MANILA — The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) called for the immediate release of four members of cultural organization Panday Sining, insisting that street art is not a crime.
According to reports from Pinoy Weekly, eight Panday Sining members on their way home from the Bonifacio Day mobilization in Manila were accosted by police in civilian clothing while inside a public jeepney. Police reportedly surrounded the jeepney and forced them to alight. Four members of the group were arrested and brought to the Manila Police District where they are currently detained. Incoming reports mention that at least one was kicked in the chest during the arrest.
The group participated in the Bonifacio Day mobilization earlier today at Liwasang Bonifacio and Mendiola which called for an end to the attacks and political repression against activists. Panday Sining recently spearheaded the “Graffiesta” initiative which filled public walls and spaces of Manila with graffiti, stencil, and wheatpaste art calling attention to important national and socio-economic issues.
ARTISTA NG BAYAN, PALAYAIN!
Militant youth groups hold an indignation protest in front of the Manila Police District to condemn the coercive arrest of 4 Panday Sining members by police out of uniforms earlier during the Boni Day rally#AFPPNPBackOff pic.twitter.com/Y4rpAqPNxl
— Anakbayan UST (@AnakbayanUST) November 30, 2019
In a statement, CAP condemned the arrest. “It is downright absurd and offensive that the arrest happens during a day that commemorates and in fact stresses the need to continue the legacy of nationalist and revolutionary Andres Bonifacio.”
CAP noted that the “harassment also happens amidst the larger landscape of political repression, including illegal arrests and filing of trumped-up charges against progressive organizations and activists, ushered in by Executive Order 70 which aims for a nationwide crackdown against dissenters and critics of the Duterte administration.”
The group called on authorities not to criminalize cultural work that calls for social change.