Graphics by Geraldine Pearl Santos

A spate of arrests has marred this year’s Labor Day celebration as more than 70 individuals across the country, mostly relief operations volunteers, have been rounded up in just one day. 

Youth-led initiatives were not spared with three UP Diliman students and 15 other relief operations volunteers arrested earlier during a community kitchen program in Barangay Central, Quezon City.

They were charged with a violation of the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases Act, a 2018 law that lays down policies for surveillance and response to epidemics, in relation to Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and the Public Assembly Act.

Volunteers of Tulong Kabataan Network were reportedly preparing to launch “Kusinang Kabataan,” a feeding program led by Citizens’ Urgent Response to End COVID-19 (Cure COVID), when police in plain clothes escorted them to Camp Karingal. 

This came after they assisted 15 residents and jeepney drivers who the barangay accused of participating in Mayo Uno activities, according to Tulong Kabataan Network. 

Among those detained are two undergraduate students from the College of Social Science and Philosophy (CSSP) and one graduate student from the College of Science (CS).

The youth volunteers have been conducting relief work as early as March with the permission of the LGU, according to the National Union of the Students of the Philippines (NUSP).

“Their arrest today, we believe, is part of a systemic attack on progressive groups,” said NUSP Deputy Secretary General Lilac Fameronag. 

Nationwide arrests 

Relief volunteers and labor leaders were also arrested in other parts of Luzon. 

Ten Cure COVID and Bayanihang Marikenya Marikenyo volunteers were rounded up while conducting a feeding program in Marikina City. Mayor Marcy Teodoro has since called the incident an “overreaction by the police” and ordered their release. 

Meanwhile, 42 were apprehended in Jaro Plaza, Iloilo City after 50 policemen blocked the indignation caravan for slain Bayan Muna leader Jory Porquia. 

Seven of the 42 are journalists, according to Bulatlat. 

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said the arrests should serve as a wake-up call for people to speak out.

“It is but just and it is but right to speak out and act for our people’s rights and wellbeing. What the police are doing is illegal, and they should be made to answer and be accountable,” Palabay said.

 

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