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FACT CHECK: Clifford Park, not Millennium Park, is site of Davao City’s ‘Freedom Park’

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 September) – For several years now, the area across the Ateneo de Davao University’s main entrance on Roxas Avenue has been referred to as “Freedom Park” even as elder Dabawenyos say it’s on the other side.

According to a 1985 Davao City Council resolution and ordinance and the signages that the city government installed this year, Freedom Park, is, indeed, on the other side of Roxas Avenue, towards Ponciano Street.

City Planning and Development Officer Ivan Cortez shared with MindaNews a copy of the ordinance that formally set up the city’s Freedom Park.

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Passed on February 22, 1985 at the height of the protest actions in the city against the Marcos dictatorship, Davao City Council Resolution No. 60, which approved Ordinance No. 23, established a Freedom Park for the people of Davao City to “assemble peacefully” to “air their grievances against the government or any person or entity without securing a permit from the City Government.”

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Protesters approach the Freedom Park towards the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Building/City Triangle Side via CM Recto Street in this photo from the Ateneo de Davao University’s Kalasag 1985.
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Protesters call for freedom for Mindanao detainees at the Freedom Park, across the Boy Scouts of the Philippines property. Photo from Ateneo de Davao University’s Kalasag 1985.

The resolution and ordinance identified Clifford Park as the site of the city’s Freedom Park, which “any person, group, organization or party” may use “subject to certain conditions.”

According to Section 3 of the Ordinance, these conditions are: That they shall

– inform the Office of the City Mayor of the name of the person, the organization, group or party and its officers including the time and date of use;
– police their own ranks and maintain peace and order;
– not block traffic along the streets bounding the Freedom Park.

The ordinance also provides that the City of Davao or any of its officers or agents “shall not be liable nor responsible for any criminal act or acts that may be committed by those who participate in the use of the ‘Freedom Park.’”

Fact #1 

Clifford Park was designated as Davao City’s Freedom Park in February 1985. It is not located between the old Aldevinco Building and the Ateneo de Davao University Grounds.

The resolution and ordinance identify the location of Freedom Park as follows: 

Sec. 2
The site of “Freedom Park” shall be the area fronting the Davao City Post Office and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Building, bounded by CM Recto Avenue, R Magsaysay Avenue and Ponciano Reyes Street.

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Freedom Park, 23 August 2022. “Freedom Park” signages were installed on the site on 23 March 2022, finally putting to rest the actual location of Freedom Park. MindaNews photo by YAS D. OCAMPO

According to Cortez, the park where protests are usually held is called the Millennium Park.

Fact #2

The Millennium Park, located between Ateneo de Davao and the old Aldevinco Shopping Center, is not the city’s designated Freedom Park.

But over the years, with the changes in physical development and the construction of traffic islands along Roxas Avenue, this area became the de facto Freedom Park and has been referred to as “Freedom Park” by protesters, local security forces and the media.

Elder Dabawenyos, however, continue to refer to Freedom Park at its actual location – what used to be just part of that wide road in 1985, long before traffic islands were constructed and long before Marco Polo hotel was constructed at the corner of CM Recto and Roxas Avenue.

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Freedom Park, September 21, 2022. The park has a huge open space where people can “assemble peacefully” to air their grievances against the government, etc., as declared in Resolution 60 and Ordinance. MindaNews photo by YAS D. OCAMPO
It was only in March when “Freedom Park” signages were installed on the actual site of Freedom Park, after the city government transformed the area into a mini park.

According to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office Parks and Playgrounds Development Division, the signs were installed on March 23, 2022. The renovated Freedom Park was opened by the end of March. 

Freedom Park has a wide open space and some benches that the public could use to “assemble peacefully” to air their grievances against the government, etc., as the 1985 Resolution 60 and Ordinance 23 had declared.

Fact #3

Freedom Park and Clifford Park refer to the same park.

Who is Clifford? 

The park was named after American soldier Col. Thomas E. ‘Jock’ Clifford, Jr, who was known as one of the liberators of Davao City during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s. Clifford was killed by Japanese mortar fire days after Davao City’s official liberation. 

In his honor, the local government here named a street, a bridge, a theater and the namesake park after Clifford. 

Historian Antonio Figueroa, in a column written for Edge Davao, said there used to be a building named Clifford Theater along Bonifacio Street, across Queens theater. 

As with all our other reports, MindaNews welcomes leads or suggestions from the public to potential fact-check stories. (Yas D. Ocampo / MindaNews)

(This fact-check piece was produced with the support of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator Project.)

MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism. It is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe and practice people empowerment through media.

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MindaNews Fact Check seeks to fight misinformation and disinformation circulating on the internet, news platforms and communities that we serve. 

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MindaNews Fact Check tracks and debunks fake news, false claims and misleading statements of government officials, civil society leaders and netizens being spread on the internet, especially on social media sites. MindaNews values truth and accuracy in performing our journalistic work.

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Politicians, government officials and other public and private figures at times tend to bend facts to suit or advance their vested interests, or their principals, in effect misleading the public. The distorted facts spread easily with the popularity of the internet and the wide influence of social media.

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MindaNews was founded by reporters precisely to ensure that reports about Mindanao, an island grouping that has suffered misinformation and disinformation long before these words became fashionable, are accurate. 

Our policy has always been to ensure that reports are thoroughly vetted before they are dispatched and uploaded on our website. 

Our fact-checking initiative with a uniform format started in October 2021 as part of Internews’ pioneering Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator (PFCI) project. Internews is an international non-profit that supports independent media from 100 countries. 

Prior to the PFCI project, MindaNews co-founded Tsek.ph, a collaboration among Philippine media institutions to fight disinformation and misinformation during the 2019. Tsek.ph did the same thing for the 2022 elections. 

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We abide by the Philippine Press Institute’s Journalist’s Code of Ethics. Since we became part of Internews’ Philippine Fact-Checker Incubator project, we have been striving to adhere with the IFCN Code of Principles, in step with our organization’s commitment to non-partisanship, transparency and fairness.

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MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism (MinJourn). It is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe and practice people empowerment through media. MinJourn, which is duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission with registration number CN201700385, is managed by its Board of Directors.

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Fact-checking Unit: Romer (Bong) Sarmiento, Yas D. Ocampo


Mindanao Institute of Journalism


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President & CEO: Jowel Canuday, D.Phil. (oxon.)
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Carolyn O. Arguillas, M.A.
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Ellen P. Alinea