MANILA – The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Tuesday defended members of the Manila Police District (MPD) who confiscated placards and other protest materials from activists at the Quiapo Church on Monday, saying they disrupted the solemnity of the Mass.
“Based on the report of MPD, I would like to clarify that the responding police officers received a report from church security officers that members of Akbayan Party List pulled out a placard and publicly displayed it which reads “IPAGLABAN ANG KALAYAAN! RESIST TERROR LAW!” during the Mass,” NCRPO director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas said in a statement sent to reporters.
In a video circulating in social media, police officers were seen confiscating placards and other paraphernalia as part of police response during a celebration of a Mass in Quiapo Church hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address.
He said the scene disrupted other churchgoers inside the church, thus, affecting the solemnity of the Mass while other members of the group were outside and were also displaying the placards.
“In its highest form, NCRPO respects human rights and freedom of speech. However, we would like to emphasize that we must observe the solemn celebration of the mass and find an appropriate place to air grievances,” Sinas stressed.
Sinas added that the police respect the church as a place of worship and will not tolerate deplorable acts that will disrupt the faithful’s right to hear the gospel.
Meanwhile, MPD director Brig. Gen. Rolando Miranda questioned the true intentions of the protesters involved in the incident.
“If Akbayan’s intention is purely to hear Mass, they should neither have brought the anti-government placards inside the church nor taken out their placards while the Mass is ongoing. The church people were alarmed so they called the police,” Miranda said in Filipino.
He also said that the protesters have originally planned to do the same inside the Manila Cathedral.
“The other parishioners were solemnly praying and they were surprised why there were people who are taking out their placards inside the church so we confiscated it. It was supposed to be held at the Manila Cathedral but the church refused to hold Mass for Senator Risa Hontiveros so they went to Quiapo,” he added.
On Monday, Quiapo Church parochial vicar Fr. Douglas Badong, reminded the faithful that the church is a venue for Masses, prayers and not for other purposes such as rallies. (PNA)