Tulong Anakpawis – Sagip Kanayunan relief frontliners out on bail – Anakpawis
Manila, Philippines – Three days after being ‘immorally and unfoundedly’ held in Norzagaray police station, 6 volunteers of Tulong Anakpawis – Sagip Kanayunan relief drive, and former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel ‘Ayik’ Casilao who came to their aid, are now free after posting bail of P40, 000 each.
On April 19, at around 10:15 a.m., the said 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. Despite having a government-issued food pass and volunteers wearing face masks and observing physical distancing inside the vehicle, the police 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, with Usurpation of Authorities added charge against Casilao.
“We extend our sincere gratitude to our friends, colleagues, and families who campaigned for our release and contributed for our bail. We assert that our volunteers did nothing wrong and did not violate any of the quarantine rules, contrary to the absurd charges of the Norzagaray police. It was an attack on activists carrying out humanitarian activities and adhered to the bayanihan spirit in this time of an emergency situation,” Ariel Casilao, former representative and National Vice President of Anakpawis Party-list said in a statement sent to media outfits.
Anakpawis urged the public to condemn what they call as ‘martial law-like’ approach to the medical crisis, instead of an extensive medial solution to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our illegal arrest and detention expose the government’s failure in addressing the pandemic, that instead of a medical solution, it is resorting to arrests and imprisonment, which basically defeat the purpose of physical distancing especially if being detained in congested prison cells,” Casilao added.
Finally, the former solon said the Tulong Anakpawis – Sagip Kanayunan will continue to deliver relief aid to communities of farmers, fisherfolk, and urban poor that are hardly hit by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“It is both right and duty of every Filipino to aid those in need. The government has no moral authority to sabotage the relief efforts of activists. The delivery of nutri-lief packs to the impoverished communities will continue,” ended Casilao. ###