DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A commotion between environmental groups and the police happened during the former’s silent protest held in front of the Sangguniang Panglunsod building on Tuesday, as leaders were almost arrested.
Police wanted to bring protesters to the San Pedro Police Station, questioning the staging of the protest which they said is a violation of the city ordinance banning any protest actions outside of the designated rally in Freedom Park in Roxas Avenue.
The commotion happened after the group led by the Sustainable Davao Movement conducted a silent protest action during the regular session of the City Council.
The group displayed their placards and streamers in green colors with calls of protecting the environment and opposing the city government’s Waste-to-Energy project.
In the midst of the group’s protest, personnel of San Pedro Police Station arrived asking everyone to leave the area. During the negotiation, police personnel began taking down some placards and a streamer from the protesters.
Two of the organizers of the protest were held by police but they negotiated and were allowed to leave the SP building.
Environmental advocate Rauf Sissay said they were asking the police to allow them to stage their photo ops, but he was dragged in an attempt to bring him to the police station.
“I condemn the attempt of the Davao City Police Office to arrest me in a peaceful protest against the Waste-to-Energy (WTE) protest in Davao earlier today, 19 April 2022. Ang gipakita nga kinaiya sa DCPO [Davao City Police Office] ganina kay usa ka pagpamatuod nga walay tarong nga pagpakabana ang lokal nga panggamhanan sa mga concern sa environmental advocates & concerned citizens dinhi sa dakbayan, ug kawalay respeto sa kapulisan sa demokratikong katungod nga magpadayag, (what the DCPO showed earlier was the lack of awareness of the local government on the concerns of environment advocates and concerned citizens here in the city, and the police force’s lack of respect for the democratic right to free expression),” Sissay said in a statement sent to Davao Today.
A police officer interviewed by Davao Today said such protests should be held on the designated area in Freedom Park.
“Gibuhatan ta og Freedom Park para didto ta mag air sa atong kaaligotgot sa kalibutan, atong mga disgusto, sa atong mga ganahan, mao na naa tay Freedom Park sa Roxas para didto sila tanan muadto pero di sila dapat muadto dinhi sa ingon ani nga lugar, sa ubang mga park. Pwedi, pero mananghid sila, mag seek sila og gitawag nato og permit to rally,” the officer said.
(The Freedom Park was built so that we can air our grievances in the world, our disagreements, our celebrations, that is why the Freedom Park in Roxas is there, but they should not do that here or in other parks. If they want to, they need to seek permit to rally.)
The environment groups staged the protest in the SP Building as the City Council was holding its session inside the legislative hall. (davaotoday.com)