MANILA — It is unnecessary and uncalled for to bar protests on the inauguration day of President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said Wednesday.
Reyes said they plan to hold a peaceful rally at Liwasang Bonifacio, a freedom park located in Manila City, when Marcos formally assumes power on June 30.
"That place does not require a permit. Pero in the past, ang ginagawa ng pulis, tatambakan nila ‘yan ng kapulisan para hindi ka makatungtong sa freedom park," he told TeleRadyo.
(But in the past, police deploy personnel there so protesters can't use the freedom park.)
"Tama ba ‘yun? Makatwiran ba ‘yung ganun na gagamitan mo ng brute force ‘yung mamamayan na gusto lang magpahayag in a designated freedom park? That’s too much. Masyadong reminiscent na ‘yan ng martial law ni Marcos," the activist said, referring to the incoming leader's father.
(Is that right? Is it reasonable that you will use brute force against the people who just want to express themselves in a designated freedom park? That’s too much. That is very reminiscent of Marcos' martial law.)
Reyes said they intend to call for solutions on price hikes of basic commodities.
Marcos is planning to hold his inauguration as the Philippines' 17th President at the National Museum, also in Manila.
Reyes lamented that the police are conditioning the mind of the public that they cannot air their dissent and grievances during the inauguration ceremony.
"Itong ginagawa ng kapulisan, mukhang kinukundisyon nila ‘yung utak ng publiko na magiging marahas ang mga pulis laban sa mga nagpapahayag lang. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong na magpahayag ng damdamin, lalo na ngayon nagtataas ang presyo, parang walang relief ang ating kababayan dito sa inflation, pagkain, pamasahe nakaambang tumaas, bigas nakaambang tumaas, every week tumataas ang gasolina," Reyes said.
(The police seem to be conditioning the public's mind that they will be violent against those who air their grievances. And I don't think there's anything wrong with people expressing their sentiments, especially now that prices of goods are rising and as if our countrymen have no relief from the inflation - there's impending rise in fare and the price of rice, aside from the weekly increase in fuel prices.)
Reyes asserted that the people have the right to air any issues they have about the incoming administration and know Marcos' plans to address the economic problems.
He said they failed to hear from Marcos his economic plans during the campaign period because of his absence in presidential debates.
"Gusto natin sa unang araw pa lang, ma-call na ‘yung attention ng pangulo na itong problema dapat ang hinaharap, dahil hirap na hirap na ‘yung ating mga kababayan dito sa nagtataasang presyo. Linggo-linggo na lang, ‘yan ang problema natin," said Reyes.
(We want to call the attention of the president on his first day, on the problem of the people. Our fellowmen have been suffering because of the rising prices of basic commodities. That's been our weekly problem.)
Should they be prevented from holding their demonstration, Reyes said: "‘Yan ba ang gusto niyong mangyari na makikita ng mundo? On the inauguration of Mr. Marcos, we are being brought to a throwback. Parang nag-time travel tayo ng (1970s) na ganoong klaseng karahasan na naman ang iiral. Kami nga ho, nangangako kami, gusto naming makapagpahayag sa mapayapang paraan. Bakit naman kami dadahasin?"
(Is that what you want the world to see? On the inauguration of Mr. Marcos, we are being brought to a throwback, it's like we did a time travel int the (1970s) and that kind of violence will exist again? We promise to express ourselves in a peaceful way. Why should we be treated violently?)
If there will be any commotion, he said it will not start from their group.
"Sa karanasan, it’s always initiated by the police who refuse to recognize our right to peaceful assembly," he said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said it has ramped up security around the National Museum, even as it noted that there were no serious threats so far that have been monitored for the event.
PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo noted there might be a police contingent in the areas where activists may mount protests, and urged them to do these "within the bounds of the law."
"Base sa batas, lahat ng nagnanais magprotesta ay kailangang kumuha ng permit. Ngunit may mga designated tayong freedom park kung saan puwede silang magsagawa ng kanilang mga protest rally," she said last week.
(By law, everyone who wants to protest must get a permit. But we have designated freedom parks where they can hold their protest rallies.)
The National Museum of Fine Arts will close from June 6 to July 4, or almost a month, to prepare for Marcos' oath-taking. It will reopen on July 5.
The National Museum of Anthropology and National Museum of Natural History, on the other hand, will continue their operations.