Cops summon 4 for online protest; Marikina arrests questioned
MANILA, Philippines — Can Filipinos now be summoned for holding protest actions online?
The Valenzuela City police on Friday briefly detained four members of different cause-oriented groups who took to social media for a coordinated act of protest on Labor Day.
Brought in for questioning at the Malinta police precinct were Fidel Columna, leader of Kilos na Homeless; and Marlin Abique and Danny and Ann Calunsad, members of Liga ng Manggagawa sa Valenzuela City.
The four earlier posted photos of placards on social media that called for an end to labor contractualization, higher hazard pay for workers and increased safety measures in factories as part of their Labor Day mobilization, said Macario San Agustin, Metro Manila media officer of the urban poor group Kadamay.
“Until now there is no concrete reason why they were taken by the police. On our part, we see this as an attack and intimidation against progressive groups who are calling for the protection of workers,” San Agustin told the Inquirer in an interview on Saturday.
The group was questioned about their protest and held at the police station for five hours before they were released at 9 p.m. on Friday.
The Valenzuela chief of police, Col. Fernando Ortega, did not immediately respond to the Inquirer when sought for an interview regarding the incident.
Labor groups took to social media to conduct their Labor Day rallies amid the prohibition on mass gatherings in public as part of the quarantine measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The police earlier warned protesters who would defy the ban.
In Marikina City, the police on Friday arrested 10 people while they were distributing relief goods and carrying placards calling on the government to conduct mass testing for the coronavirus. The police booked them for alleged violation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
They were freed on Saturday after the city prosecutor’s office said there was “nothing on record to support the accusation” against them. The 10 were initially charged with violation of the Public Assembly Act of 1985 and for resistance and disobedience to persons in authority.
Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro, who earlier called for their release, pointed out that they were just “exercising freedom of expression” and that the police “overreacted” and “misinterpreted” the placards.
The volunteers, the mayors said, were actually promoting the city government’s advocacy in support of mass testing, especially after Marikina’s own testing center was finally approved by the Department of Health.
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