‘Waste of funds,’ SONA protesters on charges filed by police

Bayan Southern Tagalog asserted that the QCPD is “wasting funds” through its actions.


SANTA CRUZ, Laguna – The Quezon City Police Department has filed complaints against 14 mass leaders who participated in the protest actions during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s State of the Nation Address.

The complaint, filed by Police Corporal Jordan A. Barbado last August 21, alleges that “no permit to conduct rally … was issued” to some of the participants in the SONA protests. The QCPD cited Section 13(a) of Batasang Pambansa Bilang 880, which prohibits the “holding of any public assembly … without first having secured that written permit.”

The 14 mass leaders are:
1. Felix Pascua Jr., Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya spokesperson
2. Pablo Rosales, PANGISDA-Pilipinas National Chairperson
3. Larry Mallorca, (Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Philfoods) President
4. Luchell Felix, UMENTO Southern Tagalog spokesperson
5. Jaysie Balugna, Sugarfolks for Genuine Agrarian Reform coordinator
6. Miguel Portea, Southern Tagalog Regional Transport Organization – PISTON coordinator
7. Mario Fernandez, Organized Labor Associations in Line Industries and Agriculture – Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson
8. Kenneth Rementilla, Anakbayan Southern Tagalog spokesperson
9. Charm Maranan, Defend Southern Tagalog spokesperson
10. Jasmin Rubia, Mothers and Children for the Protection of Human Rights Secretary-General
11. Orly Marcellana, Tanggol Magsasaka Timog Katagalugan spokesperson
12. John Peter Angelo Garcia, Youth Advocates for Peace with Justice Chairperson
13. Jemme Mia Antonio, Liga ng Manggagawa Southern Tagalog spokesperson
14. Kyle Angelo Salgado, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Tagalog spokesperson

Bayan ST called the complaint “yet another case of harassment from state forces to silence dissent.” In a statement, Salgado noted that the organizations in question are covered by the permit issued to Bayan on July 20, 2023 through Secretary General Raymond Palatino.

Bayan ST asserted that the QCPD is “wasting funds” through its actions. Salgado pointed out that the QCPD “had a videoke session during the SONA protest, insulting the rights of citizens to peacefully protest while wasting people’s funds.” More recently, the QCPD also “gave platform to a gun-toting ex-cop through a press conference.”

“These incidents … tell us that former Director [Nicolas Torre III] should be held accountable and not simple be let off by resignation,” Salgado said.

The University of the Philippines Los Baños Department of Humanities also condemned the charges, particularly against UPLB students Maranan, Salgado, Rementilla, and Garcia. The Department pointed out that Garcia and Rementilla are “victims of the military’s continued harassment.”

“We would like to emphasize as an academic institution that the Constitution protects the right of the people to engage in protest,” the department said in its issued statement. “We stand with our students and with all victims of this latest attack by the state, in their call to junk the trumped-up charges filed against them.”

Systemic crackdown

Of the 14 mass leaders, a significant number of them have been subjected to red-tagging and other forms of harassment.

Two leaders are facing Anti-Terror Law-related raps. Rubia and Rementilla are both charged with allegedly “providing material support” to the New People’s Army, violating Section 12 of the ATL, in particular citing an incident where they were part of a fact-finding mission to investigate the murder of nine-year old Kyllene Casao in Batangas province by elements of the Philippine Army’s 59th Infantry Battalion.

Garcia, also a staunch human rights defender, is also being implicated in an Anti-Terror Law case against paralegal and Tanggol Batangan Spokesperson Hailey Pecayo, identifying him with an alleged “Tango” in a witness affidavit. No ATL-related charges have been filed against Garcia, however.

Fernandez and Mallorca are union presidents in Technol Eight Philippines and Philfoods Inc., respectively. Over the past year, both of them have been victims of harassment and intimidation from state agents, stemming from their efforts in organizing their union.
According to Bayan ST, the filed complaints are part of a “systemic crackdown” and “sets the premise for what the National Security Policy will look like in the years to come.” The group additionally pointed out that the filed charges are in line with the Marcos Jr. administration’s strategy of using state funds “in a desperate attempt to drown out critical voices.”

The UPLB Department of Humanities also noted that the filed charges are “part of the government’s wider campaign of suppression against its critics through the use of the law.” According to the department, the attacks occurred “while Filipinos are facing an upsurge of socio-economic crisis brought about by the Marcos administration.”

Salgado pointed out that the “worsening impunity in the country … coupled with soaring prices of food and basic commodities … only gives the people more reason to be enraged and protest.”

Bayan ST has stated that it is committed to have the charges dropped. “We will continue to fight whether in court of in the streets,” the group’s statement said. (RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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