Ecumenical Institute of Labor Education and Research (EILER) strongly condemns the illegal arrests conducted by state forces this week with which six jeepney drivers from Caloocan and seven labor rights defenders from Cebu are currently detained.
It has been several days since Northern Police District officers illegally arrested the drivers during their Busina Para Sa Balik-Pasada program due to alleged violation of social-distancing local ordinance. It was seen in photos that they did not violate such protocol, same with the seven rights defenders from various organizations in Cebu yesterday who were violently dispersed.
“The surge of protests is valid and inevitable for communities that are suffering due to quarantine restrictions. The poor drivers in Manila and those arrested in Cebu are simply airing out their concerns. Further, the phaseout of jeepneys is looming, and is being pushed amid health crisis,” Executive Director Rochelle Porras said.
The railroaded HB 6875 or proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 still needs the president’s sign but is now essentially in effect. The bill’s flawed and unjust definition of the terrorism and the council that will assess such acts might further incite violence.
“The bill being unlawful and can easily tag innocent civilians as terrorists is the act of terrorism itself,” Porras added.
EILER calls for junk of the terror bill for it also violates basic human rights. Workers’ freedom of association and right to strike can be interpreted as violations of the bill.
“Terror ends when the government stops red tagging civilians and people’s organizations. Terror ends when people’s rights are guaranteed and protected. Terror ends when there is just and lasting peace,” Porras ended.
UPDATE (June 10, 2020):
On June 9, all Piston6 ordered released after posting bail. The seven activists and a bystander arrested on 5 June for mass gathering at the University of Philippines (UP) Cebu Campus were released from police custody on June 8.