Activists banned at House of Representatives

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A number of activists, including Juana Change, are not allowed inside the Batasang Pambansa complex.

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Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said the ban was contained in a memo issued by the Legislative Security Bureau Director Isabelito Flores.

Aside from Juana Change, also not allowed inside the House premises were labor leader Elmer Labog, University of the Philippines professor Danilo Arao, transport sector leader George San Mateo, government employees union leader Ferdinand Gaite, Anakbayan Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo, Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Secretary General France Castro, National Union of Students of the Philippines President Sarah Elago, College Editors Guild of the Philippines President Marc Lino Abila, and some members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, League of Filipino Students, partylist groups Kabataan and Anakpawis, as well as Kilos Bayan sa Kalusugan.

Ridon’s office emailed copies of the memo to members of the media.

The lawmaker claimed that the memorandum has been secretly implemented by the House leadership. It only came to light when House security personnel barred several student leaders who were invited to a House panel hearing this week.

“This new memorandum is inimical to the image and message of Congress being the ‘House of the People.’ How can Congress be truly a House of the People if leaders of peoples’ organizations are not even allowed to step into its premises? People included in the list are known progressives and socio-civic leaders who are frequently invited by the Lower House itself to share their knowledge and expertise in several pieces of legislation,” Ridon said.

“Security Director Flores claims that in the memo that the persons listed therein committed ‘decorum violations,’ yet there have been no investigation whatsoever to verify such allegations. This memorandum essentially transforms the House of Representatives into a rich gentleman’s club wherein persons are arbitrarily banned from entering,” he said.

“Aside from being highly discriminatory, the new security memo severely hampers several basic functions of the House. This new security memo is essentially a draconian move instigated by an insecure administration who will go to any length to curtail dissent and the people’s freedom of expression and association,” Ridon added.

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