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Palace: ‘Let’s talk on Charter change’

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But will respect right to protest

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:15:00 12/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A day before a rally against Charter change in Makati City, which organizers predict will be huge, Malacañang on Thursday urged groups opposed to amending the Constitution to consider a dialogue on the matter instead of taking to the streets but said it would respect people’s right to protest.

“We should talk, dialogue, debate instead of protesting. There are more positive ways to make oneself heard. But this is a right and the Palace will protect that right,” deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said in a statement.

“We must all respect and protect the right to free expression. We assure that their rights will be protected. We hope the rally will be orderly and peaceful and respect the rights of others,” deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said.

The Palace had urged lawmakers pushing for amendments to the 1987 Constitution to hold dialogues with groups opposed to the move.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s critics warn that efforts to push Charter change are meant to extend her stay in office beyond 2010.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano said troops in Metro Manila would be placed on alert for the protest, which organizers say will be the biggest since February, at the height of the bribery scandal surrounding the botched national broadband network project.

“Our NCR [National Capital Region] Command, which is directly supporting the NCR police office, has contingency plans for any situation that may arise. We hope that nothing unusual or abnormal will happen but as we always say in the military, we hope for the best but we always prepare for the worst scenario,” Yano told reporters in Fort Bonifacio.

He said there was no specific threat to the rally, which would see activists, opposition, and church groups join forces.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-12-11T09:11:26+00:00UTC12bUTCThu, 11 Dec 2008 09:11:26 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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