Press Release
April 29, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today warned city and municipal mayors against making a travesty of the law by refusing to act on applications for permits to hold protest rallies in their areas of jurisdiction.

He issued the warning in the light of the Supreme Courts decision voiding the Arroyo administrations calibrated preemptive response (CPR) rule which authorizes law enforcers to disperse rallies without mayors permit.

Pimentel said the mayors should act on the application one way to another so that in case it is disapproved, the applicant can take the necessary legal recourse.

Under the Public Assembly Act (Batas Pambansa 880), an application for rally permit is deemed automatically approved if the mayor fails to act on it within two days after it was filed.

Despite the presumption of approval of the permit, Pimentel lamented that it has become a practice by policemen to break up a street rally, no matter how peaceful it is, if the protesters could not present a written permit. Worse, he said, the mayor who refused to act on the application would usually tell the police no permit has been granted by his office.

It is the obligation of the mayors to explain why they have refused to grant the permit so that the parties concerned can appeal to the courts, the minority leader said.

Pimentel said law enforcement authorities should abide by the rule prescribed by BP 880 that the rally permit is automatically considered approved if no action is taken by the mayor within two days to prevent the unwarranted dispersal of protest rallies, that usually triggers violent clashes between the policemen and demonstrators.

The lone senator from Mindanao also debunked Malacañang s claim that the Supreme Courts verdict on the issue of CPR was a victory for the administration, dismissing it as a face-saving gesture for the rebuff it got from the high tribunal.

Pimentel said the courts decision was a clear repudiation of the administrations undemocratic policy of breaking up protest rallies by the simple expedient of making it difficult to secure permits from mayors who are subservient to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He reminded the policemen that their duty is not to disperse peaceful rallies but maintain peace and order during such mass action and protect the right of the people to peacefully assemble and petition the government for redress of their legitimate grievances.

Pimentel reminded the policemen that under BP 880 they should keep a 100-meter distance from the rallysts and they should display their nameplates and the police units to which they belong.

One of the members of the Batasang Pambansa which enacted the Public Assembly Act into law in 1984, Pimentel said the law envisions that all peaceful assemblies of the people for the redress of their grievances are legal and could not, therefore, be stopped dispersed, dispensed with or disbanded.

He said BP 880 provides that: 1. A permit is not indispensable for a peaceful activity to take place; 2. A permit is not necessary to make the activity legal; and 3. A permit is necessary only to maintain order during the activity and provide security to its participants.

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