Palace not stopping march
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - March 8, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is not stopping today’s unity walk or the March for Justice for the 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force killed by Muslim rebels during an operation to arrest terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

But deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said march participants found committing illegal acts would be dealt with accordingly.

In an interview over radio dzRB, Valte also said the administration had nothing to do with text messages dissuading alumni of the Philippine National Police Academy from joining the protest march.

On Friday, Sr. Supt. Jerome Baxinela, president of the Camp Crame chapter of the PNPA Alumni Association Inc., sent text messages to fellow alumni urging them not to join today’s march.

“Lakan and Lakambini (male and female graduates of the PNPA) having weighed the pros & cons of the Sympathy Run on Sunday, realizing its effects, and putting premium to the interest of the PNP, I, as Crame Chapter president, urge all chapter members to desist from joining the said march,” read the text message from Baxinela, who belongs to PNPA Class 1986.

Baxinela said that while the intent of some alumni to join the march was noble, the present situation “does not warrant” their participation in today’s activities.

“We do not have anything to do with that (text message)...that they should not join...Remember that in any rally or demonstration – at least under the Aquino administration – we have never intervened, or we have never stepped in to ask them not to push through with it, because we recognize that these rallies are part of the democratic space that we share,” Valte pointed out.

Information reaching the Palace showed there would really be a unity walk today but Valte said she would not know “between and among the organizers” as to who would be joining.

Valte reiterated there might be groups who would take advantage of the unity walk to push their own selfish agenda.

There have been rumors of coup and destabilization moves against the Aquino government since the Mamasapano incident.

“Let us be wary of groups that might be taking advantage of the situation for their own personal motives and not really to condole or express solidarity with the families of the SAF 44,” Valte said.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo said on Friday that while the PNP had been supportive of the call for justice for the 44 SAF men, the so-called unity walk “should be done within the bounds of the law and rules and regulations of the PNP.”

“We don’t know yet the context of the unity walk, whether it’s protest action or any other form of protest,” he said.

“This is outside the PNP, though many of its members are reportedly planning to attend the event,” he added.

PNPA board chairman Tomas Rentoy III earlier said the peaceful march would mark the culmination of the 40-day period of mourning for the SAF heroes.

Rentoy, a retired police general, said simultaneous marches would be held in Metro Manila and other key cities and towns across the country. 


No permit

Unity marchers, however, will have to adjust their program of activities – at least in Quezon City where officials have revoked an earlier permit issued to march organizers.

Elmo San Diego, head of the city’s department of public order and safety, said they decided to revoke the rally permit due to information that some groups were planning to sow chaos during the march.

“(Quezon City Police District Director chief Superintendent) Joel Pagdilao made a strong recommendation to deny the request for a rally permit,” said San Diego.

“Mayor Herbert Baustista agreed to the recommendation,” he added.

According to San Diego, the city has no problem with the activity organized by the PNPA, saying they are confident that the group does not intend to cause disturbance by organizing the activity.

However, he said they have information that other groups are planning to instigate trouble.

“That is the concern of the police,” said San Diego.

The city official added that it would be up to the police to arrest organizers should they push through with the event even without a rally permit.

But San Diego – a former city police chief – said law enforcement officials would not usually arrest anyone if the activity remains peaceful.

“The police will always implement maximum tolerance during these kinds of activities,” he said.

Sr. Insp. Maricar Taqueban of the QCPD’s public information office said march organizers’ permit was cancelled after the police received reports that several militant groups would be joining the unity walk. – Janvic Mateo, Mike Frialde, Robertzon Ramirez


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