ALUMNI of the Philippine National Police Academy will push through with its planned “March for Justice for SAF 44” although the Quezon City Hall revoked the permit it had earlier issued purportedly because of warnings from Malacañang.
But Palace officials denied it had attempted to discourage the PNPA Alumni Association from pushing through with the “unity march” purportedly because some leftist groups were planning to join the march which was announced to be open to the public.
“We have nothing to do with that,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over state-owned dzRNb Radyo ng Bayan.
“Remember that in any rally or demonstration, at least under the Aquino administration, we have never intervened, or we have never stepped in to ask that it does not push through, because we recognize that these rallies are part of the democratic space that we share,” Valte added.
Valte made the remark after Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma warned in Malacañang on Thursday that “opportunist” groups may take advantage of the unity march to reiterate calls for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III.
“While we are one in remembering the heroism of the 44 commandos of the Special Action Force who perished in Mamasapano, it is also important that we remain vigilant against groups who want to take advantage of our grief to push their own agenda,” Coloma said.
“According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, these opportunist groups calling for People Power and military support to force the resignation of the President to pave the way for a junta government are already committing illegal acts in violation of the Constitution,” Coloma said.
The remarks of Coloma were repeated by former QC police chief Elmo San Diego, now head of QC’s public order department, who said the permit that was issued a few days before was revoked because “left-leaning groups that may interact and mix themselves with the legitimate rallyists.’’
San Diego failed to explain what was illegal in such a case, but said “the application permit indicated a sympathy walk but if some will call for the ouster of the President the purpose will be altered and there will now be political color.”
But former police general Tomas Rentoy, president of the PNPA Alumni Association, said they will push through with their unity walk.
“We still have no permit, but the sympathy march will go on,” Rentoy said in a text message.
Rentoy declined to comment on the supposed call of a certain Senior Supt Jerome Baxinela, who claims to the chapter president of the PNPAAA in Camp Crame, urged all chapter members not to join the march.
“The intent of the PNPAAAI National is noble but the present situation does not warrant participation thereof. Let us uphold public interest over and above all other interest,” said Baxinela in a text message shared to the media by PNP spokesman Chief Supt Generoso Cerbo.
Rentoy reiterated the association’s earlier statement that the unity march is an “apolitical” activity and will focus on the demand for justice for the police commandos who were killed in a covert mission to capture international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir last January 25.
The march will start at Dasmariñas City in Cavite with a 44-kilometer walk from Salitran in Dasmariñas to the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
The second phase will be the walk from Camp Crame to the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City while similar marches will be also held across the country with the slogan “Walk with the Widows, Run for our Heroes.”
The assembly point for the first phase will be at Central Mall Dasmariñas on Emilio Aguinaldo Highway in Salitran at 2 a.m. on March 8. Runners from Cavite will be joined by others at 10-km intervals along the route.
The families of the commandos will lead the march from Camp Crame to Quezon City Memorial Circle.
Alumni and other participants from the uniformed services will assemble in front of Camp Crame Grandstand, while civilians will assemble at Camp Crame Gate I along Edsa by 5 a.m.
The final march to QMC will begin at 6 a.m. upon the arrival of the joggers from Cavite, while the Mass at QMC will be held at 10 a.m.
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