Police stops 300 from marching to Cagayan de Oro for protest
Around 300 alleged members of indigenous people and peasant organization were stopped by police from going to Cagayan de Oro after authorities found out they are not authorized to bring minors.
Northern Mindanao Police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Surki Sereñas, told The Daily Manila Shimbun in a phone interview these groups from Bukidnon were planning to hold a rally in Cagayan de Oro until they arrived at the Manolo Fortich checkpoint around 9 am.
He said PNP personnel at Manolo Fortich checkpoint stopped them for routine safety and security checks.
“Authorities noticed that some minors are with them. That’s why we coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to determine if they are authorized to bring minors for their protest,” said Sereñas.
He added they also asked the group to show their documents and clearance but they cannot provide anything.
Sereñas said though some are children and relatives of the protesters, they found out that others were not.
“The purpose of stopping them (in the checkpoint) is to find out if they are allowed to bring the children. We didn’t not directly hold them and wait for the DSWD but there is no authorization,” he said.
He said they were allowing them to conduct a protest in Cagayan de Oro as long as they will allow the children to be under DSWD custody for a while.
“We did not harass them. They even held a rally at the checkpoint… they don’t want to go without the minors,” said Sereñas.
Sereñas said they are ensuring that the group is not violating the law on trafficking in person and RA 7610 (Exploitation of minors).
In his statement, Sereñas said “the PNP respects every person's right to travel, to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances”.
“However, we cannot allow flagrant defiance of the law, breach of peace and disorderly conduct in a supposedly peaceful and tranquil day of the lent,” he added.
According to Sereñas, the group left around 3 pm to return to Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Ella Dionisio/ DMS