MANILA - Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he wants heavier penalties for unannounced protest rallies.
Roque, the former representative of the Kabayan Party-list, is the primary author of House Bill No. 6834, which imposes a punishment of 6 months to 6 years imprisonment for rallies held without notice.
Speaking to reporters, Roque said that while the Constitution guarantees the people's right to public assembly, local governments still have the right to limit the time, place, and manner of protest rallies.
The proposed law, however, provides that the grant of the rally permit is only ministerial unless there is clear and present danger.
"So, the rule is, while it is almost ministerial for them to issue rally permits because the license is granted by the Constitution itself and, therefore, it must be issued unless there is a clear and present danger that the state has a right to protect itself against. Any rally, therefore, should be given a permit," Roque said.
Asked whether he thinks the punishment is too grave for the offense, Roque said: "Hindi naman, kasi sa totoo, hindi naman nase-serve iyang six months to six years 'di ba?"
Roque, however, noted that the President has not indicated any need for harsher penalties for rallies without permits.
"This was not certified as urgent. This was something that I pushed through the process in the House of Representatives," he said.