Police arrested 16 students in Iligan City during an Independence Day rally against the anti-terror bill on Friday morning, June 12, despite following physical distancing measures.
Northern Mindanao police chief Brigadier General Rolando Anduyan told Rappler in a phone interview that the students were apprehended for violating quarantine rules at the Freedom Park of Iligan City.
In a phone interview with Rappler, Gil Nambatac, a participant of the protest who arrived late and avoided being arrested, said the police apprehended the students just as the program started.
Nambatac said police arrested them without provocation.
Kabataan Partylist Northern Mindanao said in a post that the protesters gathered at the IMCC rotunda in Barangay Pala-o in Iligan were arrested at around 10 am.
A video of the rally posted by the Himugso Kolektibo Facebook page showed the student protesters wearing black shirts, carrying placards, and amply distanced from each other.
They were shouting against the enactment of the anti-terror bill, a controversial proposed law seen by experts as an infringement on Filipinos' rights. The controversial bill has been approved by Congress and is waiting for the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The cops brought the protesters to the Iligan CIty Police Station 5. They were released on Friday evening, receiving a "citation" from police.
According to Anduyan, the students are possibly facing complaints of violating the Bayanihan Act—a law used broadly by authorities to arrest quarantine violators.
Some of those arrested were:
For this year’s commemoration of the Philippines' 122nd Independence Day, various groups held "mañanita" protests nationwide as the country continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
The mañanita protests take off from the widely criticized birthday celebration of National Capital Region Police Office chief Major General Debold Sinas, which was held during lockdown. Despite breaching quarantine protocols, President Rodrigo Duterte himself said Sinas – who had insisted that it was just a "mañanita" despite the mass gathering – did nothing wrong. (READ: After apology, Sinas says 'nothing wrong' with birthday party)
However, unlike the arrests in Iligan City, the protests in Metro Manila were held without any untoward incidents. – Rappler.com