MANILA, Philippines — The Senate minority joined criticism of the frisking by police of bar patrons along Quezon City’s Katipunan Avenue and called on Mayor Herbert Bautista to act on what it called the “harassment” of youth dissenters.
In a statement, the lawmakers said they stood with those opposed to the “intimidation tactics” used by state agencies, especially against the youth.
On Wednesday night, personnel of Quezon City Police Station 9 in Anonas entered Katipunan establishments Tortuga, Lan Kwai, and Jeepney Bistro, frisking customers or searching their bags.
People immediately wondered if the operation was intended to intimidate students of the Ateneo de Manila University, which is along Katipunan, whose in cheering squad Blue Babble Battalion protested the P1,000 budget granted by the House of Representatives to the Commission on Human Rights and demanded an end to extrajudicial killings as they performed during a UAAP basketball game earlier in the day.
The police have insisted the operation was “regular” and undertaken at the request of the barangay captain of Loyola Heights. However, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and other legal and human rights experts said the police operation was illegal and violated basic rights, particularly against unreasonable searches and invasion of privacy.
The senators agreed.
“Una, ito’y iligal na gawain. Pwede lang buksan ng pulis ang bag ninuman kung may hawak silang search warrant. Ikalawa, pananakot ito at isang anyo ng police harassment at hindi ito ang kauna-unahang insidenteng nanakot ang pulis sa mga mag-aaral na ADMU.”
(First, this is an illegal act. Police can only open someone’s bag if they have a search warrant. Second, this is intimidation and a form of police harassment and is not the first incident of intimidation by police against students of ADMU.)
They cited an August 24 protest by Ateneo students and faculty against the killing of Kian delos Santos, when a police patrol car without license plates parked nearby and officers questioned protesters about their activity and listed down their names.
“Nananawagan tayo kay Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista na aksyunan ang harassment ng mga pulis sa mga kabataang nagpapahayag lang ng kanilang saloobin (We call on Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista to act on the police harassment of youth who were merely expressing their sentiments),” they said.
“Tumitindig kami para depensahan ang ating demokrasiya at ang karapatan ng bawat Pilipino magsalita at tumutol sa gobyerno o anumang polisiya nito (We stand in defense of our democracy and the right of every Filipino to speak out and oppose government and its policies),” the lawmakers said.
“Huwag na huwag nating hayaang madurog ng intimidasyon at karahasan ang ating kalayaan at mga karapatan (Let us not let intimidation and violence crush our freedoms and rights),” they added.