Palawan News file photo by Ruil Alabi.

The protesters’ permit to rally against Ipilan Nickel Corporation has been extended till February 28 by Brooke’s Point Mayor Cesareo Benedito Jr.

The town mayor informed Pastor Job Lagrada in a letter dated February 21 that he is granting their request and extending until the end of the month their permit to hold a public assembly and rally from Maasin Crossing, a provincial road leading to New Panay, down to the approach of Tagdidili Bridge in Purok 5, Brgy. Maasin.

Benedito granted the extension despite Ipilan Nickel’s lawyers advising his office that the protesters disregarded the law and the public’s safety and welfare.

“The counsels of Ipilan Nickel Corporation (INC) had informed this office that your group or the public assembly participants’ showing disregard for the law and the safety and wellbeing of the public; however, no official report has been submitted to this office as to the validity of the information [sic],” Benedito stated.

READ RELATED STORY: Ipilan Nickel requests Brooke’s Point LGU to cancel permit of rallyists

He explained that in accordance with Republic Act 880, or The Public Assembly Act of 1995, he is granting the request to allow the people to freely express their right to petition the government and hold public assemblies.

According to him, the same statute gives him the authority to issue or deny the permit unless there is clear and persuasive evidence that the public assembly will pose a threat to public order, safety, convenience, morals, or health.

“So as not to abridge the freedom or your right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, the undersigned has to act on the matter on your request for extension,” stated Benedito.

“This is also to reiterate that it shall be your duty and responsibility to take all reasonable measures and steps to the end that the intended public assembly shall be conducted peacefully,” he said.