The arrest of four members of the dissident group Panday Sining (“Blacksmith Art”) was “just and lawful,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said today in a statement, as he ordered the police force to go after other vandals.
The activists were arrested by members of the Manila Police District on Saturday as they were allegedly vandalizing the columns of the Light Rail Transit on Recto Avenue. However, Panday Sining maintains its members were “abducted by police in civilian clothing” from a jeepney, and said that the arrests were arbitrary, a claim Año denied.
“The government is doing its best to make the city clean and orderly but they made it look disgusting. They have been repeatedly warned and now they will face the consequences of their actions,” he said.
The arrests came just a few weeks after the group claimed responsibility for spray-painting anti-government slogans on the walls of the newly refurbished Lagusnilad pedestrian underpass.
In his statement, Secretary Año also alleged that after vandalizing Lagusnilad, the group spray-painted the walls of Araullo High School in Ermita and the columns of the LRT.
“Instead of stopping, they continued to vandalize. They don’t listen to authority. It’s too much. That’s enough. It’s just right that they are taught a lesson,” Año said. “Don’t use Metro Manila as your drawing board or canvas. There are a lot of ways to express your feelings and that does not include painting the walls of Manila.”
He also told the Philippine National Police “to go after all vandals for their utter disregard of the law and defacement of government properties.”
Meanwhile, Panday Sining is selling some artworks on its Facebook page to raise money for its members’ bail. In a statement, they said that the attacks on purported cultural workers like their members “are attacks on the people’s interests.”
This article, Interior Department defends arrest of Panday Sining members, orders police to go after other vandals, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!