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Court refused to lift ban on SONA protest near Batasan

/ 04:20 PM July 19, 2013

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MANILA, Philippines—A Quezon City judge has denied a request by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan for a 72-hour temporary restraining order against a decision by the Quezon City government barring demonstrations near the House of Representatives as President Benigno Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address on Monday.

But Executive Judge Fernando Sagun Jr. of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court speedily raffled off Bayan’s petition for certiorari with an application for a TRO or a preliminary injunction for hearing by the court’s Branch 77 under Judge Germano Francisco Legaspi, who immediately began hearing the case.

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“After careful consideration of the allegations contained in the petition, along with its enclosures, this office is not inclined to issue the 72-hour restraining order prayed for by the petitioners in their petition and resolves to deny the same,” Judge Sagun said in a two-page order issued Friday.

But owing to the urgency of the petition in light of the President’s state of the nation speech on Monday, Sagun immediately set the electronic raffle for the case and the petition is now being handled by Judge Legaspi.

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Lawyer Edre Olalia, national secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, one of the petitioners, said that the court will now act on the application for TRO or preliminary injunction as the request for the 72-hour TRO was denied by the executive judge.

Early this week, Elmo San Diego, chief of Quezon City’s Department of Public Order and Safety, denied Bayan’s request to be allowed to hold a rally on Batasan Road, near the House of Representatives. He also denied a request from the Freedom from Debt Coalition for a permit to hold a rally near the Ever Gotesco mall on Commonwealth Avenue.

This prompted Bayan to seek a TRO on Thursday afternoon.

The militant group named San Diego, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Quezon City Police District director Chief Supt. Richard Albano as respondents.

Aside from a 72-hour TRO, Bayan also asked for a TRO, a preliminary injunction or the nullification of the directive, which the group criticized as “grave abuse of discretion” on the part of the city government.

In separate letters to the two groups, San Diego said the areas of Batasan Road and Commonwealth Avenue were “no rally zones.”

He suggested a freedom park at the City Hall, which is several klilometers away from the House of Representatives, as a venue for the rallies as no permit is required there.

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San Diego cited possible traffic jams and sanitation concerns as reasons for denying the groups’ rally permit applications.

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TAGS: Aquino SONA, Benigno Aquino III, Government, Permit, protest, rally, SONA 2013
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