Kadamay stated that the four were forced to sign a form “voluntarily waiving their rights under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code,” as well as having a “gag order” placed on them, preventing them from talking to anyone, including their families.
By JUSTIN UMALI
SANTA ROSA, Laguna – Bulacan police arrested four women activists July 27 in barangay Cacarong Matanda, Pandi, Bulacan after staging an online protest coinciding with President Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address.
According to urban rights group Kadamay, Janet Villamar, April Tricia Musa, Marilou Amaro, and Edmylyn Gruta staged an online protest 11 a.m. to call for mass testing, aid, and the release of fellow Kadamay Pandi member Rose Fortaleza, who was arrested July 26 after police raided a Kadamay office and confiscated copies of alternative publication Pinoy Weekly.
Hours later, police arrived at their homes and began arresting the four individuals. When asked why, they were unable to cite any violation. According to Mimi Doringo, Kadamay spokesperson, the four were already resting or tending to other duties when the police arrived.
This is contrary to the official police report which claimed that officers on patrol saw members of Kadamay conducting a rally. The officers “asked for a permit”, which they protesters were unable to provide, and were asked to go home. When they could not comply, the protesters “persisted and pushed the officers, resulting in their arrest.”
As of July 28, or 24 hours after the arrest, no charges were filed against them. Kadamay also stated that the four were forced to sign a form “voluntarily waiving their rights under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code,” as well as having a “gag order” placed on them, preventing them from talking to anyone, including their families.
Article 125 sets restrictions on how long a person can be detained without charges filed, depending on the severity of the case. Article 125 also guarantees the right of the accused to legal counsel at any time.
On July 28, the four activists in Pandi were charged with violations of Republic Act 11332 and Batas Pambansa Blg. 880, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifying Disease Law and the Public Assembly Act of 1985. The paralegal team only learned of this 24 hours after their arrest.
Section 9 of RA 11332 requires any person or entity to report ‘notifiable disease’ to authorities. The Department of Justice has used this provision to justify warrantless arrests of people “violating quarantine protocol.”
BP 880, meanwhile, argues that permits are needed to hold rallies or other mass gatherings.
However, lawyers’ group National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), stressed that no provisions exist that prohibit rallies during the pandemic. The group stressed that the Constitution states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
Inquest proceedings took place via online on July 28 in the afternoon. Under Article 125, only “crimes or offenses punishable by afflictive or capital penalties, or their equivalent” are given 36 hours for law enforcement to deliver a person to proper judicial authorities before it can be considered a violation of rights.