Press Release
March 10, 2006


Whether the country is under a state of national emergency or not, Malacañang cannot legally revoke the permits for street rallies issued by the mayors.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has no right to cancel the rally permits since she does not control the local governments, which are autonomous from the national government.

Pimentel said the Presidents power over local governments is only one of supervision, as clearly provided under the Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160).

Control is different from supervision. The Presidents power over local government is only one of supervision. Therefore, she cannot substitute her judgment for the judgment of the local chief executives, the minority leader told a seminar on local governance attended by university students at Lorenzo Taada Room, Philippine Senate building, Pasay City.

Pimentel, principal author of RA 7160, said only the courts can revoke rally permits issued by the mayors unless the President will say she is already exercising martial law powers.

He said Mrs. Arroyo transgressed the boundaries of her powers when she ordered the wholesale cancellation of rallies during the seven-day period when the country was under a state of national emergency through Proclamation 1017.

The order, according to Pimentel, was patently illegal because the proclamation of national emergency does not suspend the civil liberties of the people that are guaranteed by the Constitution.

In this sense, he said Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte acted correctly when he defied the Palaces ban on rallies during the EDSA-celebration and even assured his constituents that he would see to it that their constitutional right of assembly and freedom OF SPEECH will be protected.

I think it is very important for us to remember that even as Mrs. Arroyo is president, even as we are senators and even as justices of the Supreme Court are justices of the Supreme Court, our powers are circumscribed by the Constitution, the lone senator from Mindanao said.

That is why the Constitution is there to put the brakes on possible abuse of powers of the powerful. That is the essence of democratic constitutionalism.

Pimentel maintained that the violent dispersal of peaceful rallies is a flagrant violation of Batas Pambansa 880 which implements the constitutional mandate that the State shall ensure the free exercise of the peoples right to peaceably assemble for the redress of grievances without prejudice to the right of others to life, liberty and equal protection of the law.

Under Batas Pambansa 880, all peaceful assemblies of the people for the redress of their grievances are legal and could not, therefore be stopped, dispersed, or disbanded, said Pimentel, a member of the Batasang Pambansa which enacted BP 880.

He said this law provides that: 1. A permit is not indispensable for a peaceful activity to take place; 2. A permit is not necessary to make the activity legal and 3. A permit is necessary only to provide order to the activity and security of its participants.

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