Repeal of Public Assembly Act up to Congress

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Malacañang is giving lawmakers a free hand to decide on how to act on the plan of some of its members to repeal the Public Assembly Act.

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Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that members of Congress have the jurisdiction to act on the call to repeal Batas Pambansa (BP) 880, which requires people to secure written permits from local authorities before they could assemble in a public place.

She pointed out that the right to peaceably assemble is stated in the Bill of Rights.

“While the freedom of assembly is one of the constitutional rights enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, even Philippine jurisdiction recognizes there are reasonable [restrictions]when it comes to place para hindi magkaroon ng disruption o gulo [to avoid disruption or violence],” Valte added.

The call for the repeal of BP 880 was made by Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna who filed House Bill 3668 or the “Freedom of Expression Act of 2013”.

“More often than not,” Colmenares said, “authorities invoke the ‘No Permit, No Rally’ rule to justify the dispersal of rallies.”

“The Marcos-period Batas Pambansa Bilang 880 has been the convenient excuse for state forces to suppress otherwise peaceful demonstrations, effectively curtailing the basic constitutional rights to assembly, free speech and petition of government for redress of grievances,” Colmenares added.

“Its underlying premise is basic: the constitutional rights of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances are essential and vital to the individual and the collective strength and stability of the nation,” he explain further.

Under the bill, no permit shall be required for any person or persons to organize and hold a public assembly in a highway, boulevard, avenue, road, street, bridge or thoroughfare, park, plaza, square and or any open space of public ownership where people are allowed access

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