Youth activists apprehended for hanging banners on Marcos inauguration day

Youth activists apprehended for hanging banners on Marcos inauguration day
Photo shows a contingent of some 200 cops deployed at the Plaza Miranda in Manila where activist groups converged to protest the inauguration of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Philstar.com / Franco Luna

MANILA, Philippines — On the morning of the inauguration of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., three youth leaders were arrested by personnel of the Philippine National Police after hanging a banner on a footbridge near the Commission on Human Rights grounds in Quezon City.

Among those arrested were Akbayan Youth chairperson RJ Naguit and Benjamin Alvero and Jane Labongray of Sentro Youth, who were eventually released later in the day, according to Akbayan.

It is unclear what the charges would have been as the Liwasang Diokno in the CHR grounds is considered a freedom park where no permit is needed to protest. In the days leading up to the inauguration, the PNP repeatedly vowed to exercise maximum tolerance when dealing with activists. 

In a statement, the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition called the arrest a violation of the freedom of expression of the youth leaders.

"Police charged at the contingent even after the end of the short action. The banner was forcefully torn from the participants and the three youth leaders were violently arrested and dragged towards police vehicles," it said in a statement posted to Facebook. 

"Throughout the incident, the officers refused to explain why the arrest was being made and were very rough with the detained. One female participant was grabbed violently on the arm and nape despite complying with the officers."

Section 4.4a of the PNP's Revised Operational Procedures takes after the Marcos-era BP 880 and acknowledges that "public assemblies held in freedom parks or on private property do not need a permit for the activity."

"The PNP shall not interfere with the holding of a public assembly... before conducting any dispersal operation, the PNP shall notify the concerned organizers and leaders of the public assembly," the PNP's guidelines also read. 

Philstar.com sought the Quezon City Police District for comment through its public information office but received no response after multiple attempts. 

"Why arrest them just for hanging a banner on the footbridge? Throwback to Marcosian Martial Law indeed," Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes said in a tweet later Thursday. 

"After a proper dialogue with the police, [Naguit, Alvero and Labongray] have left the precinct. No case has been filed against them," Akbayan said later Thursday. -- Franco Luna


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