Consecutive arrests of activists in Caloocan City and Cebu City, vindicate demand to #JunkTerrorBill
Manila, Philippines – The Anakpawis Party-list slammed the latest arrests of activists, including the “Piston 6” and the “Cebu 8” by elements of the Philippine National Police and stressed that these are concrete basis that proves that the broad demand to junk the “Anti-Terrorism Bill” or the “Terror Bill” branded by activists. The “Piston 6” were the poor drivers who held a small protest “Busina Balik Pasada” in Caloocan City last June 2 and were arrested by the police for allegedly violating prohibition against “non-essential” mass gathering and “resistance and disobedience to a person in authority.” Moreover, the “Cebu 8” were arrested by the police inside the campus of University of the Philippines – Cebu during a “Junk Terror Bill” protest yesterday.
“Whatever legal garbage the police used as the basis for the arrest of activists, they only confirmed the criticisms against the ‘Terror Bill’ that it is prone to abuse and government armed forces are perpetrators of human rights abuses. At present, they are already utilizing all existing laws or rules, which are all violative of the people’s constitutional rights, thus, it would be worse if the bill is enacted into law,” Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao said in a press statement.
The former lawmaker cited his own experience when he and volunteers of Tulong Anakpawis relief mission were arrested in Norzagaray town, Bulacan on April 19. They were detained for two nights until being released on April 22.
“Our volunteers were held at 10am and it took the police all afternoon to think of what charges to file against us. Finally, they charged us with violating Republic Act 11332 or the ‘Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act,’ added sedition charges referring to publications carried by the volunteers, and usurpation, because they are stupid enough to be unfamiliar of the courtesy to former house members,” he shared.
The first charge was dismissed by the Norzagaray Municipal Trial Court on an order dated May 13. Thus, he claimed that charges against the recently arrested activists were definitely unjust and violative of the Bill of Rights provision stated in the 1987 constitution.
“Generally, these arrests aim to ‘nip the bud’ of protests under the general community quarantine. The people all have the moral basis to protest against the criminal incompetence of the pandemic response, and the callous prioritization of railroading the “Terror Bill.” There is a mounting opposition against the bill, and support to ‘Piston 6’ and ‘Cebu 8’, thus, the Duterte government is desperate to repress mass actions, by sowing the terror of being arrested, at the cost of bulldozing people’s basic rights,” he said.
Finally, he called for broad people’s support for the immediate freedom of ‘Piston 6’ and ‘Cebu 8,’ and incessant demand to “#JunkTerrorBill.” ###