By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Women’s rights advocates and teachers from a non-profit learning center were arrested today, the International Labor Day.
Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador said in a Facebook post that Marikina police arrested 10 relief workers who were conducting a feeding program.
“They have been conducting relief work through a community kitchen for more than a month now. But today, May 1, they were arrested for caring for the people’s welfare, which should have been the government’s job,” said Salvador in her post.
Teachers from a local child learning center Relita Malundras and Ronel Artizuela, together with Gabriela member and Pinoy Weekly correspondent Joan Bernadette Paz, and seven jeepney drivers were among those arrested while distributing food packs among residents of Barangay Industrial Valley Complex, Marikina City.
Child rights advocate Eule Bonganay said his wife Paz left at the break of dawn to prepare food for their relief drive in Marikina. He later received a text message from Paz, saying that they were being brought to the police precinct.
Paz’s five-year-old daughter asked about her mother and Bonganay said he could not find the words to explain what happened.
“Why do they have to imprison those who are helping the poor?” he said.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Ephraim Cortez told Bulatlat that providing relief aid is not among the prohibited acts with corresponding penalties, per the Bayanihan Act of 2020.
Bulatlat has earlier featured their community kitchen in Marikina, an effort of Bayanihang Marikenyo at Marikenya, in partnership with #BabaeAko Network.
Among those receiving warm meals is a community of mostly construction workers in Marikina who lost their jobs due to the lockdown in place in Metro Manila. They, too, have decried the lack of government assistance amid the pandemic.