After almost three days since the violent arrest and detention of Cabuyao 11, finally the City of Cabuyao’s Office of the Prosecutor ordered the release of the progressive individuals last July 6, however charged with violation of quarantine protocols, the Public Assembly Act of 1985, and resisting arrest.
It was last saturday, July 4, around six in the evening at Brgy. Pulo, Cabuyao, when members of progressive groups were arrested illegally and vehemently by elements of PNP Cabuyao together with the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army while conducting an indignation rally calling the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Contrary to how peaceful and organized the mobilization was, the illegal arrest of enforcers came to the extent where some of them were hurt and injured while being dragged, hair-pulled and even strangled.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Tagalog (BAYAN-ST) spokesperson Casey Cruz, one of the arrested, on her status post in Facebook said, “Kinaladkad n’yo kami sa kalsada. Hinatak kabilaan na parang hayop. Sinabunutan n’yo ang mga babae naming kasama. Sinakal n’yo si Angelo Salgado gamit ang braso na parang handang-handa na kayong patayin siya.”
The other arrested were KARAPATAN Southern Tagalog spokesperson Kyle Salgado, Marife Valdeavilla of Kabataan Partylist Laguna, Shirley Songalia, Helen Catahay and Fatima Banjawan of Gabriela Southern Tagalog, Emmanuel Numeron of Bayan Muna Youth, Jemme Mia Antonio of Liga ng Manggagawa, Sweden John Aberde and Renero Maarat of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU) and Miguel Portea of STARTER-PISTON.
Delayed, denied and detained
After the violent scene, the 11 were brought inside the barangay hall of Pulo before they were transported to the Cabuyao Municipal Police Station in Brgy. Sala. The 11 were not informed of the charges against them before they were arrested, when police are supposed to read a person being arrested their rights and inform them why they are doing so.
Minutes later, they were held in Cabuyao MPS awaiting a decision from the police. Cabuyao police chief Reycon Garduque insisted on pressing charges against the 11, including the three minors. He said that the issue “trended on social media” and as such they could “no longer back down.” The chief denied explanations and pleas for their release and contemplated on what charges to file against them more than eight hours of detention.
It took a further four hours, around 3 in the morning, before the 11 were given medico legal assistance where most of them were prescribed with painkillers and medicines for open wounds. After which, the 11 went back to the police station and still no decision of what charges will be filed against them.
Around 12 noon of July 5, mugshots of the progressive individuals were taken and were then put inside the precinct together with other detainees. The paralegal team were also not allowed to speak and talk to the detainees despite the station’s initial announcement that the 11 could be visited. Meanwhile, the three minors who were involved in the violent detention were initially released however instructed to return promptly for inquest proceedings. Police are still keen to press charges against the eleven activists and leaders.
After the paralegal team was barred from talking to the 11 even before a case was filed against them, one of them was finally allowed to talk to them and were only given a few minutes after a lawyer from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Laguna arrived to settle the case. Over 21 hours have passed, no charges have still been filed against them and still locked up in the tight cells of the Cabuyao Police Station along with other detainees.
As of seven in the evening, no decision has yet been made by the police station on the charges they will file against them including the three minors which were released earlier. The remaining eight are still behind bars and visitors are being refused by the police. Even members of the religious community for spiritual counseling and prayer service were denied to visit the detained. Supporters outside are continuously denied information about the conditions of the detained activists along their requests to place the political detainees where they are readily visible to them staying in vigil outside the station.
Defend Southern Tagalog’s Charm Maranan worries for the health and condition of the individuals especially that loud music played by men inside the station and cries for help from the direction of the women’s cell were heard from the station around 12 midnight.
“They are not common criminals. There has been no charge against them until now and their health is at risk as time flies.” said Maranan referring to the status of the Cabuyao 11.
Around four in the afternoon of July 6 and of almost 45 hours of being detained, the political detainees are now undergoing an inquest procedure. Concurrently, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) arrived at the station to visit and check the situation of the individuals but they were not able to talk to them as the detainees were on the inquest procedure. Instead, they obtained a statement from police officers along with Garduque and made them promise to allow the paralegal team to discuss and talk with the 11.
After the inquest proceedings, PNP Cabuyao finally arrived at ordering the release of the 11, however charged them with violation of quarantine protocols, BP 880 (Public Assembly Act of 1985) and resisting and disobedience. It was ten minutes before 9 in the evening. According to the City Prosecutor, supplementary evidence is needed to bring the case to court. Release for further investigation was sentenced to them.
The Cabuyao 11 and other supporting vigilants continue and strongly condemn the predicament experienced by them.
Maranan on a special episode of Radyo ng Bayan Southern Tagalog earlier said, “Sa bahagi naman ng paralegal team at legal counsel ng 11, sa kasulukuyan, tayo ay nage-explore ng possible legal remedies and options hinggil sa kung ano ang posibleng countercharges na ihahain natin laban sa mga arresting officers, pulis at militar na nanakit sa Cabuyao 11… most definitely, mananagot ang mga kapulisan at militar na talagang may ginawang paglabag sa karapatang-pantao.”
Earlier around four in the afternoon, eight of the Cabuyao 11 held a group press conference to publicly impart first-hand mistreatment they have experienced under the hands of PNP Cabuyao and 2nd ID Phil. Army.
Casey Cruz of BAYAN ST recalls how they were intimidated and agitated by the authorities most of the time even after their violent dispersal. Some officers even said to the 11 when they were first placed in the Barangay Hall that how come they seek for the [barangay] captain’s help when they have been brave and bold in the street before the arrest. Cruz argued that it was true and just normal that they looked for the captain since it is the barangay hall after all, while wondering why the captain was not around and mostly police and military were camped in the hall.
Gabriela ST’s Helen Catahay shared, on the other hand, their situation inside the prison cells.
“Di kami makatulog ng nakahiga. Nakaupo lang po kami dahil wala po talagang space, sobrang sikip po talaga. Sa loob ng selda ay nasa 163 po kami, halu-halo na po ang mga kalalakihan at kababaihan. May naki-tulog pa nga po samin na lalake dahil kapos po ang pwesto, kaya ang nangyayari po ay magdamag po kaming nakaupo. Ang mga babae po ay may mga sakit na, nilalagnat na po, inuubo, lalo na po yung buntis.”
Catahay ended her testament by calling to also meet the detainees’ needs behind bars, especially their health, although they have committed crimes.
Kyle Salgado of KARAPATAN-ST concluded their statements through ensuring that they will continue fighting for human rights and will not be deterred by the happening. “Sa pansamantalang paglaya namin, ay itutuon namin ang panahon para ipanawagan pa sa publiko ang [against sa] anti-terrorism act of 2020.” said Salgado.
Fight is not over yet
The plight, with all the violence and repression, suffered by the Cabuyao 11 happened a day after President Rodrigo Duterte affixed his signature on the controversial and widely-opposed Anti-Terrorism Bill last July 3, making it into a law.
Where activists were only practicing the constitutionally-enshrined right to free speech, expression and protest, the Terror Law reveals the government’s desperation in silencing dissents and deflating the swelling discontent of progressive people in a time that crises pile up from the current incompetent and fascist regime.
Although released from detention, charging of cases before them is still continuous. Several progressive groups invite the masses in calling for the dismissal of the case and the dropping of charges against #Cabuyao11. The fight for human rights is not over yet.
“Ipagpapatuloy natin ang ating paglaban at pagtanggol para sa karapatang-pantao at susulong tayo tungo sa higit pang mga tagumpay at para sa isang pamayanan, o komunidad at isang bansa na may paggalang sa karapatan at merong tunay na kapayapaan na nakabatay sa hustisyang panlipunan.” said Maranan. [P]