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Bill revokes ‘no permit policy’ of Phl gov’t
To be known as The Freedom of Expression Act of 2013, House Bill 3668 strengthens the right of the people to free expression, peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
"More often than not, authorities invoke the 'no permit, no rally' rule to justify the dispersal of rallies," the bill said.
It also said 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.
By repealing the "Marcosian relic" law, the bill shall ensure untrammeled exercise of civil rights.
"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,” the bill further noted.
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.
The organizers and leaders of the public assembly shall, however, inform and coordinate with the mayor or local authority regarding the agenda and details of the said assembly.
They shall also police their own ranks to prevent non-demonstrators from disrupting the lawful activities and avert molestation by demonstrators of the people not participating in the public assembly.
The bill prohibits law enforcement authorities from interfering with the holding of a public assembly but mandates them to adequately ensure public safety by deploying a contingent under the command of a responsible police officer. The police contingent shall be stationed at least 200 meters away from the area of the activity.
The bill also prohibits the dispersal of a public assembly unless such becomes actually violent.
The bill was filed by militant Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate.