Tuesday August 21, 2018

Protesters disrupt June 12 rites; 1 arrested

CAVITE. President Rodrigo Duterte leads the flag-raising ceremony during the 120th Philippine Independence Day celebration at the Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 2018. (PNA Photo)

(UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, June 12, was about to deliver a speech for the 120th Independence Day celebration in Kawit, Cavite when protesters shouted his name, calling him "fascist" and seeking his ouster.

The rallyists braved the bad weather just to express their dissent against Duterte at the annual ceremony commemorating the Philippines' independence from Spanish colonialism.

Just as when the President was about to begin his speech, protesters briefly stopped him as they screamed: “Huwad na Kalayaan! Duterte patalsikin! Pasista! (Fake Independence! Oust Duterte! Fascist!)”

The demonstrators were immediately nabbed, but the President told the policemen to just "deal with them peacefully and [with] maximum tolerance."

"Our Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and free expression," Duterte said. "Just let them be. It's a freedom of speech. You can have it. That's okay. I will understand."

Police, however, are set to file charges against one of the protesters, 20-year-old Francis Couichie, for disturbance of peace under Article 153 of the Revised Penal Code.

“Sa freedom of expression, lusot sila pero sa violation ng Article 153 of the Revised Penal Code, hindi,” said Senior Superintendent William Segun, Cavite Police Provincial Office director.

(They may have the right to freedom of expression, but they are liable for violation of Article 153 of the Revised Penal Code.)

Couichie, a resident of MH Del Pilar St, Barangay San Joseph in Biñan, Laguna, was among the over 10 other protesters who heckled Duterte shortly after he started delivering his speech at the historical window of the Aguinaldo Shrine.

Segun said they failed to monitor the protesters because they mixed with the audience.

Couichie was placed under the custody of the Cavite Police Provincial Office for proper disposition and documentation.

It was the first time Duterte, as the highest official in the land, led the celebration of the country's 120th Independence Day at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite.

To recall, the President had to skip the 119th Independence Day celebration at Rizal Park in Manila last year to focus more on pressing issues hounding the Islamic City of Marawi, which at that time was still under siege by pro-Islamic State terrorists.

Duterte, in a keynote speech for the 120th anniversary of the Philippines' independence, acknowledged that the Filipinos' "love of country" continues to prevail.

"Today, we remember our past filled with optimism for a future that we can proudly bequeath to the next generations of Filipinos," the President said.

"Indeed, the story of how our forebears fought for our sovereignty and established a Filipino nation shall forever inspire us to cheirsh the freedoms that we enjoy today," he added.

Despite the nation's liberty from any foreign control, Duterte appealed to his fellow countrymen to help him combat the "modern challenges" of poverty, corruption, environmental degradation, terrorism, criminality and illegal drugs.

He emphasized that the problems currently encountered by the country can only be solved, if the Filipino people would support his administration.

"Sadly, more than a century since our heroes liberated (the Philippines) from foreign subjugation, our nation still has to face enemies that attack from within," he said.

"I cannot do it alone. At this crucial juncture in our history, we ed to draw strength from the lessons of our past to ensure that these ills do not cause any more damage to our future,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)