By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday urged the government’s detractors to just let justice take its course as charges against six Anakpawis members were filed for supposedly violating the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) protocols.
As the Philippine National Police (PNP) insisted that the Anakpawis members failed to practice social distancing and attempted to organize a mass gathering in Norzagaray, Bulacan, the group’s supporters said otherwise, stressing that what was conducted was a legitimate relief operation.
“The rule of law does not stop during a public health emergency. The DILG respects the rights of the detained Anakpawis members and we assure them that they will have their day in court. Since nahuli na sila, sa hukom na lang sila magpaliwanag,’’ DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said.
(Since they were caught, they just have to explain before the judge).
As far as the PNP is concerned, Malaya said “there is probable cause against Anakpawis since they were caught in the act by the Norzagaray Police in a checkpoint’’.
“Clearly, they violated quarantine rules because they are Unauthorized Persons Outside of Residence (UPOR), they misrepresented a Food Pass to gain passage through checkpoints, there was no coordination with the LGU of Norzagaray, Bulacan for this alleged relief operation, and they intimidated our police officers by using a congressman who in fact is no longer an incumbent member of Congress, among others,” he added.
Malaya noted that those detained are entitled to adequate legal representation of their own choice expressing no doubt that a battery of lawyers will represent them.
“I’m sure a battalion of lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and Public Interest Law Center (PILC) has been mobilized by their central committee for this purpose,” Malaya said.
Malaya emphasized anew that a food pass even if issued by the Department of Agriculture (DA) is not valid for the conduct of relief operations.
“They illegally used a food pass for another purpose when a food pass is for the transport of farm produce from farm to market. In fact, the use of the DILG logo for this purpose is again illegal and will not be tolerated by this department,” Malaya insisted.
Malaya added that the DILG and PNP are currently busy now fighting “COVID (novel coronavirus disease-2019) and seeking an end to the ECQ that it saps their time, energy and effort dealing with Anakpawis and similar “pasaway (stubborn)” organizations’’.
He said that all the six activists have been charged for violation of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and for violation of Section 9, Art. 1132 (Non-cooperation of persons), Art. 151 (resistance and disobedience to a person in authority) of the Revised Penal Code in relation to IATF directive dated April 2, 2020 and DOH Dept Order 2020-0090 and EO 922, Sec 4 (all citizens are urged to act within the bounds of law).
Malaya said former Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao will also be charged for usurpation of authority under Art 177 of the Revised Penal Code.