MANILA, Philippines – After 32 hours of detention, the student who heckled President Benigno Aquino III during an Independence Day speech in Naga City was released by the authorities.
Pio Mijares was finally released from jail at 5:20 pm on Friday, June 13.
Mijares, a 19-year-old psychology major at the Ateneo de Naga University, spent Philippine Independence day detained at the Naga City Police Office after disrupting the President while he was delivering his speech.
“Patalsikin ang pork barrel king! Walang pagbabago sa Pilipinas! (Oust the pork barrel king! There’s no change in the country!)” he shouted, around 40 meters away from the President.
According to a Bicol Standard report, he is affiliated with student groups Kabataan, Youth Act Now, and Anakbayan.
Mijares was apprehended at around 9 am by the Presidential Security Group (PSG). He was supposed to be released at 9 pm on the same day.
However, according to his friend and fellow Anakbayan member Karlo Barde said Mijares was “forced” to stay overnight at the police station.
Mijares is facing two criminal charges: one for tumults and other disturbances of public order, and another for assault upon an agent of a person in authority.
In order to facilitate the release of Mijares, Anakbayan paid bail of P8,000: P6,000 for physical assault and P2,000 for alarm and scandal.
Groups against the arrest
Student groups condemned the arrest of Mijares, adding that he only exercised his right to free speech.
“It is enraging that students like Mijares get arrested for practicing their constitutional right to free speech and expression. By having Mijares arrested, President Aquino has shown that he is capable of doing anything just to silence his critics,” Youth Act Now spokesperons Victor Villanueva said.
On the other hand, the League of Filipino Students (LFS) saluted Mijares for “fearlessly dismantling the pork king’s lies.” The group also demanded for MIjares’ immediate release.
“By arresting a student who only exposed the real situation of the country and expressed anger on behalf of the people, Aquino has once again revealed his dictator-like understanding of freedom and equality,” LFS spokesperson Charlotte Velasco declared. – with a report from Rucha Lim/Rappler.com
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