Quezon City

Prosecutor subpoenas activists over SONA 2023 protest

James Patrick Cruz

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Prosecutor subpoenas activists over SONA 2023 protest

Militant groups march along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to protest ahead of President Marcos' 2nd State of the Nation Address, on July 24, 2023.

Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes says the Quezon City Police District was already informed that they had a permit from City Hall but it still filed a complaint

MANILA, Philippines – Acting on a complaint filed by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the City Prosecutor issued a subpoena to several members of the activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) for staging a protest during the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said in a tweet that their group received the subpoena on Friday, September 8.

The complaint was filed by the Quezon City Police Department Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit against 14 activists.

Reyes said the “harassment case is baseless” as the group had secured a permit to stage a protest from the Quezon City government.

The permit, signed by retired Police Brigadier General Elmo San Diego, head of the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety, and addressed to Bayan secretary general Raymond Palatino, allowed the group to march and gather along Commonwealth Avenue on July 24, 2023, from 8 am to 12 pm for the SONA protest.

“In line with this, the city interposes no objection on the aforementioned activity, provided that all guidelines imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease will be strictly observed and that the normal flow of traffic will not be impeded during the entire activity,” the permit, posted by Reyes on his X (formerly Twitter) account, reads.

In response to an inquiry from then-QCPD chief Police Brigadier General Nicolas Torre III on whether a permit had been issued, San Diego informed the QCPD on August 14, 2023 that the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety approved the application of Bayan’s Palatino.

This prompted Reyes to comment: “This is how malicious QCPD officials who filed a case vs Bayan ST [Southern Tagalog] members. They were already informed that a permit was issued to Bayan yet they still filed a criminal case. They know Bayan ST is our affiliate. Why? Because they sent the subpoena to our office address.”

Section 13 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 880 requires any leader or organizer of a public assembly to secure a written permit from the concerned office.

The respondents were required to appear at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City on September 26 and October 3.

Rappler asked the QCPD for comment but it has yet to respond as of posting. – Rappler.com

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