MANILA — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte recognizes the right to freedom of expression of the Iglesia ni Cristo members, but they should have considered the “equal rights” of those affected by the rally.
The Justice Secretary recently drew the ire of the religious group for investigating the alleged illegal detention case against ousted INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. However, De Lima said that she is only doing her job.
The issue resulted to a big INC rally on Thursday outside the DOJ office in Padre Faura, Manila. The group afterwards moved to EDSA, causing heavy traffic jams in Metro Manila. Thousands of motorists and commuters were stranded.
According to Duterte, while the INC members are only exercising their rights as stated in the constitution, the group should have taken into consideration that they are “using the public property which is also subject to equal rights of others and the issue has now become an issue of law and order, no longer a constitutional issue, but you cannot arrest them for blocking the streets or traffic.”
He said that a dialogue is needed in order for both parties to come up with a decision.
Meanwhile, Duterte assured that no anti-riot police will be there on Monday as INC protests in his city.
“No, no, no anti-riot police. They are not bad people. It is their right but we must make sure everyone has access to a public facility,” the mayor said. “If they want to raise that number, I cannot refuse them. I don’t have a legal ground to refuse them. [They] can only be denied if there is clear and present danger but that has nothing to do with the security of the state,” he added referring to the 200,000 INC members who will participate.
“Make sure nobody is irked! Make sure it will not cause traffic problems. Make sure everyone has access [to the roads],” the mayor ordered.