MANILA, Philippines – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to go after all the vandals in the country for their “utter disregard of the law and defacement of government properties.”
Año issued the order following the arrest of four members of a left-leaning art group, Panday Sining, for vandalizing places in the city of Manila.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief called the arrest of the four activists “just and lawful.”
“Nagsusumikap ang gobyerno na magkaroon ng kaayusan at kalinisan pero binababoy nila. They have been repeatedly warned and now they will face the consequences of their actions,” he said in a statement.
In November, Manila City mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso warned the group that he would make them wipe their spray-painted messages with their tongue if he happens to catch them committing vandalism.
The group earned Mayor Isko’s ire after they spray-painted messages on the newly-painted walls of Lagusnilad underpass and UN Avenue.
But instead of heeding the government’s warning, Año pointed out that the group defied authorities and went on with their protest in different places in Manila.
The DILG chief said members of the group spray-painted messages on a telecom box near the Manila City hall, the walls of Araullo High School in Manila, and a concrete post of LRT-2 in Recto Avenue, among others.
“Imbes na tumigil, tuloy pa rin sila sa pagsasalaula nila sa kapaligiran. Hindi na sila nakikinig sa awtoridad. Sobra na. Tama na. Tama lang na maturuan sila ng leksyon para magtanda,” he said.
On Nov. 30, Saturday, four members of Panday Sining, namely, Joven Laura, Jeanne Vaughn Quijano, Mikhail Collado, and another minor, were arrested by the police after they were caught painting on the walls of LRT-2 during protest rallies marking Bonifacio Day.
Vandalism is a prohibited act in the City of Manila under Ordinance No. 7971 which imposes penalties on any person who defaces public and private property.
Panday Sining has called for the release of their members, and accused the police of manhandling their activists.
Año stressed that that while the government “respects their groups’ freedom of expression, such freedom is bounded by rules and regulations in order to ensure law and order.”
“Huwag ninyo namang gawing malaking drawing board o canvas ang Metro Manila. Maraming paraan para ipahayag ang inyong saloobin at hindi kasama doon ang walang habas ninyong pagpipinta sa mga pader ng Maynila,” he said.
The DILG chief also lamented that the arrested Panday Sining members are young people who are supposed to be focusing their time studying and making their parents proud.
“Huwag kayong magpaloko sa mga organisasyong makakaliwa at huwag ninyong sirain ang kinabukasan ninyo sa mga walang kuwentang gawain. Magsipagtapos kayo sa pag-aaral ninyo at tumulong kayo sa pamilya at bansa,”he said.
DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also said that the public is likewise “outraged” by the group’s recent actions as evidenced by negative comments on social media and an online petition initiated by a non-governmental group.
“Even the people are fed up with your antics. Mag-isip-isip na kayo at magbago na habang bata pa kayo. Disiplina muna bago po tayo magreklamo at magprotesta. Ang pagbabago’y nagsisimula sa sarili,”he said.