The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the statement of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to exercise maximum tolerance in handling the protesters that will conduct rallies during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on 24 July 2023.
Law enforcers play an important role in enabling the citizens to exercise their rights in a safe and secure environment. We are hopeful that the PNP’s statement of assurance will translate to efforts by State forces to protect and facilitate the right to peaceful protest in the same manner that they will endeavor to ensure peace and order.
In the same vein, we also remind protest groups to abide by the requirements of the Batas Pambansa Bilang 880 (BP 880), which include a written permit in the conduct of a peaceful assembly in a public place, unless held in a freedom park, in a private property, or in the campus of a government-owned and operated educational institution, as exempted under Section 4 of BP 880.
As an important national event, SONA serves as an opportunity for many groups and individuals to express their views, stances, and grievances on important national issues. This reflects active participation in national affairs, which is vital for a thriving democracy and an inclusive and accountable governance. It is important for the State to facilitate and provide a space for the exercise of peaceful assembly as this will also demonstrate responsive governance that sincerely listens and engages with diverse groups toward social good.
For our part, CHR investigators and lawyers from the Central Office and Regional Offices will conduct monitoring of rallies and to investigate as needed to ensure the conduct of peaceful protests. ###