WATCH: Police confiscate placards during Quiapo Mass

(Philstar.com) - July 27, 2020 - 3:03pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:34 p.m.) — Manila police confiscated protest materials against the anti-terrorism law from a churchgoer during a Mass held at Quiapo Church on Monday afternoon.

A video circulating on social media showed two cops taking protest materials from a woman identified as a member of organization Akbayan.

A Mass for “justice and peace” was taking place at the time. The Mass was part of the activities of the broad and multi-sectoral “SONAgkaisa” protest.

“Kinausap ko ang pulis pagkatapos ng Misa. Wala rally na naganap. Misa lang. Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang karahasan na ito, lalo na sa gitna ng sakramento ,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Twitter.

(I talked to the police after the Mass. There was no rally going on, it was just a Mass. This kind of violence is unacceptable especially in the middle of a sacrament)

“Pati ang mga dasal ng mga tao sa loob ng simabahan, papatahimikin,” she added.

(They want to silence even the prayers of people inside the church)

Religious gatherings are allowed in areas under General Community Quarantine like Metro Manila, although attendance is kept at a minimum.

Protest placards are not illegal in the Philippines, where the 1987 Constitution protects the freedom of expression.

Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, said he will ask the Manila Police District for a report on the incident. 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara told Philstar.com that police may take as evidence placards and other materials "if the contents incite people to rise up in arms against the duly constituted authorities."

But, he said, "if the contents merely express a position on public issues, such as one's stand against the [Anti-Terrrorism Act], written on placards or streamers, the same constitute a lawful exercise of one's freedom of speech or expression protected by the constitution."

Police earlier arrested members of PISTON who were on their way to “SONAgkaisa” protest action at UP Diliman for allegedly violating the rule banning traditional jeepneys on Metro Manila roads.

They were brought to Camp Karingal where charges are being prepared against them. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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