SONA 2020

SONA rallies allowed inside U.P. campuses – DILG

Pia Ranada
'But if we see no indication of compliance, we will be forced to arrest them and make them accountable to local ordinances,' says PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and police clarified that protests and rallies for President Rodrigo Duterte’s upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) will still be allowed inside the University of the Philippines (UP) campuses.

This is after Quezon City announced it is not allowing SONA protests that usually take place along Commonwealth Avenue in the city after the DILG reminded them of a ban on mass gatherings.

In a message to Rappler, DILG spokesman Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said this is because of a rule that exempts campuses of government universities from requirements for the holding of such gatherings,

“Yes, we will allow in UP campus because under BP 880, no permit is required for rallies and demonstrations in government educational institutions provided that they comply with the rules and regulations of the UP administration,” said Malaya on Saturday, July 25.

BP 880 is Batasang Pambansa Bilang 880 or “The Public Assembly Act of 1985,” signed, ironically, by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Its Section 4 states that among places where a permit to rally is not needed is the “campus of a government-owned and operated educational institution.”

Other exceptions are a “freedom park” duly established by law or ordinance or a private property, the owner of which has given consent.

Malaya, however, said participants of the rally should still observe health protocols against COVID-19, like mask-wearing and physical distancing.

Philippine National Police spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac said the same thing.

Lahat po na talagang hindi magpapapigil na dadalo sa kilos protesta ay doon lang po magtungo sa UP campus kung saan pinapayagan naman po sila basta pagdating po doon sa UP campus, panatilihin po ninyo ang pagtugon, pagtupad sa minimum health standards,” he said during a virtual press briefing on Saturday.

(For all those who can’t be stopped from joining a protest, go to UP campus where they are allowed but when they get to UP, they should observe minimum health standards.)

‘Maximum tolerance’

Banac reminded those who wish to hold rallies that this won’t be allowed outside UP campuses because of the resolution of the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases stressing a ban on mass gatherings in general community quarantine areas, which includes Metro Manila.

He said police will exercise “maximum tolerance” during the rallies.

“But if we see no indication of compliance, we will be forced to arrest them and make them accountable to local ordinances,” said Banac.

The PNP official encouraged protesters to express their dissent online instead.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in defense of the IATF-EID’s ban on protests, said that while the right of people to assemble to express grievances is protected by the Constitution, it can be legally regulated.

“Its lawful exercise, however, such as with respect to the time and place where it may be carried out, is subject to reasonable regulation by the authorities in the interest of public order, health, and safety,” he said on Saturday. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.