Palace: No suppression of Aquino heckler's freedom of expression
MANILA, Philippines – The government had no intention to suppress freedom of expression when authorities arrested a student who heckled President Benigno Aquino III in the middle of his Independence Day speech in Naga City on June 12, a Palace official said.
In an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, June 14, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte debunked the claim of youth activists that the administration is subduing people who speak up against it. (READ: Aquino vows due process in pork scam)
“It’s not true. We let people join protests and movements. We had demonstrations on Independence Day and no one was detained,” Valte said, when asked to comment on the youth activists' claim.
She added that the Philippine National Police (PNP) only arrested the 19-year-old psychology major from Ateneo de Naga University to ensure peace and order.
On June 12, Pio Mijares was detained after disrupting Aquino while he was delivering his speech. “Patalsikin ang pork barrel king! Walang pagbabago sa Pilipinas! (Oust the pork barrel king! There’s no change in the country!)” he shouted, some 40 meters away from the President.
After 32 hours of detention, Mijares was finally released from jail on June 13.
Mijares, who is a member of Anakbayan, is facing two criminal charges –disturbing public order and assaulting a person of authority. Anakbayan paid an P8,000-bail so he can be released.
Valte clarified that it was not the Presidential Security Group (PSG) but the PNP who filed charges against Mijares.
“The PSG did not file charges according to commander Raul Ubando. It was the local police who pressed charges and it was not because they were suppressing his freedom of speech,” Valte said.
Youth Act Now and Kabataan Partylist condemned the arrest saying Mijares was only exercising his right to free speech. The League of Filipino Students (LFS) also saluted Mijares for “fearlessly dismantling the pork king’s lies.”
On June 12, a various groups held demonstrations in Liwasang Bonifacio and Kartilya ng Katipunan against the pork barrel scam and what they called the Aquino government’s “alarming” response to it.
The pork barrel scam involves government officials who were allegedly pocketing government funds through fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Three senators have already been indicted for graft and plunder charges. – Rappler.com