MANILA (UPDATE) - Police arrested on Sunday a former congressman of a left-leaning party-list group and several of his companions who were on their way to deliver relief goods in Norzagaray town, Bulacan.
Former Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao and 8 others violated quarantine protocols since they were unable to present any travel pass in a checkpoint at the boundary of Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte City around 10 a.m., town police chief Lt. Col. Jaime Quiocho said.
Quiocho added that there were documents inside the relief goods that expressed opposition to the government.
Casilao and his companies will be charged with disobedience to a person in authority in relation to the enhanced community quarantine.
The relief goods were distributed to Norzagaray's Barangay Bigte.
In a text message to ABS-CBN News, Casilao, who remains under detention, decried their arrest, calling it "harassment."
Casilao said his group was allowed to leave the police station around noon to turn over the relief goods to the barangay.
The relief volunteers were then called back to the police station, where they remain in detention, he said.
Casilao said his group had a food pass accredited by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, which allows them to buy vegetables directly from farmers and distribute these as relief goods.
In a statement, Bayan Muna party-list representatives Carlos Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat condemned the arrest and demanded the release of Casilao's group.
"We strongly condemn this harassment of groups and individuals who are only giving relief goods to our countrymen affected by the lockdown," Zarate said.
"Isang kalapastanganan ito. Ang relief operation ay mayroong kumpletong permiso para sa paghahatid ng tulong pero inaresto nang walang kongretong basehan," Cullamat added.
Luzon was placed under lockdown until April 30 to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.