A large group of police personnel was deployed around the main campus of De La Salle University in Manila in a supposed attempt “to intimidate and disperse” the Lasallian protesters voicing their opposition against the anti-terrorism bill on Independence Day.
Lawyer and former Liberal Party senatorial candidate Erin Tañada shared that “there were around 40 PNP in fatigues” who appeared outside the gates of the Taft-based campus even before the program started on Friday morning.
Happy #122IndependeceDay Here at DLSU Taft…when the program started there were 40 PNP in fatigues that appeared at the gates. Thank you DLSU for fighting for what is right. #LawyersALLRISE #JunkTerrorBill #Mananita #BawiinAngKalayaan #IpaglabanAngKalayaan #VetoTerrorBill pic.twitter.com/gCQOk3yy3U
— Erin Tañada (@erintanada) June 12, 2020
One La Salle for Human Rights and Democracy, an alliance of progressive organizations in the De La Salle Philippines system, reported that there were “around 50 police personnel” who were deployed while the protest took place.
“Before the mobilization even started, police personnel carrying truncheons with them were seen roaming around the area,” the group said on its Facebook page.
A truncheon is a stick used by police officers as a weapon.
The group also condemned the dispersal of the large group of PNP and claimed that the protesters “were practicing their right to free speech and dissent with adherence to social distancing.”
“Despite these, Lasallians continued with the program and still raised their placards and calls without any hesitation,” it added.
“Mag-po-protest din ba mga pulis diyan? Ano gawin nila diyan,” a Facebook user commented.
LOOK: Around 50 police personnel were deployed around DLSU to intimidate and disperse the Lasallian Family Protest….
Others questioned the need for the law enforcers to carry a long truncheon despite the non-violent activity.
“Jusko at may mga pang hampas talaga sila…” wrote a Facebook user.
“What is this for?” another online user asked with an eyeroll emoji.
Several other pictures that were taken by the campus’ Filipino student publication, “Ang Pahayagang Plaridel,” showed lots of police officers along Taft Avenue.
One of their vehicles is from the Malate Police Station which is under the National Capital Region Police Office, the same office headed by the controversial Metro Manila Police Major General Debold Sinas.
NAGPROTESTA ang pamayanang Lasalyano ngayong Araw ng Kalayaan sa harap ng St. La Salle Hall Facade, Hunyo 12. Inorganisa…
Members of the Lasallian community who oppose the Anti-Terrorist Act of 2020 were previously invited to voice their opposition and join the protest in the facade of the St. La Salle Hall.
The program started with a Lasallian family protest action, followed by its departure to the University of the Philippines-Diliman, where the main demonstration against the anti-terror bill is taking place.
A checkpoint was also established at the entrance of the state university’s University Avenue, the venue of the main demonstration, despite an agreement that law enforcers cannot enter the campus without approval of the school administration.
The act was condemned by Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, a UP alumna, who appealed for the removal of the checkpoints.
Sen. Joel Villanueva also reminded PNP of the agreement, also known as the 1982 Soto-Enrile Accord, when reports of the police-manned checkpoint surfaced.
Reminding PNP of the 1989 accord: “no member of police may conduct operations on UP campuses without prior coordination with, or as requested by UP authorities" #ArawNgKalayaan pic.twitter.com/33cZR5ToAR
— Joel Villanueva (@senatorjoelv) June 12, 2020
On the eve of Independence Day, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that mass gatherings and protests are temporarily banned.
“Solely for public health reasons and nothing else, mass gatherings, including protest rallies, are temporarily banned to avoid direct transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Guevarra told Rappler.
During the Friday anti-terror bill demonstration, dubbed “Grand Mañanita,” groups who attended practiced social distancing as they promised.
Last week, police officers in anti-riot gear arrested activists outside UP Cebu who peacefully protested against the anti-terror bill for supposedly violating the government’s ban on mass gatherings.
The UP Office of the Student Regent denounced the arrests and cited the accord that prohibits law enforcers from entering the campus without the administration’s knowledge.
The anti-terror bill has provisions that were seen to potentially curtail constitutionally-protected civil liberties and stifle dissent.
Some of these provisions include the legalization of wiretapping, granting of warrantless arrests without redress of grievances and having a vague definition of terrorism.