BAGONG Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said more than 50 people were arrested Friday, May 1, as they marked Labor Day with protests.
Reyes said among those arrested were 40 people who took part in a caravan calling for justice for slain Bayan Muna coordinator Jory Porquia in Iloilo City in Western Visayas.
In Luzon, 10 were arrested at a feeding program in Marikina City and two were arrested for staging a protest inside a subdivision in San Isidro in Rodriguez, Rizal.
“May 1, 2020 is marked by mass arrests amid a pandemic...Sinusupil ang mamamayan, pero POGOs pinapayagan,” Reyes said in a Twitter post.
Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro called for the release of the 10 individuals who were arrested for carrying placards calling for mass testing for the novel coronavirus while distributing relief goods.
Teodoro said it was a relief operation that strictly observed social distancing and was in compliance with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
“Nag-overreact ‘yung PNP, eh. Hindi dapat inaresto dahil wala namang ginagawang masama yung mga kababayan natin...Sinasabihan ko ngayon ang ating kapulisan na wala silang kasong maaring isampa dun sa mga taong ito,” he said.
“’Yung mga taong naroroon ay nag paalam naman sa atin para mag bigay ng relief operation at bahagi ito ng relief at humanitarian aid na ibinibigay natin dun sa mga komunidad,” he added.
Teodoro said the call for free mass testing is in line with his advocacy for mass testing through the Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory which he initiated.
“Maaring may placards silang dala pero May 1 ngayon, eh, bahagi ito ng pag-e-exercise nitong constitutional rights nila na freedom of expression,” he said.
“Pinapahayag lang nila ang pangangailangan para sa free mass testing. Dahil ‘yung mahihirap ito naman talaga ang hinihingi, eh, ‘yung libreng mass testing para sa ganun alam nila kung positive or negative sila sa Covid-19,” Teodoro said.
Brigadier General Bernard Banac, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, identified the arrested persons in Rizal as Rastica Clarito and Reynaldo Dulay, leaders of the Buklurang Manggagawa ng Pilipinas in the said area.
Other members of the group scampered away upon seeing the approaching cops. The group had staged a protest inside the Eastwood Subdivision, an activity that the police warned is not allowed even on Labor Day because of the social distancing protocol under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Banac said the two activists will be charged for violation of the ECQ guidelines.
In Tondo, Manila, a labor group also conducted a protest on Labor Day to call for government assistance and mass testing.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno, meanwhile, held its first virtual protest via Zoom to call for mass testing and treatment as well as adequate relief and support for workers, quarantined communities, and others affected by the lockdown.
Policemen were deployed Friday to areas that are usually used as venues for mass protests such as Mendiola and Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila as well as Welcome Rotunda in Quezon City and Quezon City Circle.
These were empty and silent on Labor Day. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)