REPEAT OF 1987 MENDIOLA MASSACRE A REASON FOR NO RALLY POLICY

Malacañang
, October 17, 2005
(OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) No rally policy on Mendiola designed to avoid repeat of 1987 bloody incident.

Eighteen years after 17 farmers were felled by bullets in the bloodiest street protest in Metro Manila, the "Mendiola Massacre" continues to haunt the country and influence police response to rallies in the historic bridge.

Malacanang is determined to forestall a repeat of the massacre that left the nation in a state of shock, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye said in his regular weekly column: The View From the Palace, which comes out tomorrow (Monday).

Defending the police for keeping away the groups that tried to cross Mendiola bridge and march towards Malacanang last Friday night, Bunye pointed out that "Mendiola has been the scene of bloody clashes before. Remember the Mendiola massacre?"

Seventeen farmer-demonstrators were killed when shooting broke out on Mendiola bridge on Jan. 22, 1987.

Bunye said that if the rallyists were allowed to cross Mendiola bridge, "there is a great temptation for provocateurs or even plain emotional protesters to call for assault on sentries and the outcome could have been worse."

He said the police will continue to "act in accordance with standard operating procedures to protect the public interest."

"There is only one rule for all Filipinos. You break the law, you are taken into account for it. This rule applies to the rich and the poor, the powerless and the powerful – it has nothing to do with politics," Bunye said.

"It is high time we put sense and order in our society and the police have the thankless job of doing it," he added.

Earlier, he pointed out that the government is not out to curtail the right of the people to express themselves. "What we are only requesting is for them to hold the (rallies) in the proper places."

This way, dispersal of rallies and traffic gridlock would be avoided and people could go about their business without suffering the inconvenience and hassle caused by mass actions in public places, he said.

The Manila city government has designated certain areas, including historic Plaza Miranda, as freedom parks where rallies are allowed.

View from from the Palace (For the week ending October 16, 2005)

We leave the investigation of the rally dispersal last Friday to the proper authorities in order to avoid a repeat. But the police had reason to keep groups away from Mendiola. Mendiola has been the scene of bloody clashes before. Remember the Mendiola massacre?

If the rallyists get in there, there is a great temptation for provocateurs or even plain emotional protesters to call for assault on sentries and the outcome could have been worse.

Meantime, the police will continue to act in accordance with standard operating procedures to protect the public interest.

There is only one rule for all Filipinos: You break the law, you are taken into account for it. This rule applies to the rich and the poor, the powerless and the powerful—it has nothing to do with politics. It is high time we put sense and order in our society and the police have the thankless job of doing it.

*****

We got this note from Rep. Dodo Cagas: The police need no retraining. They were doing their job in accordance with law and the rules of engagement relative to crowd control. The so-called senior citizens were asking for it. They had no rally permit and Mendiola is no-no to rallies. The President need not apologize for anything.

Celso Ricafort of Marikina City wrote: The use of a solemn procession for political destabilization is the highest form of sacrilege which the genuine faithful must denounce in the strongest terms. This is like the devil using the Scriptures.

*****

On the anniversary last Tuesday of the enactment of the Local Government Code, local government authorities and Malacanan jointly launched "Kilos Asenso", an ambitious project to further stimulate development in the countryside. President Gloria ordered the release of P17.5 billion, representing the unreleased portion of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).

President Gloria hopes that Kilos Asenso would be instrumental in implementing the 10-point Legacy Agenda to fight poverty and build a strong nation.

She called on Governors, Mayors and Barangay Chairmen and other local government executives to, among many other tasks, spread the miracle of microfinance by partnering with accredited microlending institutions.

There are over 800,000 registered small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Imagine the economic impact, if only these SMEs, with appropriate assistance, can generate at least one new job each.

The President also rallied the local government executives to initiate and encourage discussions on charter change in every barangay. The President believes that our economic liberation and political stability can best be achieved with a renewal of hope that comes from changing our political system.

*****

We are glad to hear from ConCom Chair Jose Abueva, ConCom Secretary General Lito Lorenzana and Deputy Secretary General Romela Bengzon that the proceedings and schedules of the Constitutional Commission are on track.

The commissioners have already constituted themselves into various committees and they are about to start their regional consultations so that the voices of the people could be heard on various issues that would definitely impact on future generations of Filipinos.

The ConCom has until the middle of December to complete their consultations and submit their recommendations on proposed constitutional amendments.

This early, we are sensing a shift of preference from the presidential to a parliamentary system with a decentralized structure of governance that would remove the gridlock that keeps us from catching up with our neighbors.

*****

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Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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