Bayan tells PNP: No such thing as ‘illegal rallyists’
MANILA, Philippines — Activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has called out the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its statement about blocking protesters who may stage programs during the inauguration of winning candidates, saying that there is no such thing as “illegal rallyists.”
According to Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, the constitution guarantees the right to peaceful assembly, meaning, the people are free to air their grievances in freedom parks where no permits are required.
Bayan was referring to the statements of PNP director for operations Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon about the PNP’s Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) units ensuring that “illegal rallyists” would not be allowed to get close to the venue of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ inauguration.
“There is no such thing as ‘illegal rallyists’. The PNP is truly ignorant of the law,” Reyes said on Monday.
“No person shall be penalized or punished for participating in an otherwise peaceful assembly, even when there is no permit. And persons are free to assemble in designated freedom parks such as Liwasang Bonifacio where no permits are required,” he added.
Reyes claimed that the PNP is only trying to intimidate people who may want to stage protests when the President-elect gets inaugurated.
“The PNP is again trying to intimidate people and preventing them from exercising their constitutional rights […] This is another disgusting display of a fascist mindset, surely to continue under the next administration,” he added.
This is not the first time that progressive groups and the police force have clashed in terms of staging protests. Last May 25, while Congress was canvassing votes for president and vice president, a short scuffle broke out after protesters at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) grounds in Diliman, Quezon City.
Police claimed that the protesters tried to proceed to Commonwealth Avenue even if they did not have a permit to stage a protest in that area, kicking the riot shields of the CDM personnel deployed to the area.
However, activists say that the police water cannoned them, prompting CHR to launch a probe if such actions were a violation of the Batas Pambansa Blg. 880, which allows peaceful assembly.
PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. meanwhile explained that the rallyists were merely doused with water after pushing the CDM units, adding that the actions of the police that day were a show of professionalism.
But Bayan countered last May 30 that the dispersal and the actions of the PNP appeared to be a ‘throwback’ to former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s calibrated preemptive response (CPR), a strategy to thwart what the state then considered “unlawful protests.”
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