MRT critic attends inquest, awaits release

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2016 05:03 PM | Updated as of Aug 24 2016 07:13 PM

MANILA – Commuter's rights advocate, poet Angelo Suarez, attended an inquest and was awaiting temporary release as of Wednesday afternoon. 

At an inquest on Wednesday morning, the fiscal said employees of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) who filed the complaint against Suarez failed to present proper documents showing they were authorized to file it on behalf of MRT management, according to Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), who attended the inquest. 

Earlier, Suarez's camp attempted to meet with MRT management for a dialogue to dismiss the complaint, but Reyes said the general manager of the MRT did not arrive. 

The fiscal was still waiting for the city chief inquest fiscal to approve the order, as of posting. 

Meanwhile, Suarez has already been returned to the Quezon City Police Station 10 to await his release. 

Reyes said, they learned that MRT management would still pursue the vandalism case.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Suarez's partner Donna Miranda said that, as of this writing, they were still awaiting word regarding his release, pending approval of the chief prosecutor’s office.

If the papers are not signed by 5 p.m., said Miranda, Suarez would again be spending the night at the police station.

In a social media update at 5:30 p.m., Miranda said that Suarez was still in the custody of the police because they were told that the person tasked to sign his release left the office at 4 p.m.

"MRT is still pushing their case as we speak," said Miranda, adding that their counsel Easy Fagella and legal advisers are continuing to negotiate with transport officials.

Police detained Suarez Tuesday night for allegedly vandalizing a train panel. He was stopped by a security guard at the Quezon Avenue station, and they stayed at a fast-food outlet near the station prior to being picked up by police for questioning. 

WATCH: Kritiko ng MRT, tiklo dahil sa pag-vandalize umano ng tren

Advocacy groups have called for his immediate release. 

"His arrest is a clear case of harassment against protests vs [the decrepit state of the MRT] and privatization of train services…Whatever charges are filed are clearly baseless and should be dropped," youth group Anakbayan said in a statement.

The Train Riders Network (TREN), of which Suarez is a member, said that they find it "disturbing and disgusting" how Suarez was arrested, given that he has "done nothing but speak truth to power while those who profit from illegal and unjust fare hikes…roam free."

Literary group Kilometer 64 also questioned why he has remained in the Kamuning Police Station since Tuesday night. 

MRT management said that Suarez’s arrest was not politically related. He was arrested allegedly “in flagrante delicto” while vandalizing one of the MRT3 cars, they said in a statement.

When a train is vandalized, MRT officials said, it will have to be pulled out to be cleaned, negatively affecting operations.

“While the management encourages freedom of expression, it maintains that such expression should be done responsibly and not at the expense of our innocent riding public.”

Suarez, a writer and marketer, is known in literary circles for his thought-provoking poetry. He joined movements protesting the privatization and the "sorry state" of the MRT.

Earlier, MRT officials declined to comment on the issue. -- With reports from Anjo Bagaoisan and Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News