The right to assembly and free speech are fundamental freedoms that must not be impeded, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) stressed on Monday.
CHR executive director Jacqueline de Guia issued the reminder following a memorandum released by the Manila city government reiterating the strict implementation of Batas Pambansa (BP) 880 or the Public Assembly Act, which prohibits gatherings without permit.
“While the Commission recognizes and defers to local mandates to ensure public safety, we remind state and law enforcement officials that peaceful assembly is a fundamental human right,” De Guia said in a statement.
“It is crucial for a flourishing democracy such as ours to listen to and address the grievances of the people,” she added.
BP 880 states that rallies or other gatherings without permit may only be held at government-designated freedom parks. In Manila, these are Plaza Miranda, Plaza Dilao, Plaza Moriones and Liwasang Bonifacio.
The Manila local government issued the reminded a day after several groups gathered outside the Commission on Elections office in Intramuros to question the integrity of the 2022 elections following the malfunctions of hundreds of vote counting machine during election day.
De Guia also cited the incident where Quezon City police allegedly stopped and interrogated some student athletes of the University of the Philippines on their way to training.
She said the CHR denounces any form of intimidation, harassment, and red-tagging of students and civilians in their exercise of civil liberties.
“To truly unite in the safeguarding of our peace and order, we must advocate and defend all Filipinos’ rights to freedom of expression,” De Guia said.
“We trust our incoming leaders, as fellow duty bearers, to respect, promote and fulfill the rights of all, especially the most disenfranchised,” she added.–LDF, GMA News