Youth, labor groups demand release of 6 activists arrested on Labor Day

Photo by Manila Collegian

by DOMINIC GUTOMAN
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – “Peaceful and justified,” these are the words of Azrael de Guzman, one of the six arrested youth activists during the May 1 protest, in an open letter to the public, calling for their immediate release.

“It is not a crime to call for wage increase, job generation, and labor rights, especially in the [International] Labor Day,” he said in a letter gathered by his youth organization, Anakbayan.

He also added that despite their peaceful demands, the state forces responded with violent dispersal and their arrest.

The detained activists’ profiles, dubbed “Mayo Uno 6,” are as follows: three students came from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, one from UP Manila, and two youth activists from Anakbayan.

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno said that the Manila Police District (MPD) uses excessive force and “leaves little to no space for maximum tolerance, particularly near the United States embassy.”

The group called for the immediate release of six activists and asked for a quick and impartial investigation into the MPD’s failure to observe maximum tolerance for their peaceful mobilization.

In an earlier report of Bulatlat, the police barricaded the protesters in Kalaw. They attempted to disperse the protesters, leaving many injured after they were hit with shields and truncheons. Later on, the police used a water cannon against them.

Read: 6 arrested at the labor day protest

De Guzman’s organization, Anakbayan, is continuously mobilizing resources to support the arrested activists’ basic needs. They condemned the delayed release of the six activists, asserting that the conduct of their arrest was unlawful.

“We also maintain that the arrest was unjustified given that the protesters are merely exercising their right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly,” Anakbayan said.

In a press conference, MPD Director PBGen. Arnold Thomas said the arrest was lawful, saying that the protesters violated the Batas Pambansa (BP) 880 because they “do not have a permit.”

However, BP 880 also highlighted the “non-interference of law enforcement authorities” for its mandate. It is also stated in Section 12 of BP 880 that the dispersal of assembly without a permit shall be conducted peacefully and that they must adhere to the policy of “maximum tolerance.”

De Guzman also wrote that despite their detention, they will continue to stand by their principles in fighting against contractualization, inhumane wages, lack of benefits, union-busting, and other labor rights violations to the workers.

“Behind bars, the fight continues,” said De Guzman. (RVO)

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