'Walang usap-usap': Protesters outside UP will be arrested, NCRPO chief says

Franco Luna - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Metro Manila police will be deploying plainclothes elements in and around Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, a "non-protest zone" where protests and other mass gatherings are prohibited, to arrest any protesters who hold demonstrations, its regional director who also violated quarantine rules said. 

"We won't set them free just like that anymore, just to show them that we mean business," Metro Manila's top cop said in Filipino at a press conference Monday morning. 

"No discussion. If anyone brings out a placard, they're arrested right away," Sinas also said, adding that protesters will be asked to leave.

Those who refuse, he said, will be brought to Quezon City Police District headquarters at Camp Tomas Caringal aboard the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology's mobile detention van.

Holding mass gatherings, like a birthday party for example, is prohibited during the general community quarantine.

'We will arrest you'

At his press briefing last Monday, July 20, Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, chief of the national police, asked the public to hold their SONA protests online instead but promised that the police would practice "maximum tolerance."

But the country's top cop held a different tone at his press briefing on Monday. 

"The IATF says that gatherings should be not more than ten [people]... once you conglomerate and you number to ten, no more questions asked, we will arrest you," Gamboa said Monday morning. 

He added that repeat violators would be charged with violating Republic Act No. 11332.

Police SONA at Camp Karingal
Quezon City Police in Camp Karingal accounts Task Force Bantay a day ahead before the 5th State of the Nation Address on July 27, 2020 of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 26, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

The national police has often used the violation of social distancing rules, along with the earlier law, to arrest protesters despite Sinas himself having violated those rules unscathed. 

The PNP has also directed protesters to proceed to the UP campus instead, where protests are allowed.

Past protests that were held online and at the UP campus, though, also saw protesters getting arrested and harassed. 

What do police guidelines say?

The PNP's own operational procedures urge officers to practice maximum tolerance multiple times (Rule 25.1 and Rule 28.6) while its Use of Force Continuum says that light force should be applied only when firm language and verbal directives fail.

Ethical standards that officers of the law are expected to adhere to include a commitment to democracy, public service, non-partisanship, and respect for human rights. The agency's doctrine is a public document that anyone can access. 

According to Know Your Rights: A Citizen’s Primer on Law Enforcement, an official resource and public document that is available on the PNP's own website:

"In conducting official police operations, basic requirements prescribe that all officers be in complete uniform with an ID and nameplate, be led by a commissioned officer and be on board a marked PNP vehicle."

Rule 25 of the Revised PNP Operational Procedures, a document of the same kind as the latter, reads the following:

The PNP shall not interfere with the holding of a public assembly...No public assembly with a permit shall be dispersed. However, when a public assembly becomes violent, the civil disturbance management contingents may disperse such public assembly.

No arrest of any leader, organizer, or participant shall be made unless he violates during the assembly a law, statute, or ordinance...Respect for human rights and equal treatment and protection for everybody shall be strictly observed; and PNP personnel shall observe maximum tolerance

Police are instructed to observe maximum tolerance in all dispersal operations as far as rallies and demonstrations are concerned. 

A civil disturbance management (CDM) contingent shall also be in prescribed uniform and may not carry with them firearms, as only in the event of violence, threat of violence, and deliberate destruction of property (at which point the Ground Commander shall issue a warning that a dispersal will be implemented should the activity continue) may anti-riot devices such as tear gas, smoke grenades, water cannons, and other similar apparatuses be used. 

During another protest held at the University of the Philippines campus, police used Batas Pambansa 880, a Marcos-era law which includes a “no permit, no rally” provision, in justifying the filing of cases against protesters.  

As early as 2006, lawyers and advocates have said it clamps down on civil liberties. — Video from NCRPO PIO; Video editing by Philstar.com/Erwin Cagadas



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 27, 2020 - 4:48pm

A thread of events and developments in the lead-up to President Duterte's fifth State of the Nation Address. (Photo shows 2019 SONA via Presidential Photo)

July 27, 2020 - 4:48pm

Metro Manila cops seizing protest materials is outside the scope of their powers.

This the position of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, reacting to police activity in approaching attendees of a Catholic Mass inside Quiapo Church in Manila earlier today.

“If the contents merely express a position on public issues, such as one’s stand against the [Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020], written on placards or streamers, the same constitute a lawful exercise of one’s freedom of speech or expression protected by the Constitution.” Read the Philstar.com exclusive report here.

July 27, 2020 - 3:56pm

In a photo released by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, members of President Duterte's Cabinet are seen gathered in one room at the House of Representatives.

July 27, 2020 - 2:23pm

The Child Rights Netowrk, an alliance of groups and agencies for children's rights legislation, calls on Congress to also make sure children are protected from the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

"Amid the intensifying onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, ample focus should also be given on the plight of Filipino children, now comprising 43 million of the population based on the projections of the Philippine Statistics Authority. Around 31% or almost one in three Filipino children—roughly 13.4 million children—belong to families living in poverty," CRN says.

"It is therefore imperative that the executive and legislative branches of government should up the ante in ensuring that their survival, rights, welfare, and development are safeguarded amid the pandemic."

Among the legislation that the network hopes Congress will focus on are free, responsive and inclusive birth registration, ending online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC), and raising the age to determine statutory rape to 16 years old from 12.

It says the current law "implies that an adult can have sex with a 12-year-old and claim it was consensual, a dangerous assumption especially in the time of this pandemic, when children have become more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation."

July 27, 2020 - 1:55pm

Although several people supposed to attend the State of the Nation Address have tested positive for COVID-19, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver the address as scheduled.

That may yet change, and the Presidential Communications Operations Office said Sunday that an alternate plan for the address is in place.

Click here for real-time updates on the SONA

July 27, 2020 - 1:20pm

Fisherfolk group Pamalakaya calls out President Rodrigo Duterte for his "downright treason" for failure to uphold national sovereignty against Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap points out that the president never expressed even a mild concern on the 14 Filipinos who went missing after their boat collided with a Chinese ship in the vicinity waters of Occidental Mindoro.

"Duterte’s rule of impunity that favors China gives other foreign vessels a license to violate the rights of Filipino fishermen in our territorial waters. More than a year after F/B Gem-Ver’s fate, on the midnight of June 27, the F/V Liberty Cinco was rammed by a Chinese crew on a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship, and the 14 Filipino crew were not rescued and remained missing exactly a month now," Hicap says in a statement.


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