QCPD goes after artist behind Marcos effigy burned at Sona
MANILA, Philippines — Looks like the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) is going hard on “polluters” — or at least the politically active kind.
The resident artist of the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) received a subpoena on Wednesday asking him to appear before the Office of the City Prosecutor to answer a complaint from the QCPD that accused him of causing air pollution.
It was in connection with an effigy created by Max Santiago and set on fire during a Bayan protest action in Quezon City that was directed against President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 24.
Santiago was the artist behind the papier mache artwork titled “Doble Kara (Two-faced),” which depicted a giant gold coin with a dual image of the president — a visual swipe at the Marcos ill-gotten wealth cases.
‘Disrespect to President’
The QCPD complaint, initiated by Staff Sgt. Mario Sembrano and Cpl. Paolo Navarro of the Anonas Police Station, alleged that the burning of the effigy during the Bayan rally “lasted for several minutes and greatly contributed to air pollution which grossly negates the government program in ensuring the protection of public health and the environment.”
The officers’ three-page joint affidavit asked that Santiago and three “John Does’’ be penalized for violating the Clean Air Act (Republic Act No. 8749) and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003).
It further accused Santiago and the unnamed Bayan activists of committing “a deliberate disrespect to the president and to the country” and explained that the QCPD was taking legal action “for them to not be imitated by other demonstrators and other citizens.”
How fascists ‘think’
In a statement condemning the QCPD complaint, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes called it a “clear [case of] repression hiding behind feigned concern for the environment.”
Reyes said it marked the first time Bayan faced such a complaint since the group began staging “counter-Sona” activities during the Estrada administration.
“Those environmental laws were not enacted to suppress free speech,” he said. “Only fascists would think that way.”
Bayan spokesperson Mong Palatino said the group would consult its lawyers and challenge this “harassment suit since this would set a dangerous precedent.”
“We will not allow the police to dictate what forms of expression can be done in exercising our right to dissent,’’ Palatino said.