DAVAO CITY, Philippines – City Vice Mayor Bernard Al-ag said he will craft an ordinance prohibiting protest actions on public roads, as one of the city council’s priority measure before the year ends.
The said measure was earlier proposed during the city Peace and Order Council meeting last October, following the incident in Barangay Lasang on October where banana workers under Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms(NAMASUFA) from Compostela Valley, blocked the highway after they were denied entry by the Task Force Davao checkpoint.
A copy of a letter from KMU shows that NAMASUFA were supposed to attend a preliminary conference called by the DOLE Region XI.
Al-ag said that incidents of protesters blocking the road also happened last 2016, referring to the protest in front of AFP Eastern Mindanao Command in Barangay Panacan,noting that this can happen again in the future.
He added that the council received several complaints from the public affected by the resulting traffic in Lasang.
“The LGU does not prohibit protest actions but the blocking of roads,” said Al-ag.
The proposed ordinance intends to penalize individuals and groups blocking the roads in the city with 5,000 pesos fine and/or 1 year imprisonment.
In an open letter to the public by labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Southern Mindanao Region, on behalf of their members under NAMASUFA, the worker’s group extended their apologies to the public for the inconvenience their protest actions may have caused.
They said it was done “without malice or ill content” adding it was “a spontaneous reaction to a frustrating double standard in the application of security protocols”.
KMU recalled the ordeal that day, pointing out that the workers were stoped by numerous checkpoints by the PNP and the AFP all the way from Compostela to Panabo.
The group added that upon arriving in Lasang, they observed the deviation from standard operating procedures in the checkpoint. Names of individual members were even listed by personnel of TF Davao.
The group said an hour had passed but the TF Davao still refused to let the workers enter the city despite their compliance to the security protocols and were only told that there was still no clearance given by the City government for them to proceed.
“This prejudicial treatment and double standard in the implementation of the law by the government authorities was the real inconvenience, not the barricade. Had the TF Davao and the Mayor permitted entry of the workers, this unfortunate incident would have been avoided”
KMU added: “By missing that conference, our members missed the opportunity to air grievances in a formal venue and seek a solution to a festering labor problem. In addition, restricting our freedom of movement without ground is a blatant violation of the Constitution.”(davaotoday.com)