Lawyers of 'Cebu 8' to sue cops who arrested protesters

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Lawyers of 'Cebu 8' to sue cops who arrested protesters
A protester is arrested by police officers in civilian clothes during a rally against the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill at the University of the Philippines Cebu on June 5, 2020.
The Freeman / Aldo Nelbert Banaynal

MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Cebu said it will countersue police involved in arresting the eight people during an anti-terrorism bill rally last week.

NUPL Cebu and its collaborating lawyers who took on the case of the “Cebu 8” they are preparing the counter-affidavits that will be used in the complaint. Details of the case will be released later, NUPL said in statement posted by The Freeman.

The lawyers also said they welcome the Commission on Human Rights probe into the incident. “We look forward to coordinating with the CHR in filing the countercharges,” they said.

Police arrested seven activists and one bystander, who was documenting the mass action, during the Black Friday protest. Videos from the protest showed them running into UP Cebu premises to get away from the law enforcers.

They were charged with violations of Section 13 of the Public Assembly Act of 1985 (B.P. 880); Section 9 (e) of the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases (R.A. No. 11332), and simple resistance and disobedience to an agent of a person in authority under Article 151 paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code.

Police General Archie Gamboa, the country’s top cop, defended the arrest and said they were apprehended because “it seemed like they really try the tolerance of police to some extent.”

“They are going too far already, which is tantamount to disobedience that’s why we caused the arrest,” he added in press briefing Tuesday.

Under the 1989 agreement between the UP and the Department of National Defense also known as the Soto-Enrile accord, police and military presence in any of the state university’s campuses is prohibited unless authorized by the UP administration.

Cebu City Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 4 Judge Jenelyn Villaceran ordered the release of the “Cebu 8” on Monday, three days after they were detained.

The Freeman said that the court also directed the defense to file their comment on the complaint within 10 days.

Investigation into reported harassment

The lawyers also said they are investigating reports of harassment, including to the family of one of the arrested.

“Initial reports show that two unidentified men visited [UP Diliman alumnus Al] Ingking’s residence at around 1 p.m. last Monday, June 8, hours before the eventual release of Cebu 8 on the same day,” NUPL said.

“Not only that the unidentified men asked the members of the household the whereabouts and affiliations of Ingking, these men also expressed threats to his safety- an alarming threat amounting to a commission of a crime,” it added.

The lawyers said they will continue to monitor whether others who were arrested also report harassment after they were freed.

“We call to stop all forms of threat, harassment, and intimidation against Cebu 8 and their supporters, who are simply exercising their freedom to express their dissent against draconian and anti-democratic measures that curtail our rights and freedoms such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill,” they added. — with reports from Franco Luna, The Freeman

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