The local government of Quezon City has retracted its memorandum that allows rallies with permits to be held in the city, as the staging of President Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday (July 27) draws near.
In an advisory posted on the local government’s Facebook page Friday (July 24), it said that the move to ban public assemblies, including rallies during the SONA, is in compliance with an advisory issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) dated July 23.
The DILG advisory cited an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases resolution which prohibits mass gatherings during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“…the Quezon City Government, through the City Legal Department, would like to inform the public that all applications for permits to organize or hold public assemblies shall not be processed,” part of the advisory read.
“At the same time, those deemed issued because no action was taken after two days following the date of application, are in the same manner revoked,” it added.
In a memorandum dated July 20, a copy of which was obtained by the Manila Bulletin, Belmonte noted that the “city recognizes, supports, and upholds the constitutional right of the people to peaceably assemble and express their grievances” although such rights “must be judiciously exercised during the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic.”
The memo, which contained the guidelines for public assemblies, was intended for the general public, the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety, and all concerned sectors.
Belmonte also recognized rallies during SONAs as a “tradition” in the city in a recent press briefing, and thus allowed protest actions to be held.
Renato Reyes, progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) secretary general, said they withdrew their application for a rally permit, which they filed at Belmonte’s office early this week.
In a separate statement, he said, rallies will still continue in Quezon City during President Duterte’s SONA.
“Ang IATF guidelines ay hindi batas. Hindi ito mas mataas sa Konstitusyon at hindi dapat gamitin para labagin ang saligang karapatan ng mamamayan (The IATF guidelines are not a law. It is not higher than the constitution and should not be used to violate anyone’s rights).
No one should be arrested for the peaceful exercise of one’s constitutional rights,” Reyes said.