CEBU, Philippines — Police authorities arrested atleast 7 students and members of progressive groups in Cebu who joined a rally against the anti-terrorism bill in front of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu on a friday morning.
Despite the 1989 UP-DND accord, prohibiting police and military forces from entering the UP campuses without express permission from the university administration, armed forces in full riot gear dispersed the #JunkTerrorBill protest in UP Cebu and arrested protesters. Authorities also arrested one bystander who did not participate in the rally in front of the University of the Philippines.
According to UP Cebu’s publication, Tug-ani, the SWAT team arrested Jaime Paglinawan of Bayan Central Visayas, Joahanna Veloso of NUSP, UP alumni Al Ingking, UP Cebu USC Vice Chairperson Bern Cañedo, Dyan Gumanao of Kabataan Partylist Cebu, Nar Porlas of Anakbayan UP Cebu, and Janry Ubal of Food Not Bombs Cebu.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Melbert Esguerra deputy director for administration of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) cited alleged violations of general community quarantine (GCQ) guidelines. “They violated GCQ protocol, mass gathering and not bringing of quarantine passes,” Ligan said
“We gave them 10 minutes to disperse, but they did not heed our call. Hence, we decided to arrest them,” he said in an interview with Inquirer.net.
Despite multiple warnings that their time was up, the group allegedly continued with their program. Police officers, both in uniform and plainclothes, then chased and arrested the protesters, according to ABS-CBN news. They also blocked the entrance of healthcare professionals into the UP Cebu campus despite there being injured protestors.
Joahanna Veloso of the National Union of Students of the Philippines said they followed GCQ protocols during their protest. “We have our passes, if that is the issue. They should have checked that before we started our protest,” she said.
Senator Kiko Pangilinan sought the protesters’ release, saying that the police should be questioned for wrongful arrest and the violation of the 1989 UP-DND Accord.
In a statement, the Philippine National Police urged the public to avoid mass protests at this time of public health emergency. They reminded the public that “as responsible Filipino citizens, we should avoid any opportunity for possible human to human transmission of a deadly virus that even UP scientists themselves are trying so hard to eradicate.” They agency also expressed support for alternative means to exercise freedom of expression.
“In this time of public health crisis, the safety of the human lives is paramount.”