CATBALOGAN CITY – Chief of Police, P/Supt. Carlito Abriz describes as “very peaceful” the No-to-Php800M-Loan Coalition assembly of more than 3,000 Samareños at the park inside the Samar provincial capitol grounds in Catbalogan City in the morning of December 01, 2015.
The coalition - composed of An Bag-o nga Samar Movement (BSM), People Surge - Samar, Kabataan Partylist-Samar, Makabayan-Samar, Gabriela, the urban poor, fisherfolks, farmers, the youth sector, etc. – coming from 2 cities and several municipalities of the province started the protest activities with a “Walk for a Change” that took-off from assembly point at Mabini St. beside St. Mary’s College.
Passing along the main thoroughfares of Catbalogan, the participants, aside from chanting or vocally sounding-off complaints of injustice and abandonment, carried with them placards and tarpaulins signifying objections to the Php800M loan and airing grievances to the neglect of the provincial government in providing assistance for shelter and livelihood to the victims of super typhoon Yolanda, Typhoons Glenda, Ruby and Seniang.

The walk that started with over 2,000 participants increased to more than 3,000 (with over a thousand more arrivals from far-flung areas during the progress of the activity) as "walk" culminated at the park inside the capitol grounds in front of the provincial government building where the coalition had a standing parade for speeches and programs.
In his opening remarks, BSM’s Secretary General Aurelio Bardaje, Jr., told that the assembly is an initial activity towards a bigger group that will convene early in 2016.

Rishel Yrigon of People Surge – Samar urged people to help prevent release of the Php800M loan from the Land Bank as the amount does not justify the need for construction of roads and a hospital when the Samarenos are wanting in basic social services which the majority were deprived of by the present provincial administration.

Pleased at the number of people who actively joined and participated in the assembly to support opposition to the Php800M loan, Board Member Alma Uy-Lampasa expressed relief from her dilemma of being alone in her quest against the loan because the people who she stands for in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan has now openly joined her cause.
“I promise to continue this fight for you - the very people who gave me the highest number of votes to make me the number one Board Member of the province - even when the present administration has stripped me off of the rights, respect, dignity and honor due to me as a Sanggunian member,” Lampasa further said in her speech.

The assembly ended with the burning of “borrowing ordinance” copies after the group representatives joined by BM Lampasa tore the pages to pieces.
Per information gathered from the employees of the provincial capitol, both Governor Sharee Ann Tan and Vice Governor Stephen James Tan were not in their respective offices during the progress of the assembly's activity.

Asked for his assessment of the assembly, P/Supt. Carlito Abriz who was within the premises of the provincial capitol building and grounds, together with other members of the city’s police force during the conduct of the assembly’s program, complained that the rally was without a permit because Catbalogan City Hall allowed only “to hold a parade along the main thoroughfares of this City on December 01, 2015 at 9:00AM to 3:00PM” corresponding the request for permission filed by Mr. Aurelio Bardaje, Jr. in connection with the A Walk for a Change.

COP Abriz informed The Calbayog Journal that because it was seen that the conduct of the assembly was “very peaceful,” the police force allowed the coalition to hover in the area as long as group followed instructions being coordinated by the police force to and with the organizers to speed-up the proceedings of the assembly.
Specifics of the instructions disseminated by the police force to the participants of the assembly was not at the time of the interview made known as, according to Abriz, there are still some coordinations to be made with his men in the force.

The police chief further assured that copy of a report his office will write about the activity can be furnished to the media at a later time.

BSM’s Bardaje, as of press time, has not been available for his opinion about the permit.

-, December 5, 2015

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