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BAYAN to file criminal charges if PNP disrupts peaceful SONA protests

Activists vowed to file criminal charges against the police if it will arrest peaceful protesters on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25.

In a social media post, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr said peaceful protesters cannot be arrested even if they have not secured a permit from a local government unit (LGU).

Reyes was reacting to statements by the Philippine National Police (PNP) it will close off Commonwealth Avenue from rallies and will only allow protests at the Quezon Memorial Circle and at the University of the Philippines, several kilometers away from the House of Representatives (HoR) where Marcos will deliver his first SONA.

In a press conference at the Quezon City Police District headquarters in Camp Karingal last Tuesday, PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr declared the entire stretch of Commonwealth Avenue as a no-rally zone.

The avenue is the traditional site of protest rallies during presidential SONAs since the post-Marcos Sr era, except in 2016 and 2017 when President Rodrigo Duterte allowed the rallies on Batasan Road where the HoR is located.

Those years saw less traffic jams on Commonwealth Avenue. Subsequent years saw the rallies return to the country’s widest avenue until Duterte’s last SONA last year, however.

‘Worn-out scare tactics’

In his press conference, Danao said, “As of now, we will only allow [rallies on]…freedom parks. This is to prevent the SONA from being hampered.”

The police also announced it will activate Task Force Manila Shield that will implement security operations to address various alleged threats.

The PNP said there will checkpoints and deployment of police officers at government offices and other vital installations.

In an apparent show of force, the PNP also declared it will deploy at least 22,000 police officers, soldiers and other personnel from other government agencies and force multipliers on Marcos’ SONA.

Reyes however criticized the PNP plan, saying these are “worn out scare tactics.”

‘How democracy should work’

“The PNP wants to show the world it is a human rights violator. The ‘illegal assembly’ raps police file against protesters are usually dismissed at the prosecutor level and even the courts because these have no basis,” Reyes said.

Reyes added that such police paranoia is the reason why the Congress of the United States of America denied aid to the PNP because of its “terrible [human] rights record.”

In an earlier post, Reyes said there are reasons why citizens stage protest actions during SONA.

‘[It is] annual occasion for the people to air their grievances and press government to act on their most pressing concerns. We thus take exception to the comments made by the PNP [deputy director for operations Maj. Gen.] Val de Leon telling people not to protest and to simply ‘monitor’ what Marcos, Jr. will do for the next six years of his term,” Reyes said.

Reyes said de Leon again displayed a narrow understanding of how democracy should work.

“All have the right to be heard, including critics of Mr. Marcos. Those who disagree with Mr. Marcos and are opposed to his policies have the right to protest government and demand redress of their grievances,” the BAYAN leader explained.

“What General de Leon seems to be suggesting is for people to simply stay at home and watch TV and give up their democratic interests. This will not happen,” he added.

Reasons to protest

Reyes said that rising prices, runaway inflation, low wages, job losses, crushing debt, deteriorating agriculture, human rights violations, corruption and loss of sovereignty are the pressing issues they want to present during their protest action on Monday.

“Last we checked, all these issues remain and thus provide the reason why people take to the streets to raise their just demands. We have crafted a People’s Agenda which we will bring to the SONA rallies, submit to the lawmakers and other government institutions. These measures seek to provide short-term and long-term solutions to the crisis. We aim to fight for these measures,” Reyes said.

Reyes denied that their traditional annual protest is a threat to public safety as the police alleges and are mere peaceful expressions of dissent.

“What is the PNP so afraid of? Why is it so paranoid that it seeks to surround Marcos, Jr. with 21,000 security personnel? Why the Martial Law mentality?” Reyes asked.

Who grants rally permits?

Reyes said they have already applied for permit with the Quezon City government last July 15 to hold their rally along Batasan Road in order not to cause traffic jams along Commonwealth Avenue.

Under the Marcosion edict Batas Pambansa 880 released in 1985, the permit is deemed granted if not acted upon by the local government unit five days after its official filing.

Reyes reminded the PNP that it is the mayor who has the authority to grant rally permits or to carefully explain for denial.

“Any attempt by the PNP to disrupt the protest would be a violation of the law,” Reyes added.

The BAYAN leader said they will actively exercise their Constitutional right to peaceful protest, “despite the repression being imposed by the PNP and the Marcos regime.”

“It is important the true state of the nation be heard, as a counterpoint to the lies and disinformation about the country’s situation,” Reyes said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

BAYAN welcomes Duterte’s veto of SIM card and social media registration bill

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto of the SIM (subscriber identity module) and social media registration bill, calling the controversial proposal a dangerous measure.

Bayan said the bill will undermine privacy and will create a chilling effect on consumers and social media users.

“We welcome the veto of the SIM card registration bill even as we continue to point out state-sponsored attacks on privacy are happening even without the SIM card registration measure,” BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Malacañan Palace announced Friday that Duterte vetoed the bill that would require individuals to register their ownership of a SIM card and use their real names when creating social media accounts.

“The President has decided to veto the consolidated Senate Bill No. 2395/House Bill No. 5793, which seeks to mandate the registration of all SIM cards and social media accounts, with the purpose of deterring electronic communication-aided crimes,” communications secretary and acting Presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar said in a statement Friday.

“The President noted that the inclusion of social media providers in the registration requirement was not part of the original version of the bill and needs a more thorough study,” Andanar said.

He added that Duterte similarly found that “certain aspects of state intrusion, or the regulation thereof, have not been duly defined, discussed, or threshed out in the enrolled bill, with regard to social media registration.”

The President was “constrained to disagree with the inclusion of social media in the measure (as it) may give rise to a situation of dangerous state intrusion and surveillance threatening many constitutionally protected rights,” Andanar further said.

Reyes, in a rare instance of agreeing with Duterte, pointed out that the proposed law is a form of state surveillance on the people and does not deter crime.

‘Weaponized social media’

But the activist leader pointed out that the government has “weaponized” social media and has attacked citizens online.

“On the issue of the proliferation of anonymous troll accounts, this must be addressed first by government dismantling its own troll machinery used against legitimate dissent by the people,” Reyes said.

A big part of the problem is government itself as it benefits directly and indirectly from nefarious online activities, he added.

He also demanded that government must address the spate of Distributed Denial of Service attacks on the websites of human rights defenders and the media.

“The government has not investigated these DDoS attacks which are happening so dangerously close to the May 9 elections,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lawyers, activists hail ICC decision to investigate Duterte’s war on drugs

Neri Colmenares, a lawyer for the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK) in the Philippines, hailed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to initiate investigations on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

In his reaction to the ICC’s decision Wednesday night, Colmenares said justice may be near for the victims, estimated to be between 8,000 and 30,000.

“This ICC decision to investigate the EJKs in the Philippines is a major step to justice! The families of thousands of EJK victims have long asked for the accountability of the killers. Malapit na po!” Colmenares said.

The former Bayan Muna Representative serves as lawyer for the group Rise Up for Life and for Rights that was among those who filed complaints with the ICC in 2018.

In earlier interviews, Colmenares said at least seven families have identified police officers involved in the killing of suspected anti-drug operations and have resolved to press charges before the international tribunal despite threats and intimidation.

The ICC’s pre-trial chamber decision.

In a September 15 decision issued from its The Hague, The Netherlands headquarters, an ICC pre-trial chamber authorized the commencement of an investigation of the alleged crimes between November 1, 2011 and March 16, 2019 in the context of Duterte’s so-called war on drugs campaign.

The period also covers the time when Duterte was still Davao City mayor.

Prior to her retirement in June this year, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested for judicial authorization to proceed with investigation regarding the country’s situation in relation to Duterte’s drug war. 

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., fierce critic of Duterte’s drug war, also hailed the ICC decision.

“This is a historic moment for the Philippines and a crucial step towards justice and accountability,” Reyes said.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) likewise welcomed the ICC decision that came as the country’s biggest group of human rights lawyers observes its 14th founding anniversary today, September 16.

It was the NUPL that first expressed alarm over the rise of extrajudicial killings mere days into the Duterte presidency.

“It was July 4, 2016 when we first publicly called out against the madness of the extrajudicial killings in the bloody drug campaign against the poor. Now the ICC has opened the doors for a new beginning. It has been a long and tortuous journey so far,” the NUPL said.

The group’s jubilation however is marred by the killing of yet another member and officer in Mindanao, reportedly the 75th lawyer to be killed under the Duterte administration.

Human rights lawyer Atty. Juan Macababbad was shot dead by two assassins on board a motorcycle in Surallah, South Cotabato at 5:30 pm Wednesday.

Davao Today reported the victim was about to close the gates of his home in Zone 2, Brgy. Libertad when the assailants fired seven shots that killed the lawyer.

Macabbbad was vice-president of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao and NUPL founding member.

Duterte said he does not acknowledge the ICC’s authority to prosecute him, more so after the ordered the country’s withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute the established the tribunal in March 2019.

The ICC however said that the Philippines was still a signatory to the treaty when a complaint against Duterte and his police officers was filed in 2018. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

EDSA at diktadurya

“Tayo ang EDSA! Tayo ang pag-asa, ang totoo at ang pinakamakapangyarihang pwersa laban sa diktatura!“–Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. during a commemoration of the first People Power Uprising at EDSA last Saturday, 23 January.

‘Basher’ ng lider ng Bayan, humingi ng tawad

Binisita ni Gabriel Ilano, may ari ng Facebook account na nagpost ng pekeng kwento tungkol kay Renato Reyes Jr., ang lider-masa upang humingi ng tawad Hwebes ng hapon, Hulyo 26.

Humingi ng dispensa si Ilano sa naturang post at nilinaw nito na na-hack lamang ang account niya at hindi siya ang gumawa. Wala umano siyang galit kay Reyes.

Nagpasalamat naman si Reyes sa matapang na pagharap ni Ilano. Inahayag din nito na may kaukulang kaso ang pwedeng isampa sa kung sino man ang may kagagawan ng pang-hahack at pati na rin sa nagpakalat ng post na ito.

Sa pakikipagtulungan kay Atty. Krissy Conti, nagpasya ang dalawang grupo na magsasampa sila ng kaso sa mga nagpakalat ng kasinungalingan laban kay Reyes para hindi na maulit pa ang ganitong pangyayari.

Nato on trolls: ‘Let us not allow them to win’

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. is pushing back hard against online bashers he believes are “Duterte-Marcos trolls,” adding he has already consulted lawyers for appropriate legal action.

“I decry the orchestrated online slander campaign instigated by Duterte-Marcos trolls against me and the broad United People’s SONA,” Reyes told Kodao.

Reyes cited lies and a death threat posted online by bashers who also accused him of profiting from protest actions he helped organize.

He said the trolls altered photos of the huge SONA rally against President Rodrigo Duterte’s planned Charter change to make it appear as a pro-Duterte rally.

“Then, several accounts posted false and slanderous accounts about me concerning alleged purchases that I never made,” he said.

The post’s originator, a certain Gabriel Ilano, claimed he was asked by Reyes to “mark up” the declared price of a projector machine.

Ilano’s Facebook account since been deactivated after Reyes reposted Ilano’s accusation on his own account.

“However, [Ilano’s] false claims continue to make the rounds of Duterte sites. As a result I have received an online death threat from one Carl Espiritu,” Reyes said.

“Nagmamalinis kang animal ka! Kawatan ka pa rin palang hinayupak ka! Dapat bala ibaon sa ulo mo!” Espiritu wrote. (You want people to believe you are upright when you are corrupt yourself. You deserve a bullet to the head!)

Espiritu’s wife has called Reyes to apologize and explain that her husband is suffering from depression.

“I have already informed my lawyers and they are studying the appropriate legal action against Ilano, Espiritu and others who are spreading false claims,” Reyes said.

The leader said that two others have already contacted him to apologize, including a 23-year old woman who falsely claimed she was Reyes’s high school classmate who dropped out of school as he was already earning from organizing rallies.

Reyes graduated from Lourdes School of Quezon City and was his class’s Citizen’s Army Training Corps Commander and student publication editor in his senior year. He went on to attend the University of the Philippines in Diliman where he was also a student leader.

Earlier this year, Reyes’ 10-year old son was also accused by bashers of crashing a sports car into an electrical post.

“The end goal of the trolls is to stop critical discussion by hijacking the discourse. Let us not allow them to win,” Reyes said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

MAKABAYAN WISH 2015: Renato Reyes, Jr.

Makabayan wish for 2015 by Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)