MPD counted 8,000 as of 5:30 pm.

IN NUMBERS: National Day of Protest Demonstrators
1:00 pm 5:00 pm 7:00 pm 8:00 pm 9:00 pm 11:00 pm
Luneta Protesters 5,000* 7,000 2,000 500 400 Program end
Plaza Miranda Protesters6,000 7,000 Program end
Commission on Human Rights 1,000 500 100 Program end

*Protesters counted in Mendiola before they proceeded to Luneta

This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte declared September 21 a National Day of Protest, inviting protesters from all sides to take part in remembering of the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.