Rallies not allowed: Cops stop protest of anti-terror law petitioners at SC | Inquirer News
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Rallies not allowed: Cops stop protest of anti-terror law petitioners at SC

/ 08:18 PM September 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time, the police stepped in to stop a group from holding a protest in front of the Supreme Court while filing their petition against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (ATA) for not observing physical distancing and not wearing face shields.

The petitioners are members of women’s and women’s rights groups. Their petition is the 37th filed against the controversial law.

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Most of the filing of other petitions preceding Monday’s filing of the women’s organizations also held a brief protest in front of the Supreme Court, and they were able to do so without being interrupted by the police.

Monday’s police intervention came a day after the Ermita police station commander was sacked from his post for the mass gathering of sightseers at the Manila Bay “white sand beach” and the Baywalk.

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Atty. Virginia Suarez, counsel for the 27 women petitioners against ATA said the protest was in support of the petitions that they are filing before the high court but their tarpaulins “were taken and [they] were forced to leave.” But the protesters stayed.

“It ended well naman,” Suarez said.

Police Lt. Col. Alex Daniel, new Ermita police station commander, said they were informed that they will be filing a petition before the Supreme Court.

“Pero bigla silang nagrally. Nagdikit-dikit po at nagkaroon ng violation sa protocol natin [But they suddenly held a rally and they were standing close to each other violating our protocol], Daniel said.

“Umakto lang po tayo. Sa rally, nagkakaroon ng grouping at kapag na-establish ang group lalu na sa rally, nagkakasigawan tayo (We only acted. In a rally, there’s a grouping and when the group has established, especially in a rally, there’s shouting),” he said.

Daniel said the police have always been strict with protocols. However, he said the throngs of people going to Manila was sudden.

Two petitions against ATA were filed Monday at the Supreme Court.  The 36th petition was filed by the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc, Caucus of Development NGO Networks Inc., the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Caritas Filipinas Foundation Inc., and Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines.

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“The ATA is constitutionally unsound, and should therefore be declared void as it violates protected rights and freedoms, particularly: the rights to free speech and expression, organization and privacy, as well as the freedom from deprivation of life, liberty, and property without due process,” read the petition.

Like the other petitioners, they also urged the high court to issue a restraining order against ATA’s implementation.

The other petition was filed by Suarez’s group.

“The law is an act of State overreach at the expense of fundamental rights. It has the effect of nullifying what should be protected according to the Constitution like free speech, due speech, presumption of innocence, right too assembly, right against unreasonable searches and warrantless arrests, and right to bail among others,” they said in a statement.

As per the Supreme Court’s official list, there are 35 petitions against the Anti-Terror Law. Two petitions from Mindanao have yet to reach the high court.

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TAGS: Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Ermita, Manila Bay, Petition, rally, Supreme Court
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