Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte asked QCPD Police District Chief Antonio Yarra to submit a written explanation to shed light on allegations made by rally organizers that the agreement forged among these protesters with the QCLGU through Mayor Joy Belmonte and QCPD District Director Antonio Yarra was not honored by the latter.
The demonstrators claimed that contrary to the gentlemen’s agreement arrived at after a lengthy dialogue in which they would be permitted the constitutional right to peaceably assemble and exercise their freedom of expression, on the strict condition that minimum health standards including the submission of all the names and contact details of rally participants would be observed, the QCPD allegedly broke their word by blocking the march along Commonwealth Avenue thereby causing a commotion.
Progressive leaders lamented that if only barriers were not set up along Commonwealth Avenue, the protests could have ended peacefully and as scheduled.
In his tweet, former Bayan Muna partylist Representative Teddy Casino complained that “some police official decided to put up orange barriers along Commonwealth Avenue to block the march, in violation of the agreement with the QC LGU and PNP command that marchers would be allowed to reach St. Peter’s Chapel in Tandang Sora. Kaya ngayon barado ang daan.”
He called on Mayor Belmonte and PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar to tell their people to comply with the agreement so that the protesters can end their program and go home. Otherwise, he said, they “will all end up stuck along Commonwealth Avenue the whole day.”
Casino requested that the orange barriers be removed and the march to be allowed to reach its destination.
The day before the SONA rallies, the rally organizers detailed their plans to ensure orderly protest actions while observing minimum health protocols, and these were forwarded to and approved by PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano through Mayor Joy Belmonte.
This year’s SONA activities was the first time the Quezon City government, the QCPD and the various progressive groups agreed to work together to uphold both the human right to health and the constitutional rights to peaceable assembly and free speech.