By Jhon Aldrin Casinas
Ten community kitchen volunteers who were arrested by police while reportedly conducting relief operations in Marikina City on Labor Day were released from custody on Saturday.
Mayor Marcelino Teodoro made the announcement, saying the City Prosecutors’ Office ordered the local police to release the volunteers for “further investigation.”
According to the local government, the release was confirmed by Marikina Police chief Col. Restituto Arcangel.
Photos shared by the local government showed the freed volunteers at the lobby of the City Hall having a conversation with the mayor.
The group of 10 community kitchen volunteers—composed of jeepney drivers, preschool teachers, and a volunteer from Gabriela—were arrested by police while reportedly serving free meals in Barangay IVC, Marikina on Labor Day.
Police said they arrested the group for allegedly staging a protest amid the quarantine period.
After receiving reports regarding the arrest, Teodoro ordered the local police to release the volunteers, saying that they did not violate any law.
“Hindi dapat inaresto dahil wala namang ginagawang masama yung mga kababayan natin (They should not be arrested because they are doing nothing wrong),” Teodoro said in a statement.
In a statement, Bayanihang Marikenyo and Marikenya condemned the arrest of Bayanihang Kusina volunteers, saying they have been conducting community kitchens since March 14.
“Kailan pa naging kasalanan ang tumulong sa kapwa? Bakit trinatrato ninyong kriminal ang aming mga kabayan na ang tanging gusto ay makakain ng wasto ang kanilang mga anak? (When has it been a sin to help others? Why do you treat our fellowmen as criminals who only want their children to eat right?),” the group said.
Teodoro noted that the volunteers were only conducting relief operations, and that social distancing was strictly observed.
“’Yung mga taong naroroon ay nag-paalam naman sa atin para magbigay ng relief operation at bahagi ito ng relief at humanitarian aid na ibinibigay natin dun sa mga komunidad (The people who are there have asked permission for their relief operation and it’s part of the relief and humanitarian aid we give to the communities),” he said.