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Judge orders release of 8 detained in Cebu for anti-terror bill protest

CEBU CITY—A trial court judge has ordered the release of the seven protesters and a 19-year-old bystander who were arrested during a rally against the anti-terrorism bill outside the University of the Philippines Cebu campus last June 5.

Executive Judge Jenelyn Forrosuelo, also the presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 4, said there was no need for the eight to post bail since the cases filed against them was for summary procedure still.

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“Unless there exists some lawful cause/s that would warrant their continued detention, the court orders their immediate release,” she said in an order released to the parties past 4 p.m.

Forrosuelo ordered the accused to submit in 10 days counter-affidavits and testimony of witnesses to counter charges filed by police.

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Lawyer Ian Vincent Manticajon, one of the defense lawyers, said the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office has recommended P9,000 bail for each of the detainees.

“But the judge treated the case under summary procedure hence she ordered their immediate release with no requirement for bail. This is also because the charges filed were less serious,” he told the INQUIRER.

As of 6 p.m. on Monday, the police have yet to release the group collectively known as “Cebu 8” who were detained at the Waterfront Police Station.

They were UP Cebu students Joahanna Veloso, 22; Bernie Cañedo, 21, and Nar Athena Mae Porlas; April Dyan Gumanao, a volunteer of the Kabataan party-list; Jaime Paglinawan, 60, of the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Central Visayas; Al Ingking, 26, a UP alumnus; Janry Ubal, 29, of Food Not Bombs Cebu; and 19-year-old Clement Corominas Jr. who claimed to just pass by UP Cebu when the violent dispersal happened.

The Cebu City police earlier filed charges of violating the Public Assembly Act of 1985 and the Reporting of Communicable Disease law and resisting and disobeying persons in authority against the detainees.

The Cebu 8 was accused of violating the government’s ban on mass gatherings when they held a protest rally against the controversial anti-terrorism bill in front of UP Cebu’s entrance gate.

Cebu City Prosecutor Liceria Lofranco-Rabillas found probable cause and ordered the filing of the cases against the group at the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC).

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King Anthony Perez, spokesperson of the Cebu 8, at an online press conference, said the group would have used the amount donated by different groups to pay the bail bond of the detainees.

Perez said the group stopped accepting donations after the amount reached P300,000, just hours after the group was arrested on June 5.

He said the Cebu 8 was tested for coronavirus on Saturday.

Results released on Monday, he said, showed the detainees were negative for coronavirus.

Perez said he and other lawyers for the group were gathering “solid evidence” to file counter-charges against the policemen who were responsible for the arrest of the Cebu 8 last Friday (June 5).

The UP Cebu community has gathered 700 signatures from individuals and organizations to compel the university administration to file charges against the Cebu City Police Office for violating the 1989 UP-Department of National Defense Peace Accord which prohibits state forces from conducting any operations on any UP campus.

A copy of the petition has already been emailed to UP Cebu Chancellor Liza Corro, UP President Danilo Concepcion, and sectoral members of the Board of Regents, according to a report by Tug-ani, the official student publication of UP Cebu.

“This blatant violation of not only the Accord but also the 1987 Constitution should not go by (sic) unpunished,” the petition said.

“At a time when violations and crimes happen with impunity, UP Cebu should be firm in its stand for (sic) accountability and justice, especially if these violations target its constituents,” the statement read.

In a statement released on Sunday night, the administration of UP Cebu appealed for the immediate release of students and alumni who were arrested by policemen during the rally.

UP Cebu officials said they reviewed video footage of the violence and documented accounts of witnesses which all showed that the Cebu 9 was illegally arrested and detained and were just exercising the right to peaceful assembly.

“The constitutional right of individuals to express their views publicly and to hold protests peacefully and safely is (sic) not proscribed under any law,” the UP administration said.

“Recent disturbing events on the steamrolled passage of anti-terrorism legislation by Congress and reported cases of abuse of authority by state officials and their agents, all the more demonstrate, as an essential activity, the right to peaceful protest in an outdoor setting,” the UP administration said.

“Our students are not criminals and they were despicably manhandled by police force (sic) who were in full battle gear and heavy firearms during the arrest,” it said.

“This is totally unacceptable. As a democratic country in precarious conditions, we cannot tolerate intimidation or the unnecessary show and use of force in any form, especially when carried out by agents of the state imbued with constitutional duties to protect the public,” it added.

Edited by TSB
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TAGS: arrest, Detainees, dispersal, Police, protesters, rally, Students, Terrorism, UP campus, Violence
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