Five labor organizers were arrested in Cebu for allegedly violating quarantine rules on Monday, November 30, during a protest on the 157th birth anniversary of Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio.
Arrested labor activists Dennis Derige, Myra Opada, Joksan Branzuela, Jonel Labrador, and Cristito Pangan, members of Partido Manggagawa (PM), were among those who protested in front of the Mactan Economic Zone in Lapu-Lapu City to commemorate Bonifacio Day on Monday.
The protest was also meant to decry the recent retrenchment of 300 workers by a garment firm on the island. In a statement to the media, Partido Manggagawa pointed out that the recent retrenchment came after a wave of mass layoffs of a total of 6,000 workers in the past 3 months.
Police Captain Jay Samson of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office Station 5 claimed that the 5 violated Lapu-Lapu City Ordinance No. 15-097-2020, which required residents to carry a quarantine pass when going out.
Rappler sought a copy of the said ordinance from Samson and the Lapu-Lapu City public information office, but has not received the document as of posting time.
“Actually when we arrived in the area, we advised them to just disperse. Because when we asked them if they had documents to conduct the said assembly, they cannot show anything to us. And when asked about the quarantine pass – we have an existing city ordinance in Lapu-Lapu, and they could not show us – they were arrested,” Samson said.
Samson said 3 of the protesters – Labrador, Branzuela, and Derige – will also be sued for disobeying a person in authority. He added that all 5 arrested protesters have met with their lawyer.
Partido Manggagawa Cebu spokesperson Rene Magtubo, in a phone interview with Rappler, stressed that protesters wore masks and observed physical distancing, among other things, during their Bonifacio Day protest.
When asked if the protesters indeed had quarantine passes during the protest, Magtubo did not answer directly.
“Wala namang guidelines sa freedom of expression na magdala ka ng quarantine pass. Ginagamit lang nila ang pandemya na ‘yan para supilin ang nagpoprotesta,” Magtubo said. (The guidelines for freedom of expression don’t include bringing a quarantine pass. They’re just using the pandemic to crack down on protesters.) – Rappler.com