Guevarra: Peaceful assembly a right regardless of political beliefs, affiliation

Guevarra: Peaceful assembly a right regardless of political beliefs, affiliation
Tension arose after militant groups tried to go in front of the Commission on Human Rights along Commonwealth Avenue on May 25, 2022 to stage a protest rally and oppose the canvassing of the House of the Representative in Batasan, Quezon City.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:04 p.m.) — The Constitution guarantees the right of peaceful assembly, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday after the Philippine National Police voiced a preference for allowing pro-Marcos rallyists near the inauguration of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and keeping protesters away.

Police Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr., PNP officer in charge until a new chief is appointed, said earlier this week that he would be willing to allow rallyists closer to the inauguration venue at the National Museum in Manila if they are pro-Marcos.

"The right to peaceful assembly, regardless of one's political beliefs or affiliation is guaranteed by the constitution," Guevarra told reporters Wednesday, adding however, that that right can be subject to "reasonable regulation" to ensure peace and order.

Included in that regulation, he said, is the need to seek a permit to hold rallies and protests. Activities held in designated freedom parks are allowed even without a permit.

"As long as their statements do not constitute an actionable offense, such as inciting to sedition or oral defamation, rallyists enjoy freedom of expression," he also said.

In a separate statement, the Commission on Human Rights said it was concerned about Danao's statement and stressed constitutional freedoms "are meant to be enjoyed by all—regardless of whether they express dissent or support, may it be spoken or in any other form."

It added that "[a]s fellow duty bearers, CHR reminds our government leaders and authorities that criticism or dissent is part of a vibrant and functioning democracy."

The commission also said that protesters should not resort to violence or harm.

FROM INTERAKSYON: PNP reminded of constitutional rights amid remarks favoring pro-Marcos rallies on inauguration day

Danao, speaking about security preparations for the June 30, suggested that access to the inauguration site would be based on what attendees would be saying.

"Well, kung ang isisigaw mo naman eh 'Mabuhay si Bongbong Marcos,' eh di ilalapit pa kita siguro, wala tayong problema roon. So sa mga nagra-rally at sinisigaw niyo na ‘mabuhay ang bagong presidente’ eh 'di okay, magsama-sama tayo dyan," he said.

(Well, if you are going to shout "Long live Bongbong Marcos", then I will allow you to come near, we have no problem. So, if you are rallying and you are shouting "Long live the new president", then, okay, we'll be there together)

He said protesters would be kept away to keep from distracting attention from the inauguration.

"Eh sabi ko nga, we all have the freedom of expression, tama ‘yan, pero but if it is for the government wala po tayong problema d’yan," Danao also said.

(Like I said, we all have the freedom of expression. That's correct. But if it is for the government, then we have no problem there).


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