Davao City police files child abuse complaint vs Makabayan congressmen

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Two progressive congressmen from the House Makabayan bloc are facing a child abuse complaint filed against them by the Davao City police.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio and Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao revealed this to reporters on Wednesday, December 5.

According to Tinio, the Davao City police argued they had allegedly violated Republic Act 7610 and  Presidential Decree 603 when they led a rally participated in by children held at Freedom Park in Davao City on October 23.

Tinio presented a copy of the subpoena issued against him by Office of the City Prosecutor in Davao City.

The complainant is Lilibeth Liza Salvador Remolar, police senior inspector and chief of Davao City’s children’s protection desk. 

Tinio, however, condemned the child abuse charges.

What happened on October 23? Tinio said the protesters were calling for the end of martial law in Mindanao. He said they were also pushing for the end to the “harassment” against Lumad schools in the area. 

“At ayon sa Davao police, child abuse daw po 'yon kasi merong mga minors na nasa rally. So kinokendena po natin ang complaint na ito. Ito po ay isang malinaw na halimbawa na 'yong exercise of constitutional rights, in this case, paglahok at pagsalita sa rally, na hindi iligal, na ginagarantiya ng Constitution, ay nais nilang palabasin na krimen,” said Tinio.

(According to the Davao police, this is child abuse because there were minors in the rally. So we condemn this complaint. This a clear example of constitutional rights – the freedom to join and speak at a rally – that are legal but they want to treat as a crime.) 

“This is a clear case of harassment and nakita na siguro natin ‘yong padron (we can clearly see who the patron is),” he added.

Casilao likewise denounced the child abuse charges against him. He recalled the brief detention in Davao del Norte of his fellow Makabayan lawmaker, ACT Teachers Representative France Castro, and ex-Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo, over “illegal” charges of human trafficking, kidnapping, and child abuse.

“Just like what they have done against our fellow Makabayan lawmakers, Rep. Castro and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, this government is hell bent to curtail our rights and advocacy to help our people oppose its oppressive policies,” said Casilao.

“Last time I checked, speaking in peaceful demonstration is still guaranteed in our constitution. The filing of trumped up charges against the Makabayan lawmakers is part of the grand scheme of this government to silence opposition, critics and dissent,” he added.

Davao City mayor vs Makabayan: The filing of child abuse charges against Tinio and Casilao comes weeks after presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio called for the expulsion of the Makabayan lawmakers in the House. Carpio was instrumental in the ouster of Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker. 

On October 23 – the same day Tinio and Casilao joined the rally in Davao City – Carpio urged voters not to support the Makabayan bloc in the May 2019 elections. 

Carpio issued the call following a roadblock of the Kilusang Mayo Uno in Barangay Lasang in Bunawan district, which she said "was an example of how these groups intend to govern should they be given the power to lead our government and the country.”

Read a full copy of the subpoena issued against Tinio below:

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– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.