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Protester arrested at Freedom Day rites attended by Duterte


By Martin Sadongdong

Cops are keen on filing a case against a protester who was arrested for “disturbing” the speech of President Duterte during the commemoration of the declaration of the 120th Independence Day of the Philippines in Kawit, Cavite Tuesday.

Authorities capture the militants that conducted a lightning rally during President Duterte's speech at the 120th celebration of Philippine Independence in Kawit Cavite. Photo by Jansen Romero

Authorities arrested a protester who joined a lightning rally during President Duterte’s speech at the 120th celebration of Philippine Independence in Kawit Cavite. (Jansen Romero/Manila Bulletin

Senior Superintendent William Segun, provincial director of the Cavite Police Provincial Office (PPO), identified the arrested protester as 20-year-old Francis Couichie, of Barangay Kaingen, Santa Rosa, Laguna.

A police report said Couichie was nabbed by elements of the Cavite Police Mobile Force Company (CPMFC) around 9 a.m. after he “disturbed” the speech of President Duterte.

The police report stated that Couichie “without permissions of the law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously disturb[ed], interrupt[ed] public order” as he shouted “Huwad na kalayaan!” (False freedom!) along with nine other rallyists just as Duterte was about to begin his speech.

Segun said Couichie was brought to the detention facility of the Kawit City Police Station and will be charged with disturbance of peace in relation to Article 153 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

According to Article 153 of the Revised Penal Code, “[t]he penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall cause any serious disturbance in a public place, office, or establishment, or shall interrupt or disturb public performances, functions or gatherings, or peaceful meetings…”

Police confiscated from Couichie a placard which says “Kapayapaan para sa lahat at lahat para sa Kapayapaan. Bayan ST.” (Peace for all and all for Peace. Bayan ST.)

Meanwhile, the nine other protesters managed to escape.

Duterte reportedly told the police to practice maximum tolerance and deal with the protesters “peacefully” since what they did was part of their freedom to express.

Freedom of expression?

In a phone interview with the Manila Bulletin, Segun denied that Couichie’s right to freedom of expression was violated when he was arrested by the cops.

“Hindi pwedeng gamitin [freedom of expression]. Sa disturbance ng public order siya hindi lusot (They cannot use [freedom of expression] as an excuse. He cannot excuse himself from violating the disturbance of public and order),” Segun said.

He explained that the rallyists could have staged their protest at a different location and time but added that since they “intentionally” held it just as Duterte was about to start his speech, they violated laws on public order.

He, however, stated that cops will no longer pursue the nine escaped rallyists who, along with Couichie, “disturbed” Duterte’s speech.

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