No permit, no rally policy ‘unconstitutional’-A A +A
Friday, March 1, 2013
DAVAO -- Militant leaders on Friday described as unconstitutional the "no permit, no rally" policy that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said will be enforced by the City Government.
Several local officials in Davao, however, supported Duterte's decision, saying the policy should have long been implemented.
In a text message, Juland Suazo, spokesperson for Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, said such policy is a "step backward to our democratic gains after Martial Law period."
He said the right to peaceably assemble is stated in the Bill of Rights.
The Article III, Section 4 provides that: "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."
"Let the people march and speak out. We are not under Martial Law, are we? We should remind Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio that Davao is one of the significant cities that fought hard against the fascist dictatorship and for the restoration of democracy," he said.
"In fact, Davao's contributions to the struggle are always presented to the people every Araw ng Dabaw," he added.
Duterte-Carpio said Thursday that the City Government will release guidelines on "no rally, no permit" policy, following the scuffle during the dispersal of the picket in front of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office in Davao.
The protesters, numbering to more than a thousand, also earlier ransacked the DSWD office and looted some relief goods.
"Kay ilaha tumong media mileage showing violence. No permit, no rally, assembly, etc. will be strictly enforced from hereon," the mayor said.
But Sheena Duazo, of Bayan, said the policy is a "crying shame to the so-called democracy that the Edsa people power had supposedly restored."
"As a lawyer, the mayor should know that such is unconstitutional. And to say that it is not unconstitutional is a circumvention of the essence of the law on the civil and political rights of the people," Duazo said.
Suazo also said that the right to assemble, which is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and is not subject to prior restraint, may not be unconditioned upon the prior issuance of a permit or authorization from government authorities.
He cited a court ruling on the case Reyes vs Bagatsing, 125 SCRA 553, that "if the assembly is to be held in a public place, a permit for the use of such place, and not the assembly itself, may be validly required. But the power of local officials in this regard is merely one of the regulation, not prohibition."
"So dili pwede nga ipagbawal ang rally as long as it is peaceful," he said.
In text messages on Friday, Duterte-Carpio said that Suazo and Duazo are "in the twilight zone."
"Juland and Sheena are typical specimens of people with nothing to do. They talk and convince themselves they are correct. And talk, and talk, and talk. And dream," she said.
She pointed out that Suazo is "masquerading as a Supreme Court justice as if its Halloween season."
"My best advice to him is to sit down and read law books and jurisprudence for four years and pass the bar so that he can intelligently talk about the Constitution. He's just a paranoid boy mumbling around sentences he read from a tabloid," the city mayor said.
Duterte-Carpio added that "Juland who is in a perpetual state of sleep, is now in the twilight zone. He is commenting in something that I'm sure he hasn't read because the guidelines have not been released. This is the typical problem seen in people talking in their sleep."
The mayor also told Duazo: "For what is to comment if you don't know what you are talking about? While you were sleeping Sheena, I checked and found out that lo and behold, no guidelines out from my office as of today, for what is to talk if you are not understood by the few who is listening to you?"
She said her legal team is now polishing the guidelines for the new rule and they will be released next week.
But while the guidelines have yet to be released, local officials in Davao Region have expressed support for Duterte-Carpio's decision.
"That should be the appropriate action. We are studying also of passing an ordinance on no permit, no rally policy," said Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy.
"I think the Davao City Government is merely channeling and giving order to how our people will express themselves through a ‘permit-to-rally’ policy. We have every faith that the Davao City leadership will continue to uphold the safety and protection of its residents, and in so doing, will balance our people's right of expression. We would also like to point out that even as there is a balance to be struck between the interest of order and the safety of the general public, and that of our citizens who wish to demonstrate, there are also other avenues by which expression can be freely made. For freedom parks, demonstrators can hold and make their statements without need of a permit or intervention from the City Government," said Compostela Valley Representative Maricar Zamora.
"I totally agree with the city's stand/policy. The problem stems from the inability or inefficiency of the agencies to distribute the goods. It's not the people of Davao City suffering but the people of the two provinces. Why bring the problem to the city," Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat said.
For Davao City Police Office Director Ronald dela Rosa, the policy “would prevent a repeat of DSWD stand-off occurrences in the future.”
"We cannot be too lenient from now on,” he said.
Colonel Leopoldo Galon of the Eastern Mindanao Command echoed Dela Rosa’s statement, saying: "For a very long time, Davao City LGU has been lenient in dealing with these militant groups. Inabuso tuloy. No permit, No rally? Noon pa dapat!"
"As a private citizen mayor Sara is correct. We still have freedom park? That's where permit is not needed. This is to preserve peace and order. Right?" former House Speaker Prospero Nograles said. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 02, 2013.