THE National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) Cebu Chapter and its collaborating lawyers have agreed to press counter-charges against the police officers who arrested eight persons during a protest against the anti-terrorism bill in Cebu City on Friday, June 5, 2020.
The NUPL has yet to announce the specific complaints that will be filed against the police officers.
In a related development, two men who claimed to be state agents reportedly issued threats to the relatives of activist Al Ingking—one of the arrested persons known as “Cebu 8.” The protest was held outside the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu in Barangay Lahug.
The family was able to take a video of the visitors.
One of the men reportedly issued threats to Ingking’s relatives.
“Badlonga na ninyo kay sa sunod ninyo mahibaw-an naa na na siya sa kabaong (Tell him to stop what he is doing because, the next thing you’ll know, he’ll be inside a coffin),” he said.
Aside from Ingking, three other members of “Cebu 8” also reportedly received similar visits from unidentified men posing as agents of the state.
King Anthony Perez, “Cebu 8” legal team spokesperson, said they will look into these incidents.
Ingking said the two men arrived in a silver sports utility vehicle around 1:50 p.m. last Monday, June 8, hours before he and other members of the controversial “Cebu 8” were released from police custody after spending the weekend in detention.
A caretaker of Ingking’s uncle and his cousin’s partner were the ones who talked to the two men who were looking for him and his family.
The men asked questions about Ingking. The caretaker of Ingking’s uncle and his cousin’s partner answered them. One of the “state agents” became upset when the caretaker said Ingking was a good person and not an activist.
Aside from Ingking, the families of “Cebu 8” members Nar Porlas of Anakbayan Cebu, Bern Cañedo of YANAT Cebu and Joahanna Veloso of National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) reportedly received similar visits from unidentified men claiming to be agents of the state.
Can’t be silenced
Ingking’s mother had the incident recorded in the blotter in a nearby police station, and the activist said he has no plans to dwell in silence.
“I won’t let this blatant threat on my life silence me from speaking up for my beliefs. Though I have no plans to ‘go to the mountains’ as they said, the right to free speech should allow me to freely express my views and opinions without being threatened by the very people mandated to uphold that right,” Ingking said.
Also arrested during last Friday’s protest were Jaime Paglinawan of Bayan Central Visayas, Dyan Gumanao of Kabataan Partylist, Janry Ubal of Food Not Bombs Cebu and bystander Clement Corominas.
Perez welcomed the move of the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the dispersal of the protesters.
Decrying anti-terror bill
Meanwhile, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation of Cebu City slammed the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill.
During a special session held on Tuesday, June 9, the SK Federation, headed by its president Jessica Resch, passed the resolution sponsored by SK Federation liaison officer of Cebu City North District Christine Claire Bontuyan.
In the resolution, Bontuyan identified the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Bill which are “vague and vulnerable to various interpretations and subsequently, susceptible to abuse.”
One of the provisions that caught the SK Federation’s attention was Section 4, which defines terrorism.
Terrorism, it says, is “to intimidate the general public or a segment thereof, create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear, to provide or influence by intimidation the government or any international organization, or seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, economic or social structures of the country, or create a public emergency or seriously undermine public safety.”
The SK Federation said Section 4 is “ambiguous and so broad that even legitimate forms of dissent which are within the purview of the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights may be construed as an act of terrorism.”
The SKF also disagrees with provisions of the bill that allow the detention of an individual for 14 days, extendible for another 10 days, without warrants. (JKV & JJL)