CEBU CITY (UPDATE) - Police on Friday arrested at least 7 people who joined a rally opposing the Anti-Terror Bill in front of the University of the Philippines here, citing alleged violations of general community quarantine (GCQ) guidelines.
Those held were Jaime Paglinawan of Baong Alyansang Makabayan - Central Visayas, Joahanna Veloso of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, Al Ingking, a former student of UP Cebu, Bern Cañedo of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny Cebu, Dyan Gumanao of Kabataan Partylist, and Nar Porlas and Janry Ubal from Food Not Bombs Cebu.
Police Col. Josefino Ligan of the Cebu City Police Office went to the area to give protesters 10 minutes to wrap up their activity.
But despite multiple warnings that their time was up, the group allegedly continued with their program. Police officers, both in uniform and plainclothes, then chased and arrested the protesters, some of whom even went inside the campus.
“They violated GCQ protocol, mass gathering and not bringing of quarantine passes,” Ligan said.
But Veloso said they followed all protocols during the protest.
“We have our passes, if that is the issue. They should have checked that before we started our protest,” she said.
Charges have yet to be filed against the protesters who are now detained at the Cebu City Police Office.
At least 2 lawmakers sought the protesters release, saying expressing dissent is not a crime.
"Every citizen of the Republic has the duty to criticize those who are running the government. Tungkulin ito, hindi lang karapatan. Ang mga mamamayan ang pinakamabisang check sa kapalpakan, pangungurakot, pang-aabuso, at panggigipit ng mga taong-gobyerno," said opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
(This is their duty, not just a right. People are the best way to check incompetence, corruption, abuse and repression by people in government.)
He said this was what the protesters were doing when they were violently dispersed.
"Hindi pa man batas ang nasabing panukala, ganito na ang asal ng ilang mga pulis," said Pangilinan.
(The bill isn't even a law yet and this is how police are acting.)
He said the arresting officers may be liable under an agreement between UP and the defense department barring police from entry into UP campuses.
Pangilinan called for the release of the protesters and for the police officers to be charged.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro also condemned the arrest.
"Hindi pa nga naisasabatas ang Anti-Terror bill na ito, hinuhuli na ng mga kapulisan ang mga aktibista na nananawagan para sa pagbabasura nito," Castro said.
(The Anti-Terror bill is not even a law yet and police officers are already arresting activists calling for it to be junked.)
"Tinuturing na mga kriminal ang mga nananawagan para sa proteksyon ng mga karapatang pantao ng mamamayang Pilipino. Paano pa kung naisabatas pa ang Anti-Terror Bill na ito?"
(They consider criminals those calling for the protection of the human rights of the Filipino people. How much more when the Anti-Terror Bill becomes law?)
The House of Representatives passed the bill on third and final reading on Wednesday. The Senate passed a similar version of the measure earlier this year.
Critics called out the proposed legislation, which they said violates basic rights due to the broad definition of "terrorism."
If it becomes law, the government will be authorized to wiretap suspects, arrest them without warrants and hold them without charges for at least 14 days, among other provisions.