Cops arrested 4 relief volunteers, and 14 beneficiaries at Barangay Central, Quezon City after they distributed face shields, prepared food at a community kitchen, and then held a protest on Labor Day, Friday, May 1.
According to their lawyer Maria Sol Taule, University of the Philippines Diliman students Joshua Marcial, Jandeil Roperos, and Jim Bagano, along with College Editor's Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) member Anton Narciso III led the activities.
Along with 14 residents, they were summoned by barangay officials on Friday at around 1 pm and then turned over to policemen. The cops then detained them at Camp Karingal, the headquarters of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).
Taule has been told by cops that her clients did not carry quarantine passes, but she explained that no law explicitly penalized the failure of bringing the passes outside their homes.
In previous cases, police used Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act to sue lockdown violators for disobeying the national government's policy to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The arrest was slammed by CEGP, calling their detention as a case of "political crackdown."
"There is no law that criminalizes hosting relief operations. We call for their immediate release and an end to the current political crackdown being done by the police upon progressive groups," the CEGP said in a statement.
Just on Friday morning, 10 feeding program volunteers were also arrested in Marikina City for taking out a placard calling the government for help. Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro has since ordered their release, saying cops "overreacted."
In her own statement, rights group Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay called on the public to stand with the arrested volunteers and beneficiaries, saying, "these should make everyone realize that it is but just and it is but right to speak out and act for our people’s rights and wellbeing."
Rappler has sought the comment of the QCPD but they have yet to reply as of posting. – 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.