The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday warned protesters that they would be arrested if they obstruct traffic and damage government property during their rallies.
At a press briefing, PNP officer-in-charge Police Lieutenant General Vicente Danao Jr. issued the warning when asked about his directive to policemen in light of more rallies anticipated in the days leading to the inauguration of President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
“Sabi ko nga, kung kinakailangan na paghuhulihin namin kayo dahil nakakatrapik na rin kayo at saka nakakasakit kayo ng ibang tao, lalo na't naninira kayo ng properties lalo na ng gobyerno, definitely the rule of law will be strictly implemented,” he said.
(Like what I said, if we need to arrest you because you are causing traffic obstruction, hurting other people, and destroying government properties, definitely the rule of law will be strictly implemented.)
Danao called the recent rallies protesting the results of the May 9 national and local elections “pointless.”
“I don't see where are you getting your records na sasabihin ninyong may dayaan. Eh paano magkakaroon ng dayaan diyan, parang very obvious naman yata kung sino ang mananalo diyan,” he said.
(I don't see where they are getting their information that there was cheating. How come there was cheating there when it seems very obvious who would win.)
In a statement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes hit Danao on his statement against protests and called the police actions as a “calibrated preemptive response.”
He pointed out that this response is already deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).
“The statement of General Danao against peaceful protests is a throwback to the ‘calibrated preemptive response’ era of Gloria Arroyo. The CPR was deemed unconstitutional by the SC,” he said.
Reyes said the police cannot violently disperse peaceful protesters even when they do not have rally permits or are outside the freedom park.
“The law is explicit. No person can be punished or held criminally liable for participating in or attending an otherwise peaceful assembly,” he said.
“The law also does not sanction the violent dispersal of peaceful rallies without permits. There is NOTHING in the BP 880 which says you can use truncheons and water cannons vs peaceful protesters even when they are outside freedom parks and have no rally permits,” he added.
Meanwhile, Danao said the PNP is already preparing for Marcos' inauguration as well as that of Vice President-elect Sara Duterte, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said the PNP has been coordinating with different focal persons to ensure the security of the two incoming officials.
“For the inauguration of both our president-elect and vice president-elect, definitely the PNP is ready to respond to any eventuality,” he said. —KBK, GMA News