Dumaguete mayor denies blocking ‘prayer’ rally attended by Duterte

Posted by watchmen
May 11, 2024
Posted in News


Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo denied blocking a political demonstration attended by former President Rodrigo Duterte and his supporters on Tuesday, May 7, saying the group did not have the proper permit for the gathering.

Remollo explained that last month, a certain individual applied for a “prayer rally,” which he approved.

But days before the scheduled rally, another person wrote to the police asking for augmented security as Duterte and other former government officials were confirmed to attend.

“When this reverend pastor applied, meron siyang endorsement sa police, traffic, so nabigyan siya ng permit to rally … [Pero] four days before rally, meron nang ibang tao na sumulat sa police chief [asking for additional security],” Remollo told Teleradyo Serbisyo.

Upon learning that many former government officials were attending, the mayor said they realized that it was no longer just a simple “prayer rally” as originally applied.

“Hindi na prayer rally ito … Legitimate naman ang political rally, pero nung Day 1 kasi ang in-apply ay for prayer rally,” he said.

The mayor also said that the applicant of the permit was eventually axed from the group and was no longer connected to the rally, making the permit invalid.

He then asked the group to apply for a new permit to rally, but they refused. The group also refused to reschedule the gathering.

“Sabi ko, if anything happens, you’re responsible. Ayaw din nila … Ayaw nilang mag-apply [ng bagong permit],” he said.

“As a lawyer, I believe in the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, but there are limits to that. You cannot just rally and block the streets,” he added.

In the end, the group proceeded with the rally and the mayor allowed it.

“They might think that they were not welcome [but the] point is hindi kami prepared,” Remollo said.

“I’m thankful na peaceful ang rally nila,” he added.

The group held a press conference, where they accused the provincial and local governments of suppression.

“Nakakatawa. Nakakagalit. Nadaanan ko ‘yung Freedom Park, ‘yun sana ang gusto namin. Nagpunta kami rito, naghingi kami ng permit, binigyan kami but ng araw ng dumating kami, binawi ‘yung permit at sinarhan ‘yung Freedom Park,” Duterte said, adding that Malacañang could be behind the move.


Short notice

Meanwhile, the provincial government of Negros Oriental stood its ground that they already had plans on the use of the Freedom Park prior to the scheduled prayer rally.

In a letter signed by Atty. Arthur Tolcidas, provincial administrator of Negros Oriental, he explained that the request letter of Kilusang Pagbabago came at “very short notice.”

“Unfortunately, the provincial government has already scheduled activities at the park beginning on May 6, in consonance with the Centennial celebration of the Capitol Building on May 17, 2024,” wrote Tolcidas.

This included maintenance and rehabilitation work of the grounds and structures which required temporary closure “for the safety of the general public.”

The temporary closure order was issued on May 2.

At the same time, there was also the blessing of new heavy equipment units acquired by the provincial government.

They also explained that even for religious-related activities at the Freedom Park of the Capitol, there has to be charges for the utilization of the amenities as enshrined in a provincial ordinance.

Tolcidas even said that the organizer’s letter had no return or contact address.

Governor Manuel “Chaco” Sagarbaria, for his part, said he is thankful that there was no chaos that ensued despite the refusal to grant them use of the Capitol Grounds.

“They respected at least [they understood] nga naka-timing lang og schedules. So, I’m thankful for that,” he said. (ABS-CBN News)

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