Protester arrested for interrupting Duterte’s Independence Day speech

Rambo Talabong
Protester arrested for interrupting Duterte’s Independence Day speech
Francis Rafael is arrested after shouting 'Huwad na kalayaan!' (False freedom!) as President Rodrigo Duterte was about to deliver his speech in Kawit, Cavite

MANILA, Philippines – A man was arrested for interrupting the Independence Day speech of President Rodrigo Duterte in Kawit, Cavite.

Francis Rafael, a 20-year-old protester, was collared by cops on Tuesday, June 12, after he shouted “Huwad na kalayaan!” (False freedom!) as Duterte delivered his speech on the historic balcony of Emilio Aguinaldo’s house.

“The abovenamed suspect without permissions of the law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously disturb, interrupt public order at the said occasion,” the police report states.

Cops said Rafael will face a complaint for allegedly violating Article 153 of the Revised Penal Code, which prohibits the disturbance of official public gatherings.

He was the only person arrested from the crowd that heckled Duterte. Others, police said, were able to run away.

Seized from Rafael was a placard reading, “KAPAYAPAAN PARA SA LAHAT AT LAHAT PARA SA KAPAYAPAAN [NG] BAYAN” (Peace for all, and all for the peace of the nation).

The cops made the arrest despite Duterte himself saying that it was the right of the demonstrators to hold a protest. (READ: Duterte on Independence Day: Protect democracy, cherish PH sovereignty)

“Hayaan mo lang (Let it be)…. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and free expression. I will just advise the law enforcement to just deal with them peacefully and [follow] maximum tolerance,” Duterte said.

But for cops, the protesters may only invoke the rights mentioned by the President if they had secured a permit. They did not, according to Police Officer 2 Mark Joseph Arayata.

“Karapatan, pero kailangan may kaukulang permit. Pero wala silang maipakitang permit kaya natin siya kakasuhan,” Arayata told Rappler in a phone interview on Tuesday.

(They have rights, but they also need the proper permit [to rally]. But they weren’t able to show a permit, so we’re filing a case against him.) –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.