News & UpdatesIpe defends move to  scrap permit

Ipe defends move to  scrap permit

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Prayer rally-turned-political

Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Remollo has denied the statement of former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that the Mayor revoked the permit for the May 7 rally in Dumaguete because he was a “classmate of First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos”.

In a televised interview broadcast nationwide, the Mayor admitted that while he and the First Lady were indeed classmates at  the Ateneo Law School, he campaigned and voted for then Vice President Leni Robredo in the last elections.

He also clarified that he had supported President Duterte during his administration, even though he campaigned and voted for then Sec. Mar Roxas.

“I’m just sorry I could not welcome our guests but this was because of an issue with the organization in the local level,” he said.

Former President Duterte, members of his previous Cabinet, and some 500 of his supporters from other cities and municipalities staged a political rally last Tuesday in Dumaguete, demanding the resignation of President Marcos Jr., and criticizing moves to amend the Constitution, among other issues, despite the absence of a rally permit.

According to Rev. Ed Samson, applicant for the Mayor’s permit, their event was designed as a Prayer for Peace Rally, and was initially organized by the local chapter of the pro-Duterte mass movement Kilusang Pagbabago, and a group calling itself Banyan, spearheaded by former 3rd District Congressional aspirant Col. Rey Lopez.

“When we planned the prayer rally, I made sure there would be at least eight people who would offer prayers, to include a Muslim Imam,” Samson told the MetroPost.

He said at the time he applied for the permit, he was aware that the former President and other political figures would speak during the prayer rally, so he told his companions to keep reminding the speakers of the fact that this was a prayer rally.

As the date for the rally came closer, Samson said  his group decided to withdraw as local organizers because they could not agree with the national organization on some matters of principle, such as the sources of funds.

In that TV interview, the Mayor said the local group initially wanted to hold the prayer rally in the Pantawan.

The City, he said, normally gives out permits for prayer rallies so when Reverend Samson applied for one — without indicating that political figures, such as former President Duterte, would be speakers — he was granted approval on April 15.

However, four days before the rally, another person, Benjamin Villa of a group called KPLOI TAPS  [Kilusang Pagbabago Lead Organization Inc.-Transparency, Acountability, Peace, and Security] wrote the Dumaguete Chief of Police Lt. Col. Ronoel Fungo “asking for security” because of the presence of former national officials, such as former President Duterte, Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, former Sec. Harry Roque, former Executive Sec. Vic Rodriguez, and (Biliran) former Cong. Glenn Chong.

The Mayor said Chief of Police Fungo wrote him on May 3 about needing augmentation for the Police due to the magnitude of the expected number of participants, and especially because of the nature of the event, which is a political rally.

That letter eventually caused the immediate relief of Colonel Fungo as Dumaguete police chief, while the Philippine National Police Regional Office in Cebu sent over reinforcements.

The Mayor said it is not easy to plan for a visit of thousands of people, after the rally organizer said they were expecting 20,000 members to attend.

“When the City hosted some 6,000 Freemasons for their Annual Communication in Dumaguete last year, it took us two months to get police augmentation, and we also installed portalets, barricades, First Aid stations, ambulances — just to protect the people,” the Mayor recalled.

He said he decided to revoke the permit given to Reverend Samson’s group after he learned that the local organizers had distanced themselves from the rally because of internal issues.

He then required the KPLOI TAPS Coalition to apply for a new permit.

“We had to know the focal person for this activity, and who would be responsible for the event,” the Mayor said.

He said he then met with the Coalition rally organizers last Saturday to inform them they needed a new rally permit. The organizers, however, made it clear they will not apply for a new permit but will just use the permit granted to Reverend Samson.

The Mayor said he then advised the group to reset their rally, and coordinate with his office. “I told them, ‘You inform [this to] your visitors so you will not be embarrassed. Because of internal squabbles, they [visitors] might think they’re not welcome [here in Dumaguete].’”

The KPLOI TAPS then started announcing through social media they will hold their event at the Freedom Park fronting the Capitol,  but even by then, they had not yet applied for a permit from the Province either.

The group applied for rally permits at the Dumaguete Pantawan Park late Saturday evening, even while announcing that they do not need permits to hold a rally because it is allowed by the Constitution.

They also cited Batas Pambansa 880, or the Public Assembly Act of 1985 as their license to hold the “prayer rally” at the Freedom Park.

At the same time however, Villa of KPLOI-TAPS Coalition also wrote the Provincial government in the evening of May 6, asking for a permit to hold a “prayer rally” on May 7, barely 15 hours before the event.

Provincial Administrator Atty. Arthur Tolcidas informed the organizers that BP 880 actually provides that any activity at Freedom Park shall be governed by local ordinances, adding that Provincial Ordinance 14, series of 2016 imposes charges for the use of the Park.

He also informed them that as early as May 2, they had ordered the closure of Freedom Park beginning May 6 for maintenance and rehabilitation, in preparation for the May 17 centennial anniversary of the Capitol building.

The blessing of heavy equipment had also been previously scheduled for May 7, the day of the political rally.

Tolcidas then suggested that the rallyists, instead, hold their activity at the Dumaguete Quezon Park because that had been declared as the City’s “Freedom Park” by then Mayor Agustin Perdices, and that to his knowledge, there were no scheduled activities there for that day.

On the day of the political rally on May 7, the KPLOI TAPS frist went to the Freedom Park where they held a brief press conference before proceeding to Quezon Park, where the speakers took turns lambasting the national administration.

A policeman estimated the turnout at 500. (AP)

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Photo Caption: Some of the estimated 500 participants in the purported “prayer rally” last Tuesday in Dumaguete call for the resignation of President Bongbong Marcos, and accuse him of being a drug addict, even as  former President Duterte roared with his usual expletives against the Administration while addressing the crowd. Duterte also criticized local officials for denying their group a permit, as well as the use of the Freedom Park fronting the Capitol.  (Photo by Roy August Bustillo)

 

 

 

 

 

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