On the first day of face-to-face classes (August 22), what did Batasan Police Station 6 officers get from child rights advocates? Hygiene kits and food packs meant for students of President Corazon Aquino Elementary School (PCAES), as well as placards calling for a safe return to physical classes: all of which were said to be violently taken from child rights advocates by the police in broad daylight.
A day later, lawmakers of the progressive Makabayan bloc, through House Resolution No. 301, called for an investigation into the Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns’ case. Here, proponents and Representatives Arlene Brosas, Raoul Manuel, and France Castro wrote that videos showed how officers assaulted and harassed members in front of students.
Simply put, “instead of assisting the relief distribution, the police opted to intimidate, assault, and [try] to illegally arrest rights advocates [specifically members Tiben Wahing and Kim Samiana] who only intended to provide aid,” and that the officers need to be held accountable.
Kabataan Party-list, in their own statement, described the incident as an “act of police brutality that did not only deprive young students of safety equipment and other necessities on their first day but also inflicted trauma to children who witnessed such violence.”
In a later ABS-CBN News Channel interview, Quezon City Police Department’s (QCPD) Police Brigadier General (PBGEN) Nicolas Torre III insinuated that the organizers were instigating a rally and incorrectly pointed the finger at Kabataan Party-list (who had no part in Salinlahi’s program). Manuel, who represents the latter, demanded in Filipino that the police must stop fabricating stories.
Meanwhile, Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Party-list slammed the police for “traumatizing” the students. She also wondered if Filipinos’ taxes are used to harass those who want to help others.
"Sa unang araw ng balik-eskwela, tila pinakita ng kapulisan na balik-dating gawi din sila – manghaharass ng mga progresibong grupo at indibidwal na nag-aabot lamang ng tulong sa mga bata at sa kanilang mga magulang na sa kabila ng kakapusan ay sinikap na maipasok ang mga anak sa paaralan," Brosas said.
(“In the first day of classes, the police blatantly showed that they were back in business in harassing progressive groups and individuals who only sought to help children and their parents who, despite the challenges, fought to have their children continue their studies.”)
Although face-to-face classes have resumed, not all schools are as ready as Vice President Sara Duterte hoped. While she was visiting Dinalupihan Elementary School, students and faculty members in Macabebe, Pampanga were shown still holding classes in rooms flooded by the recent Typhoon Florita.
Then, a lack of classroom seats took center stage in Jose Abad Santos High School, Binondo, Manila. Although the likes of the Manila Public Information Office (MPIO) would claim it as false, Inquirer, their beat reporter Jane Bautista, and the faculty of the said high school affirms that it is anything but a lie.
UPDATE: Additional details in the first paragraph.
Reuben Pio Martinez is a news writer who covers stories on various communities and scientific matters. He regularly tunes in to local happenings. The views expressed are his own.
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