MANILA, Philippines — As if to show who’s boss, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim yesterday “modified” the permit to rally of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) from July 13, a Friday, to July 14, a Saturday—in keeping with his earlier statement allowing rallies at the historical bridge only on weekends and holidays.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said moving the date meant, in effect, that the mayor had denied their application to assemble on Friday.
“We will question his decision because the approved permit did not show evidence on ‘clear and present danger,’ which could be the only basis for denying or modifying a permit,” said Reyes, citing Batas Pambansa No. 880, the act that guarantees the right to assemble peacefully.
Lim announced earlier that he was limiting the rallies at Mendiola so as not to inconvenience students and motorists. On Sunday, only a few supporters of deposed President Estrada attended the first approved rally at the bridge since Lim assumed office.
Secretary to the mayor Rafaelito Garayblas, who signed the permit, justified the move transferring the rally to a weekend, saying it was the “right of the state to enforce peace and order. They (activists) should look at the side of the students and commuters.
Adding that the rallyists could still go to other areas “as long as they do not obstruct traffic,” Garayblas said the move did not curtail Bayan’s “freedom to express their views.”
Reyes said they wanted to speak to the mayor before he decided on the permit, but they were not given time to do so.
The secretary general of the activist group said they were planning to push through with the mass action on Friday.
He previously said the gathering would not bother students since it would be held during classes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lim’s refusal to grant rallyists access to Mendiola Bridge on Friday, added Reyes, also “did not look good” since it came after the mayor’s recent meeting with President Macapagal-Arroyo. The mayor assured her that he would not allow chaos in areas close to Malacañang until 2010.