TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Cagayan Valley Regional Director lawyer Jimmy Baliga reminded police to observe maximum tolerance and protect people’s human rights when responding to civil disturbance situations such as rallies.
In his speech during Police Regional Office o2’s (PRO2) Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) competition, Baliga said the constitution provides people the right to freedom of expression, including staging of peaceful rally in accordance with the law.
The lawyer reminded police to follow CDM operational procedures as contained in rule 26 of the PNP Operations Manual.
“Ang karapatan na ‘yan ay meron naman [din] tayo sa PNP. Bilang maintainer of peace and order yung Batas Pamabnsa Bilang 880 na napagkaloob din dun ang karapatan ng mga pulis to make the peaceful dispersal of rally especially if the rally is not secured by permit in accordance with law,” Baliga said.
Among these, he said, is the non-interference of police in public assemblies conducted within the limits of the law. Baliga added that the police contingent must be stationed about 100 meters away from the rally.
The team must also be under the command of a police senior inspector, he added.
Further, the CHR director said police should observe maximum tolerance.
“Ibig sabihin mahaba dapat ang pasensya natin when it comes to dispersal of rally. Ibig sabihin niyan, kung binibigyan tayo ng bato, ng water, dapat batuhin natin sila ng tinapay,” he said.
With this, the lawyer told police officers that they must only employ “very reasonable force” in times of rally, in order to repel aggression.
Baliga said the police can only accomplish their mission if they are competent.
“You’re commanding unit must be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and the decision-making [skills] so that hindi tayo magkamali sa ating appropriate actions when that time comes na nandun na tayo sa actual engagement with the rallyists,” Baliga said.
“Kami naman dito sa CHR we consider ourselves not your emissaries, but we consider ourselves as your partner in protection and promotion of human rights,” he added.
Meanwhile, the lawyer praised PRO2’s activity, saying that such exercises help police achieve professionalism in their field of work.
“Although in this part of the region, wala namang masyadong rally dito, but of course you can be assigned in Manila where there is rally. Of course we have the barangay elections…[which] give opportunities for us to disperse rallies that are illegally [staged]. Hindi naman bawal ‘yan during the campaign period,” Baliga said.
Baliga was guest and judge of PRO2’s CDM competition on Wednesday, April 25. PRO2’s Regional Mobile Force Battalion bagged the overall championship of the event. Northernforum.net