By IAN IRVING BAZARTE
MANILA – Eight youths were arrested inside the House of Representatives’ plenary hall today, July 22, when they staged a quick protest during the legislative branch’s special joint session to vote on the proposed extension of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao.
Arrested were Chad Booc, Kenneth Cadiang, Yasser Gutierrez, Michael Villanueva, Almira Abril, Renz Pasigpasigan, League of Filipino Students (LFS) Spokesperson JP Rosos, and Vince Simon.
At around 11 AM, the protesters who were sitting in the upper tier, unfurled a banner which said, “No to martial law,” and shouted “Never again! Never again! Never again to martial law! Martial law sa Mindanao, ibasura!” This disrupted Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano, who was answering a question by Act Teachers’ Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio.
Booc, Cadiang, and Gutierrez are volunteer teachers from the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), an alternative school for Lumads in Caraga region. They are among those who evacuated from Diatagon village, Lianga town early this month due to military operations.
Abril and Pasigpasigan are students from the University of the Philippines (UP), while Simon is an Anakbayan member and Villanueva is from the Kabataan Partylist.
Mikhail Geriane, a Kabataan Partylist member who witnessed the incident, said a few of the protesters were roughly handled by security personnel. He added that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez himself recommended that cases of disturbance of legislative proceedings be filed against the eight protesters, with a bail of around P200 to P1,000.
A paralegal team from the Makabayan bloc consisting of Jose Mari Callueng and Atty. Kathy Pangumbayan tried to negotiate with security personnel for the release of the eight, but were unsuccessful.
The eight protesters were brought to Camp Caringal, Quezon City, where they remain detained as of writing.
Youth groups are set to stage a protest in Camp Caringal to call for the release of the eight arrested, dubbed #Kabataan8.