Policemen under the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) tried to nab 4 student artists who were painting a mural saying "All cops are bastards," but failed to do so after a paralegal stopped the attempted arrest.
Three QCPD policemen entered the Sitio San Roque compound in Quezon City around 2 pm on Monday, January 18, after a security guard tipped them off that the students were painting a protest mural.
The students – one 17-year-old, two 18-year-olds, and one 19-year-old – were with the Save San Roque movement and were painting walls with messages critical of the government.
The police tried to arrest them but the students were able to call for a paralegal to intervene. The paralegal, Nanoy Rafael of the Save San Roque movement, stepped in as police were about to arrest the students.
"Pinalibutan sila ng pulis kaya sumugod ako doon. Ang paliwanag ko sa kanila, karapatan nila na manawagan nang ganyan. Naiintindihan ng kabataan 'yan. Sila ang namili kung ano ang isusulat," Rafael told Rappler in a phone interview.
(The police surrounded the students so I rushed there. I explained to the police that it was within the students' rights to say that. The students understand that. They chose what to say.)
Rafael said the policemen carried fliers containing anti-communist messages. One of the policemen was also spotted carrying a pistol. The policemen only introduced themselves after Rafael asked them who they were. Rafael noted their names: Dimaporo, Guillermo, and Figueroa.
According to Rafael, the students painted murals as part of a project to to start a school and a tanimang bayan (community farming area) inside the sitio, which is one of the poorest in Quezon City.
Save San Roque photo
The dialogue escalated, Rafael said, when he mentioned the Tarlac killings in December, where a Parañaque policeman was caught on video shooting dead a mother and son point-blank. He said the angered policemen ordered them to go the police station.
“Aarestuhin na namin kayo. Sumama kayo sa presinto (We are arresting you. Come with us to the precinct),” Rafael recalled one of the policemen saying.
Rafael demanded that the policemen declare what law they violated. The police apparently mocked him in reply, saying, “Paralegal ka pero hindi mo alam ang batas (You’re a paralegal but you don’t know the law)?”
Rafael and the students refused to come with the policemen. They tried to take videos and photos, but the policemen demanded that they stop. Eventually, the police relented, but not without dropping threat, Rafael recounted.
“Aaraw-arawin namin kayo. Uubusin namin kayo dito (You will face us every day. We will finish all of you),” Rafael recounted the police as saying.
This is not the first time that police were accused of abuse in the area. In April last year, 21 San Roque residents were arrested after staging a protest to demand help from the government.
They were detained for violating lockdown rules banning mass gatherings and protests, which the police have invoked in many anti-government demonstrations under the pandemic.
The same month, the Quezon City police also stormed the sitio's community kitchens for allegedly violating lockdown rules.
Rappler sought the comment of the QCPD through its public information office, but it has yet to reply as of posting time. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.