Cebu City police to sue riders group, shoe store owners

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CEBU City Police will file separate charges against a group of motorcycle drivers supporting Mayor Edgardo Labella and the owners of a shoe store in Barangay Lahug after activities they conducted resulted in mass gatherings that defied strict quarantine protocol.

Police Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) deputy director for operations, said they are preparing the charges and the corresponding witnesses against the two groups.

Parilla said they are filing charges against members of the EdLab Riders, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts supporting the Cebu City mayor, for conducting a motorcade and mass gathering at the Plaza Independencia during their third anniversary on Nov. 8, 2020 without securing permission from local police.

Separate charges will be filed against the owners of JS Footwear after the grand opening of the shoe store on Nov. 18 caused a large gathering of people. The shop has since been ordered closed for failing to secure a permit from the City.

Parilla said they will sue both groups for violating Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code or unjustifiable disobedience of lawful orders of persons in authority, and for violating various quarantine protocol as mandated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

The organizer of Edlab Riders, identified as Pedro Pongasi, has approached CCPO director Police Col. Josefino Ligan to apologize for the Nov. 8 gathering. But despite the apology, the police will still file the case against the two groups.

Labella, for his part, has denied that the City ordered the mass gathering of Edlab Riders on Nov. 8.

He said that when he found out that the riders had gathered at the Plaza Independencia, he immediately ordered City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. to reprimand the group.

The group eventually dispersed after city officials intervened.

Labella said he respects the move of the local police to file charges against the group.

He added that he has no intention to provide legal assistance to the group. However, some privately-hired lawyers have expressed interest in assisting them.

Parilla warned residents that the police are monitoring the city for any mass gatherings, following an increase in the number of new Covid-19 cases earlier this month.

He also urged those who went to the shoe store opening and participated in the riders group activity to report to the nearby barangay health centers should they show symptoms of Covid-19. (AYB, PAC / JKV)