No protests allowed in Davao during Sona

Subscribe Now July 27, 2020 at 08:13am

PROTESTS during President Rodrigo Duterte's fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, July 27, 2020, will be prohibited in Davao City, the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) said.

DCPO Chief Kirby John Kraft told SunStar Davao in a phone interview on July 25 that the city respects protesters' right to address their grievances to the government. However, he said they will not allow any mass demonstration in any public places in the city, particularly in the Freedom Park in Roxas Avenue, a designated rally area.

Kraft said physical protests are considered mass gathering, a prohibited activity by the city, which could cause a transmission of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) virus.

"Ngayon na panahon ng pandemic, ipinagbabawal ang mass gathering. Kaya kami dito sa Davao City Police, i-implement lang namin kung ano ang nakasaad sa batas natin na bawal ang mass gathering (we are prohibiting mass gathering since we are currently in a pandemic. We, at the Davao City Police, will implement what is in the law)," Kraft said.

The police official warned progressive groups who will attempt to assemble that they will not hesitate to arrest them for violating the Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Archie Gamboa, in a previous SunStar Philippines article, appealed to militant groups to conduct online protest actions instead of physically converging in one place.

Gamboa said the PNP has to keep a balance between respect for the freedom of expression and their directive to implement the prohibition on mass gatherings to prevent the spread of Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.

Gamboa noted that the police have been exercising maximum tolerance during the previous protest actions held on the day that the President delivers the Sona.

This year, however, is different because of the pandemic, Gamboa said in a virtual press conference.

Meanwhile, Karapatan Secretary General Jay Apiag urged the DCPO to allow physical protest during the President’s Sona.

Apiag said that if he "truly respects the fundamental rights of the people," then he should allow them to conduct a "peaceful" assembly.

In return, he said they will strictly adhere to the minimum health protocol such as strict two-meter physical distancing, wearing of face masks and providing pocket alcohol to all those who will participate in the protest.

"We would like to remind Kirby Kraft that our constitutional right of the people of the right are still in place, even when there is a global health pandemic. And we assure him that health protocol will be followed in the course in the conduct of this physical, in time of the State of the Nation Address of President Duterte," Apiag said.

He said they are still waiting for other progressive groups' responses if they will push through with the physical protest on Monday.

But initially, Apiag said the majority of them are eyeing to participate in a physical set up.

Although he said they also considered their other members who are already senior citizens, and those immunocompromised, who might not be able to participate in the rally.

Apiag said they will consider an online protest, in case they will not be allowed to conduct a physical rally, which they had done previously during the enhanced community quarantine.

The group said they will raise, during the rally, how the government responded in the Covid-19 health crisis. They said they will also air their grievances to the government in its "failed" governance for the past four years, particularly in the rampant human rights violation committed under Duterte's administration.


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