Police arrest Mendiola protesters celebrating Pride Month

Published June 26, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Joseph Almer Pedrajas

Police on Friday (June 26) arrested 20 individuals staging a protest in Mendiola, Manila, in celebration of Pride Month.

(Photo courtesy of Bahaghari/ MANILA BULLETIN)
(Photo courtesy of Bahaghari/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) group Bahaghari and other allied individuals from Salinlahi were turned over to Manila Police District (MPD) headquarters following their arrest.

This came after they held a Pride March along Avenida Avenue and gathered in Mendiola to call for the abolition of the anti-terrorism bill and to express their opposition to the planned jeepney phase-out.

Rey Salinas, Bahaghari’s spokesperson and one of those arrested, said they were observing social distancing and peacefully holding protest actions when they were “violently” dispersed by police. It was backed by several photos posted on social media.

However, Lt. Col. Carlo Manuel, head of the MPD public information office, said that one rallyist “instigated” the commotion after trying to spray-paint the police deployed to the area.

“Maayos silang kinakausap. Then, may isang nag-instigate na isang myembro ng nagra-rally na parang may i-spray sa kanila [pulis] at doon nagsimula ‘yung kaguluhan, ‘yung commotion. So ang purpose lang naman ng ating kapulisan, kausapin sila at paki-usapan na i-disperse ang kanilang hanay since wala naman silang permit ([The police were speaking to them properly. But one rallyist instigated trying to spray at the police, and that’s where the commotion started. The purpose of our police was to ask them to disperse their ranks because they did not have a permit),” Manuel said in an interview with reporters.

Manuel said the arrested individuals face charges for non-cooperation in a health crisis and for illegal assembly, since they did not have a permit to hold a protest.

“Dadalhin sila sa fiscal. Bahala na ‘yung fiscal…Kung sasabihin ng fiscal na palayain sila (They will be brought to the fiscal. Then it’s up to the fiscal…if the fiscal says to let them go), we will let them free ,” Manuel added when asked what would happen to the arrested individuals.

Meanwhile, in a text message, Capt. Arnold Echalar, head of MPD’s General Assignment and Investigation Section (GAIS), said they would also prepare charges of disobedience to persons in authority and direct assault against them.

Various progressive groups, including Bahaghari, Salinlahi, Gabriela, and Bayan Muna, denounced the incident.