IN PHOTOS: Groups protest arrest of Piston’s George San Mateo
IN PHOTOS: Groups protest arrest of Piston’s George San Mateo

Maria Salvador Tan

The groups condemn the 'illegal and arbitrary' arrest of transport leader George San Mateo on Tuesday, December 5. Senator Grace Poe says it's even 'unclear what exactly San Mateo violated.'

MANILA, Philippines – Several groups staged a rally Tuesday afternoon, December 5, after Quezon City police arrested Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) leader George San Mateo.

Piston, Kadamay, and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) gathered at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City to condemn the “illegal and arbitrary” arrest of San Mateo earlier on Tuesday.

“The arrest was also treacherous and malicious given the fact that the trumped-up charges filed against San Mateo were a mere minor case and could have been settled without the arrest,” said Elmer Labog, KMU chairperson.

The arrest order was issued Friday, December 1, alleging that San Mateo violated the Public Service Act.

Leftist groups condemned San Mateo’s arrest, calling the Duterte administration “paranoid.”

Senator Grace Poe, chair of the chamber’s committee on public services, said the timing of the release of the warrant was suspicious, given that the transport group leaders were scheduled to dialogue with her. 

“Everyone has the right to peaceably assemble. It is unclear based on the cited section of the Public Service Act what exactly San Mateo violated. If holding a strike is tantamount to a violation under any memorandum of the LTFRB, then the proper penalty should have been a fine or suspension or cancellation of their franchise, not threatening their leader with incarceration,” the senator said in a statement on Tuesday, moments before San Mateo’s arrest.

Here are some photos during the rally:

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