CHARGE the police.
This was the appeal of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu community to the school administration following the dispersal of activists during a peaceful protest against the Anti-Terrorism Bill on Friday, June 5, 2020.
The alumni asked the school administration to file complaints against the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) personnel for allegedly using excessive force in arresting eight persons and violating the 1989 agreement between UP and the Department of National Defense (DND).
Release of “Cebu 8”
Around 6 p.m. Monday, June 8, the arrested persons, known as “Cebu 8,” were released by Cebu City Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 4 Judge Jenelyn Villaceran Forrosuelo. The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Cebu welcomed the judge’s decision.
The eight detained were Jaime Paglinawan of Bayan Central Visayas, Joahanna Veloso of National Union of Students of the Philippines and Sangguniang Kabataan, UP Diliman alumnus Al Ingking, Bern Cañedo of Yanat Cebu and UP Cebu student council, Dyan Gumanao of Kabataan Partylist, Nar Porlas of Anakbayan Cebu, Janry Ubal of Food Not Bombs Cebu, and bystander Clement Corominas.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said “appropriate investigation should be made.” He believed the Commission on Human Rights will also look into the incident.
The UP-DND Accord states members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Police Constabulary-Integrated National Police (now the Philippine National Police) or the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit shall not interfere with the peaceful protest actions by UP constituents within the school’s premises.
But Police Regional Office 7 Director Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro denied that his men violated the agreement, saying the protesters were holding their activity outside the UP Cebu campus.
It was only when the policemen started apprehending the protesters when the latter ran towards the campus to seek protection. The police officers, some in plain clothes and carrying automatic firearms, then gave chase. Snippets of the cat and mouse were captured on video.
Ferro said CCPO only assisted the UP Cebu security guards who were preventing the protesters from entering the campus.
The protesters, he said, violated the guidelines set by the government for the implementation of the general community quarantine, which still prohibits a gathering of more than 10 persons. Ferro defended his men in civilian clothes who participated in the arrest, saying they did not violate any law.
In a letter to the editor published in SunStar Cebu June 8 issue, Mary Rose Ampoon said she was among the 30 protesters. She said they wore masks and distanced themselves almost two meters away from each other.
Before the “Cebu 8” detainees were released, the Cebu City Prosecutor Office had filed the information to the court against them. They were charged with violations of Section 13 of the Public Assembly Act of 1985 (Batas Pambansa 880), Section 9 (e) of the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases (Republic Act 11332), and simple resistance and disobedience to an agent of a person in authority under Article 151, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal Code. These cases fall under the Rule on Summary Procedure.
The defense was given 10 days to comment on the charges. No bail was required by the judge based on the release order.
UP Cebu alumnus King Anthony Perez, Cebu 8 legal team’s spokesperson, said they have started building a case against the CCPO personnel.
“We are gathering solid evidence so that our charges will stand in the court,” said Perez.
As to the amount raised for the bail of Cebu 8, Perez said they will announce what to do with money. (KFD, JJL & AYB / JKV)