By Reuben Pio Martinez
A total of 92 activists, workers, and relief operations volunteers have been arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in separate situations on May 1, 2020, Labor Day.
They were commonly charged for violating Republic Act (R.A.) No. 11332 (Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases Act), R.A. 11469 (Bayanihan We Heal As One Act), Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 880 (The Public Assembly Act), and Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code (Resistance to Persons in Authority or the agents of such persons).
Series of arrests, harassment
Iloilo City: 42 people who gathered in a candle lighting ceremony to mourn the recent death of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Panay City coordinator Jose Reynaldo “Jory” Porquia were arrested by about 50 police officers. BAYAN-Panay secretary general Elmer Foro explained that they proceeded with the event despite authorities declining their request.
Among those arrested were radio program Dampig Katarungan crew members Bryan Bosque and Crimson Labinghisa, video production team Panaysayon members Gaybel Rei Gullen, Kervin Bingansinco, Mc Mae Sulayao, Jory’s daughter Krisma Nina Porquia, and online news Panay Today’s Julrod Prino.
Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen of the Diocese of Iloilo and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) – Iloilo, and Fr. Marco Sulayao of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) were also apprehended.
Sta. Rosa, Laguna: Meanwhile, 16 Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa plant workers were reportedly forced to surrender as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), in a press conference by the PNP Police Regional Office (PRO) 4A.
Labor center Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU) stated that Rey Medellin, a Coca-Cola worker who is an alleged informant for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and PNP, conspired against the 16 workers. According to PAMANTIK-KMU vice chairperson Dandy Miguel, the aforementioned surrender of laborers as members of the revolutionary forces was indeed a lie.
Brgy. Central, Quezon City: 14 residents and jeepney drivers, and 4 Tulong Kabataan volunteers were arrested by 4 Quezon City Police District (QCPD) officers in civilian clothes, Kabataan Partylist (KPL) reported. This happened in the middle of operation of Kusinang Kabataan, a collaborative relief community kitchen between Cure COVID and Tulong Kabataan that has been providing meals to residents struggling financially for weeks now.
Among those detained in Camp Karingal, three were students of UP Diliman, including Jim Bagano, Joshua Marcial, and Jandiel Roperos. Anton Narciso III of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) was among them.
Marikina City: Same situation also happened in Marikina City, as the police arrested 10 volunteers who were handling a community kitchen in Brgy. Industrial Valley Complex. Among them were 7 jeepney drivers who were distributing meals and were said to be disqualified from the social amelioration program (SAP), Batibot Children Learning Center teachers Ronel Artizuela and Reilta Malundras, and Gabriela affiliate and Pinoy Weekly reporter Joan Bernadette Paz.
Valenzuela City: At 4 pm, authorities nabbed Kilos Na Homeless leader Fidel Columna, alongside Marlina Ablique, and Ann and Danny Calunsad of the Liga ng Manggagawa sa Valenzuela City (LMVC) after the four participated in an International Labor Day protest from home in Columna’s residence. Placed in Paso De Blas Police Station, police have said that the four supposedly posted questionable photos in social media.
Rodriguez, Rizal: Finally, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and labor leader Renaldo Dulay were arrested for staging a protest in Rodriguez, Rizal, despite observing social distancing with six others.
‘Tulong Hindi Kulong’
In the news of the mass arrests, several worker unions, labor centers, and youth groups took to social media to criticize these Labor Day displays of state fascism. Because of these incidents, the hashtags #Iloilo42, #Marikina10, #Montalban2, #QuezonCity18, #Valenzuela4, #StaRosa16became trending topics online.
Youth sectoral party Kabataan Partylist pointed out the irony behind the rapid detaining of relief operation volunteers and the slow distribution of financial aid. “Mga relief workers pinoposasan pero ang POGO ng mga sindikato, pinapayagan,” Kabataan Partylist said in a Facebook post.
In light of the arrest of student volunteers in QC, University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) chancellor Fidel Nemenzo shared similar sentiments, adding that the college stands with the detained UPD students. He added that the university would be supporting the students in the hopes that they would be released soon.
Meanwhile, Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro ordered the immediate release of the 10 detainees in their city, believing that the PNP might have “overreacted” to the situation as the protestors did not do anything wrong.
The Quezon City local government unit (LGU) released a statement regarding the arrest of the 18 residents and volunteers in Brgy. Central. While they said that the office is still investigating the matter, they will be “closely monitoring” the matter to ensure that the 18 would not be harmed in any way as the situation unfolds.
Speaking regarding the series arrest of relief volunteers, activists, and union members on Labor Day, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny (YANAT) strongly condemned the said actions by the state forces of the Duterte Administration as it exposed the real nature of government’s actions towards the public health crisis.
“These attacks expose Duterte’s tyranny hiding behind the mask of the enhanced community quarantine. If he truly prioritized addressing the COVID-19 crisis, he would have implemented genuine mass testing and provided immediate socioeconomic relief for the people. Instead, Duterte attacks relief volunteers and critics of his failure of a government, while sparing his allies who actually violated quarantine regulations,” YANAT explained.
YANAT also called out the immediate release of all those individuals who are still behind bars and dismissing all of the trumped-up charges filed against them.
“It is both a reason for grief and rage that this happened during Labor Day… YANAT calls for the immediate release of all the arrested individuals and the junking of any and all trumped-up charges against them. YANAT stands in solidarity with Filipino workers and the fight for health, livelihood, and rights,” the youth alliance ended. [P]
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