PRO-7: Those who bring minors to martial law anniversary protests will be arrested
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) reminded members of the different militant groups in Cebu to exclude young children if they were planning to hold protests for the anniversary of the declaration of martial law.
The commemoration of the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines is set to be held on Thursday, September 21, 2023.
In line with this, police warned Cebu-based civil society groups on using children while holding demonstrations to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the martial law declaration.
PRO-7 exec’s warning to protesters
Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, the spokesperson of Police Regional Office Central Visayas (PRO-7), said that the police would not hesitate to arrest and file charges against individuals who would include minors in rallies.
On September 7, 2023, some minors were observed to be present during a rally held at a mall in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City where protestors called for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
According to Pelare, this kind of activities within huge crowds may cause possible trauma to young children, which is why they will be strictly monitoring possible demonstrations.
“Kung naay bata nga gi-apil sa during rallies, protests, and demonstrations, unya klaro kaayo nga naay intensyon nga gamiton ning bataa, unya nakadaot ni sa best interest sa bata, then we will file the necessary charges under Republic Act 7610,” the PRO-7 spokesperson said.
Republic Act 7610
(If there are children who will join during the rallies, protests, and demonstrations, and it is clear that there are intentions to use the children, and that will be bad for the best interest of the children, then we will file the necessary charges under Republic Act 7610.)
The Republic Act 7610 known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act,” aims to provide necessary protection for minors against such acts.
As of this writing, Pelare said that they had monitored one possible protest that might take place on Thursday.
Police will allow rallies but …
However, he said that if the sectoral groups would decide to hold a rally for the commemoration, the police would allow them to express their opinions as they had the freedom and right to do so.
Pelare said that the police, however, would make sure that everyone involved including the protestors and bystanders would remain safe during the activities.
“Ang among role sa PNP is to make sure nga while kining mga tawhana, maka-express sa ilang freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, sa ilang paghimo ani, wala say mga krimen nga nahitabo. Walay mga tawo nga nahasol,” he said.
(Our role at the PNP is to make sure that while these people can express their freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, in doing this, there is also no crimes that will happen. No person would be inconvenienced.)
No minors in rallies
The PRO-7 spokesperson said that they had observed that previous protests and demonstrations in Cebu had been generally peaceful as most groups were focused only on expressing their opinions and not causing trouble.
He also said that they would expect that the protests this time would also be peaceful and orderly as well.
“We expect that the same scenario will be seen during the Martial Law commemoration. Kung naa man gani mag-rally (if there are people who would rally), we hope that they will follow BP 880 or the Public Assembly Act,” he said.
The Batasang Pambansa 880 also known as The Public Assembly Act of 1985 is an act “ensuring the free exercise by the people of their right peacebly to assemble and petition the government for other purposes.”
Pelare further said that one of their security adjustments for possible rallies would be to make sure that no minors would be involved.
PRO-7: Secure permits for rallies
The police official also reminded possible protestors to refrain from causing any trouble, committing crimes, or disturbing bystanders during their demonstrations.
He said that they should also secure the necessary permits to be allowed to conduct their protests.
“Usa ni sa amoang pahinumdom sa atong mga kaigsuonan nga naay plano mag-rally, mag-demonstration, mag-protest — number one, we just follow the law. Apply [for] the necessary permit. Walay krimen nga buhaton. Nya dili magdala og mga bata because this is very traumatic for their children,” said Pelare.
(This is one of our reminders to our brothers who plan to hold a rally, who plan to hold a demonstration, who would hold a protest — number one, we just follow the law. Apply [for] the necessary permit. No crimes will be done. And they will not bring children with them because this is very traumatic for the children.)
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