Militants decry denial of Sona protest permit
MANILA, Philippines — Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on Sunday reiterated that rallyists should be allowed to protest in front of the Batasang Pambansa Complex during President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.
“Police should read, understand and follow the law. (The) permit of Bayan for Sona (is) deemed granted by operation of law because of deliberate inaction/delayed action by (the Quezon City) government,” said Bayan’s legal counsel Edre Olalia.
He was reacting to the Quezon City government’s letter to Bayan saying that while “initial assessment of the Quezon City Police District disclosed that the rally will not pose danger to the national security” holding the rally in front of the House of Representatives “cannot be favorably granted…(because) there is not enough space to assemble in the area without obstructing the free flow of traffic.”
Olalia, who is the secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said traffic cannot be used as an excuse to prohibit a protest.
“The Constitution, Batasang Pambansa 880, domestic and international jurisprudence say application to rally at a specific time and place cannot be denied or modified just because of traffic,” he said in a text message to media.
“Law says (it is) incumbent on police to precisely reroute traffic to allow rallyists to march. To block the rally is illegal,” he added.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes told INQUIRER.net that they will “protest the arbitrary denial of the permit and the curtailment of (their) constitutional rights.
He said they will attempt to push through with the rally along Commonwealth Avenue.
“We will see,” he said.
“We’d also like to call attention to the overkill preparations involving concrete barriers, steel fences and razor sharp concertina wires which are a danger to the public,” he added.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan, said the Philippine National Police (PNP) seemed to be “preparing a garrison in Commonwealth Avenue.
She shared photos of the concrete barriers and barbed wires installed along the avenue.
Reyes accused Aquino of cowering in fear of the protests on Monday.
“That is why he’s surrounding himself with these barriers,” he said.
Aquino’s fifth Sona comes almost a month after the Supreme Court declared parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. Aquino and his Cabinet members, specifically Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, have come under fire for their defense of the controversial and now defunct program.
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