DAVAO CITY – Activists who pulled out a protest inside the mall here during the visit on Monday of President Benigno Aquino urged police to spend their energy to hunt erring police personnel rather than sue them.

Gelyn Alapag of Anakbayan said the police “should instead chase crooked cops who are involved in crime like the recent hulidap in Manila.”

“We just exercised our freedom of expression.”

Hanimay Duazo, spokesperson of human rights group Karapatan of Southern Mindanao said “there is nothing above the Constitutional right of Filipinos to assembly, redress of grievances and expression”.

But protesters “are ready to face the cases in court”, she added.

Activists made their way through tight security to stage a protest, unfurling their placards and shouting at officials as President Benigno Aquino III passed by them toward the SMX Convention Center.  Aquino was the guest speaker of the business conference.

Protesters said they entered in small groups before Aquino arrived at the membership meeting of the Philippine Business fro Social Progress (PBSP).

When Aquino was about to enter the activity area, they shouted slogans like “Mindanao is not for sale!” and “Aquino, fascist, dictator!”.

They were accosted by mall guards and police officers and escorted out of mall. They held a short protest rally outside.

Senior Superintendent Marvin Pepino, acting city police chief, said they were contemplating at filing a case of alarm and scandal against the activists.

Suazo said that “why waste resources on us who just expressed our opposition to Pnoy’s (President Aquino) plan to sellout Mindanao to foreigners who just want to put-up palm oil and banana plantations while driving out indigenous peoples and peasants from their homes?” (davaotoday.com)

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