Philbert reviews PM’s plan to march

Philbert was responding to a public declaration made by Manning at the PNM convention on Saturday that an application will be made to the police for permission to have a massive demonstration on April 9, the same day debate on the Opposition’s no-confidence motion takes place in Parliament.

Philbert, who returned to the country on Friday night after attending a conference in St Kitts, reiterated the police will await the application and make a decision based on “its merits”.

Philbert, who is a qualified lawyer, told Newsday that he will be doing some research to determine what exactly the word demonstration means, “so when the application comes before me I will be in a better position to give careful consideration to it.”

Philbert has in the past turned down applications for gatherings and marches for several reasons. During the Summit of the Americas meeting in Port-of-Spain, last April, Philbert rejected an application by FITUN president David Abdullah to hold a march in Port-of-Spain.

He also recently ordered the Public Services Association to desist from having two foreigners from Canada address midday public meetings at the Brian Lara Promenade. The police noted that the foreigners, who were brought to Trinidad to speak out against the proposed TT Revenue Authority, had to apply for permission to address public meetings.

However, on September 12, 2008, the police allowed the gathering of PNM supporters at Woodford Square Port-of-Spain during a similar no-confidence motion filed in Parliament by the Opposition against the Prime Minister.

Philbert came in for heated criticism by certain sections of the population and this led president of the Indo-Trinidadian Equality Council Devant Maharaj to file a complaint against the top cop with the Integrity Commission.

Contacted yesterday Maharaj told Newsday, “This is the same Commissioner Philbert who did not allow the Jahaji Massacre march to proceed over the years. I hope that my complaint against the Commissioner of Police regarding my allegation that he breached the (law) when he allowed an illegal protest in 2008 will be treated speedily.”

House Speaker Barry Sinanan yesterday declined to talk to Newsday over Manning’s intention to hold a PNM demonstration in Port-of-Spain on April 9 when the Lower House debates the no- confidence motion.

When asked yesterday if such a demonstration is lawful, Sinanan declined to reply. Sinanan said, “I’m at a social function now and can’t talk to you. You call up the Prime Minister and ask him that.”

The Opposition’s motion hits Manning for defending Udecott head, Calder Hart, whose whereabouts is now unknown to the police after his resignation and sudden flight from Trinidad. In a massive show of support PNM supporters have started mobilising to show their confidence in the Prime Minister. At a recent PNM General Council meeting on March 13, all 41 constituencies pledged their full support for the Prime Minister.

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