Petitions to raise funds for the release of seven detained members of progressive groups were launched online on Friday afternoon following their arrest over alleged quarantine violations.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Cebu reported that activists from various organizations in Cebu City staged a rally in front of the University of the Philippines-Cebu at around 10 a.m. to reject the passage of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
However, based on a video the group shared online, the supposedly peaceful protest was forcefully dispersed and resulted in the arrest of seven activists, coined as the “Cebu 7” on social media.
The seven individuals who were arrested are journalist Dyan Gumanao of Aninaw Productions, Jaime Paglinawan of BAYAN CenVis, Johanna Veloso of NUSP, Nar Porlas of Anakbayan UP Cebu, Al Ingking a UP alumnus, Bern Cañedo of YANAT Cebu, and Janry Ubal from Food Not Bombs Cebu.
The College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Cebu vehemently condemns the forced entry of police elements into the…
Some activists then sought help from local Twitter to raise a community bail fund to free the seven students using the hashtag #releaseCebu7.
They placed a phone number for Gcash, a virtual wallet of Globe Telecom, and other details where Filipinos can course their donations.
The hashtag immediately topped the Philippines trend on the micro-blogging platform with over 100,000 tweets.
“We are fundraising bail money for those arrested today in UP Cebu Campus. The police came onto UP campus but this is barred accdg to the Soto Enrile Accord,” one Twitter user said.
TWITTER WE NEED HELP!
We are fundraising bail money for those arrested today in UP Cebu Campus. The police came onto UP campus but this is barred accdg to the Soto Enrile Accord.
— COVID PARAS #JunkTerrorBill (@ajmirandilla_) June 5, 2020
Kobe Paras, a member of the UP Fighting Maroons Men’s Basketball Team, also expressed on Twitter his intent to donate for the arrested protesters.
“I saw the news in Cebu about my fellow Isko and Iskas. To all my people there who got arrested Thank you standing up for what is right,” Paras said.
“To all my Isko and Iskas in Cebu and everywhere else, stay strong, stay safe, and stand ten toes down. We will raise money to bail those affected!” he added.
I saw the news in Cebu about my fellow isko and Iskas.
To all my people there who got arrested
Thank you standing up for what is right.
To all my isko and iskas in cebu & everywhere else, stay strong, stay safe, and stand ten toes down.
We will raise money to bail those affected!
— Kobe Lorenzo Forster Paras ✊🏽 (@_kokoparas) June 5, 2020
Paras also previously voiced his dissent against the measure and encouraged other influencers to use their platforms to do the same.
“If you have a voice/platform and you’re silent during this time…You’re one of those privileged people that are ignorant and selfish,” Paras said on June 1.
“For all those so-called ‘influencers,’ we don’t need your selfies or throwback pics…we don’t need any of that right now! Use your damn voice and stand up for what is right!” he added.
— Kobe Lorenzo Forster Paras ✊🏽 (@_kokoparas) June 1, 2020
Paras’ teammate Ricci Rivero also reportedly pledged his support to his fellow UP students detained in Cebu.
Details of the dispersal
Based on reports, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) said that the protesters violated the government’s ban on mass gatherings according to general community quarantine rules.
CPPO Deputy Director Melbert Esguerra said in an interview that they gave them 10 minutes to disperse.
They were brought to the CCPO headquarters and were detained there.
Posts from CEGP-Cebu, meanwhile, showed that the elite Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) was deployed after the program started. Police also arrived in anti-riot gear outside the UP-Cebu premises.
In one of the videos which made rounds online, Gumanao was shown shouting for her rights as she was forced to board a SWAT patrol car.
— CEGP Cebu (@CEGPCebu) June 5, 2020
Others also criticized that the police officers themselves did not observe social distancing rules.
In a statement on Facebook, UP Office of the Student Regent denounced the arrest of the protesters, citing the existing UP-DND Accord which prohibits law personnel from entering the premises of the country’s premier university.
WE CONDEMN. RELEASE OUR STUDENTS NOW!7 students, including UP Cebu student leaders, were arrested today at the UP Cebu…
“It is also to be noted that there is an existing UP-DND Accord which prohibits elements of the police and military to enter the premises of the university without the knowledge of the campus administration. Yesterday, hundreds joined the protest in UP Diliman and yet, it ended safely and peacefully,” it stated.
“We demand their safe and immediate release now. Their safe and peaceful gathering amid a pandemic shows the desperation of the masses to protect our Constitutional rights,” it added.
On Friday afternoon, the Philippine National Police issued a reminder urging the public to avoid mass protests amid the general community quarantine.”As responsible Filipino citizens, we should avoid any opportunity for possible human-to-human transmission of a deadly virus that even UP scientists themselves are trying so hard to eradicate,” the PNP said.
“Mass action compromises public health and welfare as well as the rallyists’ own safety,” it added.
The PNP said that it “supports alternative means to exercise freedom of expression like what some labor groups did las May 1.” Some labor groups held online protests via Zoom.
The police force’s statement was posted a day after some groups mobilized in Quezon City on Thursday to also reject the anti-terrorism bill.
Both Metro Manila and Cebu City were placed under GCQ since June 1.