Police confiscated thousands of copies of a weekly magazine which they described as “subversive documents ” in a raid in Pandi, Bulacan on Sunday.
In a statement posted in its Facebook page, the PinoyMedia Center Inc. which publishes the Pinoy Weekly, accused the police force of Pandi town of illegal seizure of thousands of print magazine copies of its publication at around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday from the local office of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in Villa Lois public housing in Pandi.
The group also claimed that the chief of police of Pandi Municipal Police Station told those present in the office that the publication “teaches the people to fight the government” and is therefore illegal.
Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that the confiscation of the printed magazines is not a prelude to a government’s crackdown on publications critical of the present administration, stressing that the Anti-Terror Law cannot be implemented yet due to the lack of Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
He said that based on the information relayed by Central Luzon regional police director Brig. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, the operation stemmed from the arrest of two members of Kadamay early morning on Sunday for alleged violation of quarantine rules.
Sermonia said that it was actually the president of Kadamay, Lea Maralit, who sought police assistance for the surrender of the magazines. Maralit was reportedly accompanied by six other Kadamay members.
“They requested Pandi police to proceed to the Model House, Villa Louis, Brgy Siling Bata, Pandi Bulacan to accept the voluminous subversive documents being surrendered voluntarily by the group,” the police statement read.
Sermonia claimed that it was Maralit who expressed fear that the subversive documents might be used during the State of the Nation Address of President Duterte.
He added that Maralit had informed him that the Kadamay group in Pandi has already “pledged support to the government’s programs of ending the decades-long insurgency and roadmap of lasting peace in the country.”
However, PinoyMedia Center Inc. said: “The Pandi police chief and his men are grossly ignorant of the law. The magazine copies are the property of the residents of the Pandi housing projects and members of Kadamay-Pandi. Seizing these copies without warrant or seizure order may constitute robbery. Secondly, either the police chief is ignorant of the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of the press and freedom of expression, or he chooses to trample upon it. Either way, he and his men are committing a crime.”
Gamboa urged those who felt aggrieved by the incident to file the necessary charges against those involved before the Internal Affairs Service of the PNP at Camp Crame.
He also advised Sermonia not to use the term “subversive documents” since the law pertaining to subversion was already repealed a long time ago.