House approves bill strengthening freedom of expression

MANILA The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure strengthening the right of the people to free expression.

Voting 212-5, lawmakers approved House Bill 6834, otherwise known as the "New Public Assembly Act."

The bill aims to ensure the people of their constitutional rights to free speech, and to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances without unnecessary and unreasonable impediments.

The bill includes in the coverage of the public assembly any rally, demonstration, march, parade, procession, or any other form of concerted action for the purpose of presenting a lawful cause, expressing an opinion on any issue, and protesting against or influencing any issue or program of the government.

The bill, however, excludes in the coverage of the law some assemblages such as picketing and other concerted action in strike areas by workers and the political meetings or rallies during election campaign periods.

Any person or group planning to hold a public assembly is required to serve a notice to the local chief executive who has jurisdiction over the public place.

In turn, the mayor or any official acting in one's behalf shall be required to reroute traffic in public thoroughfares to prevent grave public inconvenience.

The bill states the responsibilities of the leaders and organizers who shall be required to ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of a public assembly.

Under the bill, one suitable freedom park or hall shall be designated in every city or municipality for purposes of public assembly. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency