Protester arrested in Kawit during Independence Day rites
KAWIT, Cavite — Protesters who disrupted his speech here on Independence Day were merely exercising their freedom of expression, according to President Rodrigo Duterte, but one of them still ended up being arrested.
The protesters called the President a “traitor” and dismissed June 12 as “fake” Independence Day.
As members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and policemen scrambled to stop some 10 protesters belonging to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, the President sought to calm things down.
“Just let them be. It’s freedom of speech. You can have it. It’s OK,” he said from a window of the Aguinaldo Shrine where he led Independence Day celebrations.
The President had just started to speak when the protesters shouted in front of where journalists were seated that June 12 was a sham Independence Day, a message that was written on bond paper they brandished.
A man in a black T-shirt and shorts also took out a piece of paper and started to shout that the President was a traitor. He called for the President’s removal from office.
His action prompted PSG men and policemen to rip the paper and forcibly took him away.
As this was going on, the President said the Constitution guaranteed “freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and free expression.”
He told the policemen to “just deal with (the protesters) peacefully and with maximum tolerance.”
“We may not understand each other but at least there is a common denominator, and that is love of country,” he said.
Despite the President’s call for maximum tolerance, Francis Couchie “IC” Rafael, 20, was arrested for disturbing public order.
Chief Insp. Mark Jason Gatdula, Kawit police chief, said in a phone interview that only Rafael was arrested because the others were minors. Rafael is a member of the overseas workers alliance, Migrante-Southern Tagalog.
Gatdula said Rafael was detained at the Kawit police station. While his offense was bailable, Rafael could not post bail because courts were closed as it was a holiday.
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