Militants question proposed ordinance banning barricades

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 November)  -– The proposed ordinance that seeks to ban barricades along roads will curtail the freedom of the people to freedom of expression, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Jay Apiag said on Thursday.

“This ordinance proposed by Councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta that bans road blocks during rallies and protest actions clearly violates the Constitutional right of the people to free expression. The Constitution clearly states that no law should be passed curtailing the freedom of the Filipino people,” he said.

The proposed ordinance, passed on second reading on November 20, will be approved on third and final reading on November 27.

But Vice Mayor Bernard Alag, who presides over the City Council, said in an interview at the sidelines of the opening day of the 10-day Big Bad Wolf book sale at The Tent in Azuela Cove on Thursday that progressive groups can challenge the proposed legislation in court.

Davao City Vice Mayor Bernard Alag says the proposed ordinance does not curtail rights but prohibits the setting up of barricades that block the free flow of traffic. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

He said the proposed ordinance will not curtail their constitutional right because what it prohibits is the setting up of barricades that block the free flow of traffic.

“We prohibited the blocking of streets. They can do their rally anywhere for as long as they do not block the streets. Practically that’s the spirit of the ordinance. If you want to question this, they can go to the court and question the ordinance there,” he said.

Apiag said they were not consulted nor informed on the filing of the ordinance, which prohibits “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.”

“We have always been open to dialogue and meetings with local officials regarding our mobilizations and protests, which was recognized even during the time of (President) Rodrigo Duterte when he was mayor,” he said.

“People’s protests should be seen as a democratic exercise of our rights and grievances, and dialogue and consultation are most welcome as it is also venue to come out with actions to address our concerns,” he added.

Apiag maintained that their protest actions are not unruly and provocative claiming that they’ve been able to hold rallies and marches “while observing the right of way of vehicles.”

“It is only in some instance like the barricade held by Sumifru union members in the TF Davao checkpoint in Lasang that caused inconvenience,” he said.

He added the City Council should probe the incident last month claiming that the main cause of inconvenience was the order from the City Hall of Davao that barred Sumifru union workers from Comspostela Valley province from entering the city to hold a dialogue with representatives of the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)