Recent dispersal reminiscent of Arroyo strategy vs protest actions — Bayan
MANILA, Philippines — The defense mounted by the acting Philippine National Police (PNP) chief regarding the dispersal of protesters during last Wednesday’s proclamation of election winners was a throwback to the calibrated preemptive response (CPR), an activist group said.
According to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on Monday, PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr.’s statements about the rally were reminiscent of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s CPR, which has been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The CPR was a policy of the Arroyo administration in 2005, wherein the PNP was tasked to enforce a “no permit, no rally” rule that allowed them to disperse supposedly unlawful protests during a time when rallies were mounting.
“The statement of General Danao against peaceful protests is a throwback to the ‘calibrated preemptive response’ era of Gloria Arroyo. The CPR was deemed unconstitutional by the SC,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said in a statement sent to reporters.
“The police cannot violently disperse peaceful protesters even when they do not have rally permits or are outside the freedom park. To say that they cannot go an inch outside the freedom park, to justify violent police action, is a distortion of the law and is no different from CPR,” he added.
Reyes was referring to Danao’s speech at the flag-raising ceremony earlier, where the PNP official said that the police officers manning rallies would not allow people to assemble outside freedom parks.
Danao said that they would not allow protesters to move even just an ‘inch’ outside of their rally zones, explaining why rally attendees were doused with water.
“We will always allow them to have their peaceful assembly in the so-called freedom parks, and with permits from local government units. However, we have to prevent them from even moving an inch outside of these authorized rally zones, those who will go overboard in their actions and march outside the freedom parks have to face the rule of law, as we try to keep peace and order always,” Danao said.
Reyes however advised Danao to study the law, as Batas Pambansa Blg. 880 does not say that the police can arrest people participating in peaceful protests without permits.
He also insisted that protesters were not merely doused but were hit by water using water cannons.
“Danao should study the law he is desperately trying to distort to suit a narrative of political repression against the people. No, you cannot arrest peaceful protesters even when they have no permits. The law is explicit. No person can be punished or held criminally liable for participating in or attending an otherwise peaceful assembly,” he said.
“The law also does not sanction the violent dispersal of peaceful rallies without permits. There is NOTHING in the BP 880 which says you can use truncheons and water cannons vs peaceful protesters even when they are outside freedom parks and have no rally permits,” he claimed.
The rally during the proclamation of winners for the presidential and vice presidential race resulted in a short scuffle between protesters and members of the police’s Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) units, which prompted the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to do an investigation of the incident.
Danao, however, claimed that it was the protesters who started the incident, as they allegedly hurled invectives at the CDM personnel, while at the same time trying to move out of the rally site — CHR’s Liwasang Diokno.
Earlier, the acting PNP chief said that the police force’s response during the rallies exhibited “professionalism at its best,” calling out accusations that the dispersal was an overkill.
Rally participants were holding protest action against the proclamation of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, son of late former president and namesake Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, claiming that massive electoral fraud happened even if various groups have already said that the polls were clean.
Marcos got 31,629,783 votes, way ahead of closest competitor and opposition candidate Vice President Leni Robredo with 15,035,773 votes
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