Progressive groups and dissenters staged massive protests all over the country on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s second-to-the-last State of the Nation Address (SONA) to call out the government to give effective solutions for the pandemic, however, it was met by mass arrests conducted by his police minions.
Prior to the SONA, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Debold Sinas said in public, “Walang usap-usap. Kapag may maglabas ng placard, huli agad.” He also said that officers dressed in civilian clothing will be deployed to ‘no protest zones’ to apprehend protesters.
As per the PNP Manual, police officers are not allowed to conduct arrests while in civilian clothing.
Human rights groups then argued that the Metro Manila Police Chief’s statement openly and stubbornly announced a grounded base of gratuitous action for the police officers, not only in the country’s capital but to other regions as well, to illegally arrest anyone who violated their law, only showing what the government is focusing on over the number of problems during this pandemic.
“Cavite 64” became a trending topic in social media as progressive groups made up of representatives from various sectors were accosted in Carmona, Cavite as an attempt to prevent them from participating in rallies last July 27. 64 representatives on public utility vehicles were halted and arbitrarily brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Carmona police station while on their way to the Kilos Katagalugan regional people’s address held in University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
Hours after, PNP Carmona chief inspector Diane dela Cruz del Rosario said in front of Commission of Human Rights (CHR) Region IV-A officers that no case shall be filed against the sixty-four. However, licenses of the drivers who joined them were said to be confiscated as well as ticketed.
Police then permitted the group to be on their way at around five in the afternoon just as the regional protest had ended. Due to this, the Cavite people’s delegates opted to hold a lightning rally right in front of the police station to condemn what happened to them.
Five members of jeepney driver group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) were illegally arrested while on their way to UP Diliman. According to the NCRPO’s Sinas, the police arrested the group only for flagging their union flag and placards that promote legitimate calls while traveling in Quezon City Circle.
In Tuguegarao, a member of the Kabataan Partylist Cagayan and League of Filipino Students Cagayan were arbitrarily arrested Monday afternoon by the Carig PNP after participating in a protest action against the closure of ABS-CBN and the Anti-Terror Law.
Cagayan provincial police chief Colonel Ariel Quilang said that the two teenagers were arrested due to the violation of Republic Act No. 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act” and Revised Penal Code Article 151 or disobedience to a person in authority.
He added that they were arrested as they were aged below 21 and must stay at home unless they are out for essential travel.
Meanwhile in Pandi, Bulacan, four members of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) were arrested by Bulacan police simply for allegedly staging an online rally coinciding with President Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address.
24 hours after the arrest, no charges were filed against them. The urban poor alliance also stated, however, that the four were forced to sign a form voluntarily waiving their rights under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code which sets restrictions on how long a person can be detained without charges filed, as well as having a “gag order” placed on them, preventing them from talking to anyone, including their families.
At the same area, thousands of newspaper copies of Pinoy Weekly stored in a house in Pandi, Bulacan identified as the office KADAMAY were illegally seized by at least eight Pandi police officers, Pinoy Weekly editor-in-chief, Kenneth Guda said.
When asked why the police were confiscating it, Pandi police chief Jun Alejandrino, who headed the raid, said the magazines “teaches the people to fight the government,” thus making them “illegal” up to the point of threatening them that they should give up the copies or else “may mangyayari.”
In regards to this, Pinoy Weekly had already filed a complaint before the Commission on Human Rights asked the commission to look into the alleged illegal confiscation of copies of their publications citing violation of press freedom, red-tagging, surveillance, and illegal search and seizure by government agencies and state security agents. [P]
Photo credits to Pinoy Weekly