labor rights

Jailed for a week, Labor Day protesters fight for right to bail

Lian Buan

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Jailed for a week, Labor Day protesters fight for right to bail

Chaos mars Labor Day protest as police officers and firefighters block activists from marching near the US embassy in Manila on May 1, 2024.


(1st UPDATE) The six activists each need to post bail amounting to P42,000 over the Labor Day protest

MANILA, Philippines – Six activists who joined the traditional Labor Day protests in Manila on May 1 have been in jail for a week now, awaiting the procedures for bail that they had to fight for instead of being available to them immediately after their arrest.

Azrael de Guzman, Ellyza Austria, and four others whose identities Rappler is withholding because their families have not been informed yet, were arrested without warrants at 11:42 am on May 1, during the protest in front of the United States embassy in Manila.

Manila police filed complaints of illegal assembly, direct assault, disobedience, and malicious mischief against the six, according to court documents. These are bailable light offenses, and in these type of situations, the law set a procedure to be able to charge and set bail quickly so that those arrested can regain freedom within a maximum of 36 hours.

What happened instead was a delay in the proceedings which extended the detention of the activists to a week. The activists even had to file an urgent petition to set bail on the two-day mark of their detention.

As of writing time on Tuesday, May 7, the activists were still in the process of posting P36,000 bail each and submitting the requirements.

What happened?

Under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, people arrested without a warrant shall be charged and brought to court within 36 hours. For the Labor Day protesters, they should have been brought to court, with bail set, the next day.

In the case of the Labor Day protesters, only an inquest proceeding happened on May 2. An inquest is an expedited type of preliminary investigation done by prosecutors for people arrested without warrants. The purpose is to quickly charge them, so they can post bail immediately.

The Manila prosecutor was not able to immediately resolve the complaints which extended the detention of the activists to a week.

On May 3, the activists had to file an urgent petition to set bail before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC). But a judge said the court “cannot procure the appearance of any public prosecutor” that day, resetting the hearing on bail for May 6 – another extension.

On May 6, the hearing pushed through and that was the only time that the prosecutor was able to file a submission to the court – not the resolution to charge the activists, but a certification intending to charge them of illegal assembly and direct assault.

Manila RTC Branch 17 Judge Carolina Icasiano-Sison followed a rule that says any person in custody who is not yet charged can apply for bail in any court within the same area of their detention facility. The judge set their bail at P42,000 each. (Editor’s note: We previously reported P36,000.)

The bail for illegal assembly (violation of Batasang Pambansa 880) was P6,000, and the bail for direct assault (violation of Article 148 of the revised penal code) was P36,000. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.