The twenty protesters arrested during the Manila Pride event last Friday, dubbed as “Pride 20″ on social media, said that they would file countercharges against the Manila police over their alleged illegal arrest and detention.
Three minors who were among those apprehended have already been released last Friday after negotiations with the police.
The remaining members of Pride 20, meanwhile, were detained for four days before the Manila Prosecutors office ordered their release on Tuesday past 7:30 pm, pending further investigation.
On June 26, 18 members of progressive groups Bahaghari and Gabriela, along with their two drivers, were apprehended and detained at the Manila Police District headquarters over alleged quarantine violations and illegal assembly.
They gathered in Mendiola to celebrate their legal rights and express their opposition against the passage of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
The police, however, did not file any charges against the detainees immediately following the arrest, which was also executed without a warrant.
Bahaghari spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas highlighted these circumstances when she explained the reason for filing a raps against the police.
“Hindi kami papayag na sa kabila ng pang-aalipusta, sa kabila ng iligal na aresto, iligal na pagkakakulong sa amin ay papayagan lang namin na dumaan lang ‘yun na walang nangyari. Di po kami papayag doon. So expect that we will file counter charges against them, the Manila Police,” Salinas told reporters.
“After 51 years of Stonewall no, di parin tapos ang ating laban and now, we will throw the first brick. At naniniwala po kami na tama at wasto ang aming panawagan para sa pantay na karapatan,” she added.
HAPPENING NOW: Protestors arrested at last Friday's Pride March at Mendiola are now being released from the Manila Police District after being illegally detained for 5 days. Panoorin ang paglaya ng Bahaghari! #FreePride20 https://t.co/7lQMdYSPJJ
— #FreePride20 | #SulongWagPatinag | #TayoAngLunas (@mmprideorg) June 30, 2020
Salinas also shared encouraging words to her followers on Twitter.
“Wag nating hayaang ibura sa kasaysayan: sa Pride March ng 2020, ang LGBTQ+, at ang mga kulay ng bahaghari, ang unang suminag sa Mendiola, isinabuhay ang militansya ng Stonewall, at pinamunuan ang laban kontra-pasismo,” she said.
Malaya na po kami. Pero di pa tapos ang laban.
‘Wag nating hayaang ibura sa kasaysayan: sa Pride March ng 2020, ang LGBTQ+, at ang mga kulay ng bahaghari, ang unang suminag sa Mendiola, isinabuhay ang militansya ng Stonewall, at pinamunuan ang laban kontra-pasismo.#FreePride20 pic.twitter.com/35XHtP3TBw
— Rey Valmores-Salinas (@rosereyde) June 30, 2020
The group’s lawyer Minnie Lopez also told Philippine Daily Inquirer that they need to fight for their rights against law enforcers amid the pandemic.
“There is a clear pattern of impunity here … Human rights do not stop just because there is a pandemic. If we do not fight for our rights now, the situation will only worsen afterward,” she said.
The complaint against 17 individuals who were part of the Pride 20 was referred for further preliminary investigation.
The charges filed against them are a violation of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, the Public Assembly Act and Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code or disobedience against authority.
However, they are still allowed to file counter-affidavits.
Discrimination in detention
Although they welcomed the case development, Gabriela Women’s Party denounced the reports of discrimination and harassment experienced by the detainees.
“There were reports of deliberate misgendering, wherein that the police did not allow a transwoman from sleeping in the girl’s detention room because they claimed that she wasn’t a real woman,” Gabriela said in a statement posted on Facebook Monday.
“Others also said that the police refused to bring in food, clothes and toiletries donated for the detainees. What’s worse is that some police officers were even caught watching pornography,” it added.
PRIDE 20 ARE FINALLY FREE! Gabriela Women's Party welcomes the release of 20 LGBTQ+ rights advocates and allies who…
Gabriela also noted that the arrest of Pride 20 is only among the many apparent illegal arrests of activists and ordinary Filipinos during the Duterte administration.
“Tuloy ang laban! Isa lamang ito sa napakaraming kaso ng illegal arrests sa mga aktibista at ordinaryong mamamayan ng walang due process. We will continue the fight and hold these cops accountable for committing acts of violence and harassment towards LGBTQ+ activists and allies,” it said.
Piston 6 and Cebu 8 were nabbed for holding protest for their livelihood and call to junk anti-terrorism bill, respectively.
They were apprehended despite then ease of restrictions, the implementation of general community quarantine.