MANILA

20 Pride March participants arrested

MANILA. Twenty Pride March participants are arrested and taken to the Manila Police District on June 26, 2020. (Photo from Bahaghari Facebook)

TWENTY Pride March participants who protested against the anti-terrorism bill were arrested after police dispersed them in Mendiola Friday, June 26, 2020.

Police Captain Arnold Echalar, Manila Police District General Assignment and Investigation Section chief, said they were arrested for violating the prohibition on mass gatherings.

Echalar said charges of disobedience to a person in authority will also be filed against the arrested individuals.

Those arrested were 10 members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) organization Bahaghari, eight allies, and two drivers. They were brought to the Manila Police District.

Posted by Bahaghari on Thursday, June 25, 2020


In a tweet, Bahaghari said its members did not violate any law as they complied with the social distancing protocol.

“Kami po, kasama ang ibang grupo, ay mapayapang nagprotesta nang walang nilalabag na physical distancing,” the group said.

Echalar denied that the arresting officers did not inform the protesters about their supposed violation.

He said the arrests were made after a protester sprayed one policeman with an unknown liquid.

"Hindi po totoo 'yan, bawal kasi ang pulis magsalita sa media para ma-prevent 'yung technicality. Upon the turnover dito, sinabi naman 'yung circumstance, so mayroong violation 'yung mga hinuli. Kasi unang-una violation nila, illegal assembly, tapos RA 11332 kasi nga nilabag nila, under GCQ pa tayo, 'yung mass gathering," Echalar said.

"'Yung nag-trigger ng pagkakaaresto nila eh 'yung isa sa kanila eh inassault 'yung pulis natin. Inisprayan ng unknown na liquid, doon nagtrigger 'yung arestuhan," he added.

Makabayan bloc lawmakers have condemned the arrest.

They alleged that human rights were being violated even before the anti-terrorism bill is signed into law.

ACT-Teachers Representative France Castro said the arrest only proves that the proposed anti-terror bill should not be approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It is very ironic that activists fighting against state fascism and tyranny were met with police violence and illegal arrest, yet it proves our point that the terror bill should never be signed into law,” she said.

Duterte has until July 9 to act on the bill before it lapses into law.

Kabataan Representative Sarah Jane Elago also slammed the arrest, saying that the right to join peaceful protests are not prohibited during a public health emergency.

“Hindi suspendido ang batayang karapatan sa mapayapang asembliya sa ilalim ng public health emergency,” she said.

“Mahigpit na nagpatupad ang Pride protesters ng hakbang pangkalusugan sa paninindigan para sa tuloy na laban para sa pantay na karapatan. Pride is protest,” she added.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, for her part, said the arrest proves why civilians are scared of the proposed anti-terrorism law.

“Nakakabahala na kahit mismo sa Pride Month ay inaresto ang mga LGBTQ+ at allies na mahinahon, mapayapa, at naka-social distancing na nananawagan para sa kanilang mga karapatan,” she said.

“Magtataka pa rin ba tayo kung bakit takot ang mga tao sa Anti-Terror Law? Huwag natin kalimutan: Covid ang kalaban, hindi ang mamamayan,” she added. (SunStar Philippines)

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