CEBU, Philippines – Cebu City police will bar people who are below 4 feet in height at the Bando Osmena-Pundok Kauswagan’s (BOPK) grand rally at the Cebu City Sports Center on Saturday, April 2.
This is the local opposition party’s first grand rally, and organizers expected over 20,000 participants to join the event. Vice presidential candidate Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III will be attending the rally.
Some supporters of BOPK have expressed concern over the police’s height requirement on social media. Even retired Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon said in a tweet that it was “discriminatory.”
Police Lieutenant Colonel Wilbert Parilla, deputy operations director of the Cebu City Police Office, told Rappler that they are only looking out for the safety of civilians, especially children who might be brought to the event.
“The 4 feet policy, agreed with the organizers and the government agencies, is for the safety, not for the discrimination of, but for the safety of every participant,” he said.
Guanzon explained further in a video sent to Rappler by BOPK legal counsel Amando Virgil Ligutan that the policy should exclude adults who are below 4 feet in height.
“Wala namang magdadala ng bata doon. ‘Di naman pwede na bawalan mga 16 years old eh kung gusto nila mag participate, gusto nila makinig, that’s also their right even if they are not yet voters,” Guanzon said.
(Nobody is going to bring a child there. You also can’t block 16-year-olds if they want to participate and listen, because that’s also their right even if they are not yet voters.)
According to Ligutan, the policy sets a dangerous precedent. “So what’s next? A height requirement before our people can vote on election day?” he said.
Despite this, Parilla said that they would still be willing to accommodate young participants and even provide a designated area where they can be secured.
In a previous event attended by candidates of the administration party, Partido Barug PDP-Laban, videos circulated online that showed stampedes, and individuals fainting inside the sports complex. Police said there were around 25,000 attendees, and 75,000 waiting outside the venue.
Parilla denied that any stampede happened and said the police are more careful now in coordinating events that attract huge crowds. – Rappler.com
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