Prosecutor orders ‘Pride 20’ released for further investigation
MANILA, Philippines — After spending four nights in detention at the Manila Police District (MPD) headquarters, 17 of the 20 people arrested during a Pride march last week were ordered released for further investigation on Tuesday night.
The lawyer of the group dubbed “Pride 20” said that the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office had approved the recommendation to release her clients from police custody.
Bahaghari national spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas, who was among those arrested, said they would file countercharges against the MPD.
‘Throwing first brick’
“We will throw the first brick,” she said, referring to the brick believed to have sparked the 1969 Stonewall uprising that represented a turning point for the gay rights movement.
“The fight will continue. We will not let the illegal arrest and the illegal detention slide,” Salinas stressed in a Facebook Live video that was posted shortly after their release at 7 p.m. Tuesday. At the same time, she warned that should the antiterror bill lapse into law, there would be more attacks against other individuals.
Last Friday, the group of activists marked Pride Month—an annual celebration by the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community—with a march in which they called for equal rights and better assistance from the government. They also spoke out against the antiterror bill and jeepney ban while wearing masks and observing physical distancing.
The protest ended with the group being dispersed and policemen commandeering the group’s vehicles. Twenty of them were arrested, but three were later released as they were minors.
They were charged with resistance and disobedience to authority, illegal assembly and violation of Republic Act No. 11332, or the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases.
Lopez said that it took time for the resolution for the group’s release to be issued as the city prosecutor’s office was open only on Tuesdays and Fridays.
They plan to file countercharges against the MPD this week or early next week.
“We will definitely question the illegality of the arrest,” she told the Inquirer.
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