Davao to ban road blocks during protest actions

City Councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta confers with her colleagues during the city council session on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 20 Nov.) – The city council is expected to pass next week an ordinance prohibiting the setting up of road blocks by militant groups or any other parties that will hamper the free flow of traffic.

This after the City Council of Davao passed on second reading Tuesday the proposed ordinance “prohibiting any act that 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, concerted group activities, or other similar acts.”

City Councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta told reporters the proposed measure does not intend to curtail the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and right of expression of leftist groups but that “your right should not impede on other people’s rights especially when majority would be affected.”

She said the militants could freely hold their rallies at the Freedom Park even without permits.

The proposed ordinance is expected to be passed on third and final reading in the next session of the city council on November 27.

Section 1 of the proposed ordinance states that it seeks to preserve peace and order and protect national security by restraining obstructions and other activities along traffic chokepoints integral to securing the safety and welfare of the public; ensuring access to transportation between Davao and neighboring cities, as well as within city streets and highways; minimizing the effects of traffic build up; preventing serious and undue interference with the continuous movement of commerce and trade; and securing the free and uninterrupted flow of emergency and medical services to the public.

Once passed, violators will be penalized P5,000 and/or imprisonment of not less than one year or both, at the discretion of the court. In the case of organizations or corporations, its head, managers, members of the board, or persons responsible for the violation shall be charged individually.

Lyndon Paniza, chief of the Civil Security Unit of the Public Safety and Security Command Center, said the proposed measure came after former Presidential Security Group commander BGen Lope C. Dagoy wrote City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio last year asking her to prohibit the conduct of rallies along the road in front of the Malacañang of the South or the Presidential Guest House in Panacan.

The letter, dated October 23, 2017, read in part: “It is incumbent on us to ensure that threats, hazards, and security vulnerabilities are addressed since the President uses the place as official meeting place during cabinet meetings and courtesy call of prominent personalities and foreign dignitaries while in Davao City.”

Paniza said the Left may hold rallies at the Freedom Park where they can air their grievances to prevent traffic build-ups.

Militant groups in Davao City mark the 46th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by then president Ferdinand E Marcos with a rally at the Freedom Park on Friday, 21 September 2018. The protesters accused President Rodrigo Duterte of having followed the footsteps of Mr. Marcos. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

“We already have traffic problem in the city and you even add to it… We are supporting this ordinance because we think everybody has the right to travel that is guaranteed also in our constitution and since everybody is granted the liberty of abode that should not be curtailed,” he added.

He said the emergency response operations of the Davao City 911 will be hindered if there are road blockades.

The guest house, located inside the Department of Public Works and Highways-Regional Equipment Services Division 11, serves as an alternative seat of government.

Acosta said Carpio maintained the prohibition should apply not only to Panacan area but also to all roads and highways in the city.

“It is a big disservice to our economy to our emergency services to those who have personal concerns regarding family, medical concerns, everything that can be disturbed,” she said.

Acosta said the city government will not prevent the leftists from marching on the streets, provided they secure a permit and to notify the local authorities so that a rerouting scheme for the vehicles can be implemented.

“If they have a permit well and good because our Davao City Police Office can prepare and can be notified in advance, so that the public will not be compromised. If they are at the Freedom Park, they are allowed even without permits,” she added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)