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Cebu 8: No regrets in holding rally to protest anti-terror bill

CEBU CITY –– They may have spent 72 hours in jail.

But the eight persons, including a 19-year-old bystander, who were arrested for allegedly violating the government’s ban on mass gatherings at the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu campus last June 5, won’t simply be cowed down.

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UP Cebu student Joahanna Veloso, 22, who was among those arrested, said they did not have regrets in holding a demonstration to express their grievances against the controversial anti-terrorism bill.

“(In fact), we are working on yet another protest,” she said in a virtual press conference on Tuesday, May 9.

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Veloso, vice president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, said they were hoping to inspire more people to stand up for what is right.

“We want to educate and arouse Cebuanos so they will know the real situation of our government now. We hope more people will fight for the common good. Let us not be silenced,” she said.

Veloso and her seven companions were released from detention past 6 p.m. on June 8, three days after they were arrested for holding a rally against the anti-terrorism bill outside the UP Cebu campus.

Wearing face masks, they stood half a meter apart from each other outside the Waterfront Police Station as they raised their clenched fists as a sign of solidarity.

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

On the same day they were released, the family of Ingking claimed unidentified men onboard a Silver Avanza vehicle “visited” their residence at 1:50 p.m. to inquire if the UP alumnus lives there.

“The men asked Al Ingking’s family whether he lives there and how long he has been an activist. Before departing, the unidentified men who claimed to be from the ‘government,’ left a death threat concerning Al Ingking: Badlonga na ninyo kay sa sunod ninyo mahibaw’an naa nana siya sa kabaong. (Call his attention because the next thing you know is he is already inside a coffin),” read a Facebook post of the Youth Act Now Against Tyranny Cebu, echoing the information they got from Ingking’s family.

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King Anthony Perez, the spokesperson of the group collectively called “Cebu 8,” said they were looking into the report to determine its veracity.

The incident, he said, was already reported to officials of the village where Ingking lives.

Speaking to reporters shortly after they were released, Paglinawan of the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Central Visayas said they would continue to keep watch against government abuses and other policies that would be detrimental to the public.

“Despite our recent experience of getting arrested and jailed, we will not hide in fear. It has strengthened our conviction to stand up for what is right,” the 60-year-old activist said.

“As the most senior among the arrested protesters, I have inspired them to keep fighting. We will not be discouraged by what happened,” he added.

Executive Judge Jenelyn Forrosuelo of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 4 in Cebu City ordered the release of the “Cebu 8” after the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office elevated the charges to the court.

The judge deemed it proper not to require the eight accused to pay any bail bond since the cases against them were covered by the rule on the summary procedure.

Forrosuelo, instead, ordered the accused to submit their counter-affidavits, as well as the testimonies of their witnesses within 10 days from receipt of the order, in answer to the accusations of the police.

The Cebu City police have filed charges against the accused of violating the Public Assembly Act of 1985, the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases, and resistance and disobedience to persons in authority.

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TAGS: arrests, ban on mass gatherings, Philippine news updates, Regions, Students, University of the Philippines, UP Cebu
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