MANILA, Philippines – Artists and musicians are raising funds to help post bail for 3 activists who remain in detention a week after they were arrested while spray-painting political slogans on the posts of the Light Rail Transit Recto Station in Manila.
Four members of the group Panday Sining, including a minor, were charged with vandalism after policemen caught them in spray-painting public property last Saturday, November 30, after a Bonifacio Day program. Their messages included calls to end martial law.
Three of the suspects were identified as Jeanne Vaughn Quijano, 24; Joven Laura, 24; and Mikhail Collado, 18. The minor has been released.
Panday Sining said those who arrested their members were plainclothes men, who allegedly manhandled the activists.
It was not the first time the group’s members were caught spray-painting on public spaces in Manila. Over a month ago, they did the same on the walls of UN Avenue and the Lagusnilad underpass. This latest act came after Manila Mayor Isko Moreno appealed to them not to repeat it and after public school students and volunteers painted the walls clean again.
In a statement on Wednesday, December 4, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said the arrest of 4 members of Panday Sining was “just and lawful.” He also ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to go after more vandals.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya earlier on reiterated that vandalism is a form of malicious mischief under Article 327 of the Revised Penal Code. It includes the act of causing damage to a property or any other thing used in common by the public.
On Monday, December 2, Panday Sining called on “our fellow artista ng bayan (fellow artists of the nation)” to help raise funds for the arrested activists.
The artists’ group is selling artworks online to raise funds. Those who wish to know more about the fundraiser may contact the following number: 0927-217-5465.
Other artists are also selling artwork online to raise funds for Panday Sining.
On Saturday, December 7, a fundraiser gig by No Face Records and the Flying Lugaw will be held at Mow’s Bar, Matalino Street, Quezon City. It will feature performances by BP Valenzuela and AHJU$$I among others.
Merchandise from Panday Sining, Shonenbat Collective, and RESBAK will be available at the gig.
A donation box will be passed around during the show. All proceeds will go to the legal fees and expenses of the arrested Panday Sining members.
Doors will open at 6 pm, with an entrance fee of P150.
Statements of support
The Atenean Cultural Organizations reiterated that the arrest was an ”evident attack on the Filipino people’s right to dissent.”
“As artists and cultural workers, we recognize that art goes beyond the four walls of art galleries and museums. To make use of alternative spaces, to convey one’s message of societal injustice, is by no means criminal,” the group said in a statement.
The group said such arrest sets the precedence for those who dare expose, criticize, and fight the current administration.
For the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, arresting the artist activists on the same day that commemorated the legacy of nationalist and revolutionary Andres Bonifacio was “downright absurd and offensive.”
“This is nothing compared to the blood on the streets that this regime created with the relentless attacks and killings of different sectors. Protest art, during this time of the aggravating fascist attacks, is not only a necessity to call for change, but an essential in revealing the injustices of the administration and to send messages to the masses,” Panday Sining College of St Benilde said.
Netizens stormed Twitter with calls to immediately release the arrested activists as #FreePandaySining4 and #FreeTheArtists trended on Wednesday night, December 4. They also used the platform to share artworks and creative pieces to highlight the importance of creative expression and protest art.