By REIN TARINAY
MANILA — In line with the National Arts Month this February, progressive groups held a protest on wheels to call for the release of detained artists.
Ara Villena, spokesperson of Free the Artists, said that detained artists Amanda Echanis, Cheryl Catalogo and Alvin Fortaliza have done nothing wrong and merely used their art to present the story of the masses.
According to Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) Echanis, Catalogo, and Fortaliza remain in jail—with writer Echanis having to nurse her three-month-old baby in prison, and theater worker Catalogo unable to attend the funeral of her father who was slain last year, himself a farmer and an activist.
Echanis was arrested on Dec. 2, 2020 in Baggao, Cagayan, and charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Catalogo is facing similar charges, and was arrested along with over 50 other activists during simultaneous raids in Bacolod City on Oct. 31, 2019.
Fortaliza, meanwhile, was arrested on March 4, 2019 in Guindulman, Bohol and slapped with murder charges.
SAKA also reiterated its opposition to the Anti-Terror Law.
“The law is not anti-terrorism but anti-truth, anti-freedom, anti-people. All this administration wants is to protect its delusion of perfection and it will not accept any criticism from its own citizens. This law is out to silence dissent and it aims to deprive us of our right to free expression, if not of our very own lives,” Angelo Suarez, SAKA co-convener, said.
The Anti-Terrorism Law is currently being argued at the Supreme Court, with 37 petitions challenging its constitutionality.