By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
Human rights lawyer and activist Neri Colmenares on June 12, Friday, said that it is “discriminatory” to call holding protests during the pandemic as irresponsible because doing so is a right that people must uphold.
During an Independence Day “mañanita” protest at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, Colmenares said that staging protests is just like paying your bill at payment centers or going to the markets, where “there is also mass gathering.”
“Alam mo discriminatory sila dyan kasi syempre pag magbayad ka [ng bills] mass gathering din ‘yan…pag palengke, mass gathering din… pero kailangan,” the lawyer said.
[Translation: You know, it’s discriminatory to call it such, because when you’re paying bills or going to the markets, those are also mass gatherings. But you still have to do them because they are necessary.]
“Di naman nila pwede sabihin na mas mahalaga na magbayad sila ng [bills] kesa mag exercise ka ng freedom mo [They cannot say that paying bills is more important than exercising your freedom],” he added.
Colmenares said that protesters who joined Friday’s gathering at UP were observing quarantine protocols and “maintaining health standards,” so they were responsible with the actions they took despite the possible spread of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
For Colmenares, speaking out is important, especially during this time.
“Pinakita lang nila [protesters] ang tapang at resistance at pagmamahal sa bayan [They just showed their courage, resistance and love for the country],” he added.