Prosecutors junk police complaints versus progressive activists over 2013 SONA rally

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The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has dismissed the complaints filed by the police against several progressive activists in connection with the protest during the 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA) which supposedly lacked a permit.

According to a recent 7-page joint resolution, there was a “lack or insufficiency of evidence” to order the activists’ indictment for disobedience of authority, direct assault, physical injuries, malicious mischief, and violation of Batas Pambansa (BP) Bilang 880.

Activists cleared of charges include Saturnino Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, Liza Maza, Teodoro Casiño, Renato Reyes, Ferdinand Gaite, George San Mateo, Carlito Badion, and lawyer Edre Olalia.

The resolution stated that the policemen failed to indicate the particular acts that constituted resistance and disobedience.

It also questioned how the police could specifically name the respondents, when it only made arrests during the chaos that ensued after ordering the dispersal of 300 to 600 rallyists.

The resolution also found a lack of evidence to charge the prominent activists as leaders of the rally.

It also gave weight to the activists’ argument that the city government gave its implied permission to the protest because it did not act right away on the application for a permit.

Under BP Blg. 880, a permit application should have been acted upon within two working days. But, while the application was submitted on July 12, 2013 (Friday), the written denial was only served after the end of office hours on July 16, 2013 (Tuesday).

The city government also did not give the applicants the opportunity to be heard about the denial of their application, in violation of the law.

The resolution noted that the Supreme Court (SC) had yet to rule on the issue of the validity of the denial of the permit.

The resolution was signed by Assistant City Prosecutor Melvin Matti and approved by Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Manuel Luis Felipe.

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