DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Activists here assailed the passage of the city anti-road blockade ordinance penalizing barricades especially during protest actions in this city, saying it was passed lopsidedly sans consultation with the militants.
Groups under the umbrella of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region slammed the ordinance for it “curtails freedom of expression.”
It was City Councilor Mabel Sunga-Acosta who sponsored the ordinance prohibiting road blockage during rallies which now covers the entire Davao City.
Jay Apiag, secretary general of Karapatan-SMR lambasted the city council for passing the controversial ordinance without conducting a consultation with the militants.
“It is clear that this is a manifestation of a political persecution to thwart democratic assertion of Filipinos to their legitimate demands,” Apiag said.
“The local government instead must pass a local ordinance recognizing the rightful demands of the people, and much more, on how to address these demands,” he added.
The city council, during the regular session on Tuesday, November 27, passed on third and final reading the ordinance prohibiting “any person to do any act which impedes or obstructs the free flow of traffic along public streets and highways, such as unauthorized road closures, setting up of barricades, stalling of vehicles or other similar acts.”
The said ordinance “seeks to preserve peace and order and protect national security.” But Apiag said that barricades during protest actions are a result of disgruntlement [of people] to the government, saying “the government failed to address legitimate demands of Filipinos.”
Violators of the said ordinance shall be fined in the amount of 5,000 pesos and/or imprisonment of not less than one year.
Exemptions of the ordinance include: activities, events or gatherings, authorized by the national or city government; barriers, blockades, or obstructions intended to divert vehicles away from road damage, ongoing construction, accidents or emergencies.
Apiag said they would “exhaust any possible means to oppose the ordinance” as he called for the resumption of the stalled peace talks between the government and the communist. (davaotoday.com)