DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Former Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao and six relief volunteers were released through bail Wednesday after police in Norzagaray, Bulacan detained them while doing relief work last Saturday.
Casilao and the volunteers, who were apprehended for alleged violations of quarantine rules, each posted P40,000 bail.
The former representative in a statement thanked colleagues, friends, and families who contributed to their bail.
He maintained that their arrests were illegal and unfounded, as he describes their ordeal embodies the government’s “martial law-like” approach to a health crisis.
“Our illegal arrest and detention expose the government’s failure in addressing the pandemic, that instead of a medical solution, it is resorting to arrests and imprisonment, which basically defeat the purpose of physical distancing especially if being detained in congested prison cells,” Casilao said.
Police charged Casilao and workers for violating Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act. Casilao was charged with Usurpation of Authority while the volunteers were charged with violation of the Revised Penal Code on Inciting to Sedition.
Casilao asserted that they did nothing wrong and did not violate any of the quarantine rules.
“It was an attack on activists carrying out humanitarian activities and adhered to the bayanihan spirit in this time of an emergency situation,” said Casilao.
Their arrests resulted in a #TulongHindiKulong campaign in social media led by human rights advocates and personalities. Netizens have been vocal in the six-week-long quarantine calling out human rights violations and lack of social assistance to the poor amidst the lockdown.
Despite the arrests, Casilao said they will continue with their Tulong Anakpawis-Sagip Kanayunan campaign to deliver relief to farmers, fisherfolk and urban poor communities that are the hardest hit by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“It is both right and duty of every Filipino to aid those in need. The government has no moral authority to sabotage the relief efforts of activists. The delivery of nutri-lief packs to the impoverished communities will continue,” Casilao said.
The KIlusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemns the arrest.
“We will continue to expose this Martial Law-style ECQ gripping the country. We must not allow police brutality and abuse of authority to reign over peoples’ democratic rights,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP Chairperson.
“We will continue to assert the people’s demand for urgent medical solutions to the pandemic, socio-economic aid for the people and respect for human rights during the lockdown”, he added. (davaotoday.com)