QC gov’t allows pro, anti-admin demonstrators near SONA venue

QC gov’t allows pro, anti-admin demonstrators near SONA venue

By Rjhay E. Laurea

File photo of an anti-administration SONA rally during ex-President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s SONA. (Photo courtesy of The Summit Express).

MANILA — The Quezon City government will now allow pro and anti-administration demonstrators to conduct their State of the Nation Address-related activities near Batasang Pambansa.

President Bongbong Marcos is set to deliver his first SONA on Monday (July 25) at the House of Representatives in Batasan Hills, Quezon City.

Acting on the directive of Mayor Joy Belmonte, key administrators from the Quezon City Local Government — notably officials from the Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS), the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (QCESU), and the Task Force on Transport and Traffic Management — met with QCPD District Director PBGen Remus Medina and DILG QC Director Manny Borromeo Friday afternoon, to discuss the appeal for reconsideration submitted by Bayan regarding rally permits for the upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Earlier in the morning, the city officials met with Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr., Obet de Castro, Atty. Carlos Montemayor Jr. (National Union of Peoples Lawyers), Sanlakas leader Flor Santos and Atty. Jose Pedrosa, and Lieu Razos of the Philippine Build Better Movement (PBBM).

The focal point of the discussion was how to uphold the fundamental constitutional right to freedom of peaceful assembly and free speech, while simultaneously ensuring public order and safety.

As a result of these dialogues, the local government has decided to allow progressive groups to conduct their march and assembly along Commonwealth Avenue (eastbound) up to the corner of Tandang Sora Avenue while the PBBM and allied groups will be allowed to conduct their program along Interim Batasan Pambansa (IBP) Road near Sinagtala Street, Barangay Batasan Hills.

The city government will suspend classes at all levels on Monday as a courtesy to President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr.’s first SONA, and to avoid inconvenience to students who may find transportation difficult.

Quezon City-based businesses are likewise highly encouraged to do the same, or adopt work-from-home arrangements, in order to ease mobility requirements and congestion.

The city government also reminded organizers of the activities to follow minimum health protocols, such as wearing face masks, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as to discipline their ranks and finish their activities on the agreed time.

For their part, the PNP has agreed to exercise maximum tolerance throughout the day’s activities.

At first, QC-DPOS chief Elmo San Diego denied Bayan’s permit application and referred them to freedom parks. However, the group called on the attention of Mayor Belmonte, who was attending an international conference abroad when the application for the permit was submitted.

On Thursday, Belmonte, amid being out of the country, instructed concerned officials to review Bayan’s application. (ai/mtvn)

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