House approval of bill restricting public assembly
February 7, 2018
QUEZON CITY – The
House of Representatives, voting 212-55, approved House Bill No.
6834 on its third and final reading yesterday, February 6, 2018. The
said bill is set to replace the Batas Pambansa (BP) 880 or the
Public Assembly Act of 1985.
Under HB 6834, in lieu of
securing a permit, rally organizers would need to serve a notice to
the mayor, three working days before the protest. The bill will
impose graver penalties of 6 months to 6 years imprisonment for
rallies without notice, or those held outside the notice’s coverage.
“A permit or a notice
should is not a prerequisite for the Filipino people to exercise
their right to peaceably assemble. That is a basic right enshrined
in the Philippine Constitution and international human rights
instruments. It should take precedence over insidious attempts by a
Duterte-controlled Congress to pass another repressive legislation
that will further curtail people’s rights,” said Palabay.
Karapatan mentioned that
it is explicitly stated in the Bill of Rights section of the
Constitution that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of
speech, of expression, or of the press, or of the right of the
people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress
“The use of BP 880 to file
trumped-up charges against leaders have been tirelessly used by the
police as basis for illegal arrests. No doubt that HB 6834 will be
used to the same end,” Palabay noted.
secretary-general cited the cases filed against Karapatan’s own
paralegal staff, Neil Legaspi, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes
and spokesperson Teddy Casino, and several other leaders of
progressive groups who took to the streets on November 2017 during
the visit of US President Donald Trump in the country. “The Duterte
regime has caused and enabled systemic injustices that merits the
people’s indignation and protest. Yet here it is, working ways to
further cripple measures for individuals and organizations to demand
accountability,” she added.
“HB 6834 was passed
yesterday, along with the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the
constitutionality of martial law extension in Mindanao. Duterte is
relentless in bombarding us with repressive policies, expecting
other draconian measures to pass discreetly. We thus call for
vigilance. If all this is indicative of something, it is that the
Duterte administration holds the legislative and the judiciary by
its neck, and is completing the recipe for a full-blown
dictatorship,” concluded Palabay.