PNP violated quarantine rules, put our volunteers’ health at risk – Anakpawis to Año
Manila, Philippines – “It’s the Philippine National Police (PNP), not our members, that are disobeying the quarantine protocols and putting the lives and health of people at risk,” This was the response of the militant Anakpawis Party-list to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, following his statement that members of the progressive group will be ‘rearrested’ if they will defy quarantine rules.
On April 19, at around 10:15 a.m., the six Anakpawis relief volunteers were apprehended at the checkpoint in the boundaries of San Jose Del Monte City and Norzagaray in Bulacan. They were on a humanitarian relief mission scheduled to deliver relief packs to a farming community of Sitio Kalye Onse, Barangay Bigte, Norzagaray, Bulacan, that are affected by the lockdown caused by the corona virus disease (COVID-19). Despite having a government-issued food pass and volunteers wearing face masks and observing physical distancing inside the vehicle, the police, Anakpawis claimed, illegally apprehended them and took them to Norzagaray police station for questioning.
Charges of violating the Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, and the Revised Penal Code on Inciding to Sedition werwe filed against them. Usurpation of Authorities was also charged against Casilao.
The relief volunteers and Casilao were released on Wednesday after posting bail at P40, 000 each.
“In case Secretary Año doesn’t know, our six volunteers during their 4-day incarceration were brought to the Norzagaray Municipal Hospital for medical procedures. This was the same hospital where 2nd Lt. Vince Magbanua, suspected of COVID-19, was declared dead on arrival last April 8. The Norzagaray PNP has basically put the lives and health of our volunteers at risk! What the police did was an utter violation of their order to contain and prevent the spread of the pandemic disease,” Ariel Casilao, former Anakpawis Party-list solon said in a statement.
“By compromising the health of our relief volunteers, their future relief operations are now affected as they are currently under quarantine as advised by our health colleagues,” Casilao, also Anakpawis National Vice President lamented.
Lastly, Anakpawis refuted the DILG’s statement the food pass issued by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to the fishers’ group PAMALAKAYA was ‘unauthorized’, claiming that the BFAR issued the food pass specifying in the application form that it was intended for ‘relief mission’.
“Why don’t Secretary Año ask BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona himself? We assert that we underwent through a legal and proper process in obtaining the food pass so that our relief packs, which mostly contain food, will be delivered to the needy families sans delay,” ended Casilao. ###