Marikina court drops case vs 10 volunteers of Labor Day feeding program
MANILA, Philippines – The Marikina Prosecutors Office has dismissed the criminal complaints against 10 volunteer relief workers arrested in Marikina on Labor Day last year.
In a resolution dated Oct. 20, 2020, but made public Wednesday, the complaints for violation of Batas Pambansa 880 or the Public Assembly Act for holding public assembly with the proper permit, Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code or disobedience to authorities, and violation of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act have been dismissed “for lack of probable cause and insufficiency of evidence.”
The 10 volunteers – seven public utility vehicle drivers, two teachers, and one community volunteer – were manning a kitchen feeding program for the poor and disenfranchised due to the lockdown while carrying a placard calling for government aid and mass testing when they were arrested on May 1, 2020.
They were subjected to an inquest proceeding, but the city prosecutor opted to conduct a further investigation due to the insufficiency of evidence presented at that time.
After the preliminary investigation, the resolution signed by Assistant City Prosecutor David Gadit Jr. stated that the 10 volunteers could not be prosecuted for violating BP 880, specifically for holding public assembly without a permit.
The resolution explained that the law prohibits the holding of public assembly leaders or organizers. However, in this case, “the police officers failed to identify who is the leader or the organizer if there is any, of the subject mass gathering.”
Meanwhile, there is a “lack of probable cause” to prosecute the 10 volunteers for disobedience to authority “considering that not all elements of the crime are present.”
“Also, it is unclear what lawful order was given to the respondents that they allegedly disobeyed or in what manner did they resist or disobey the apprehending police-officers,” read the resolution.
For allegedly violating RA 11332, the resolution stated prohibited acts mentioned under the law are not present in the case.
“None of the foregoing circumstances are present in this case,” read the resolution.
Earlier, the National Prosecution Service said that the application of RA 11332 is only for public health authorities. The pronouncement was made after clearing Senator Koko Pimentel of violating health protocols.
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