MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday assured due process for the six members of the Anakpawis Party-list who were detained after the police filed cases against them for violating the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) protocols, failing to practice social distancing, and attempting to organize a mass gathering in the guise of an alleged relief operation.
“The rule of law does not stop during a public health emergency. The DILG respects the rights of the detained Anakpawis members and we assure them that they will have their day in court. Since nahuli na sila, sa hukom na lang sila magpaliwanag (Since they have been caught, it is up for them to explain themselves in court),” DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, said in a news release.
Malaya said the Philippine National Police (PNP) saw a probable cause against Anakpawis because its members were caught in the act by the Norzagaray Police in a checkpoint.
“Clearly, they violated quarantine rules because they are Unauthorized Persons Outside of Residence (UPOR), they misrepresented a food pass to gain passage through checkpoints, there was no coordination with the LGU (local government unit) of Norzagaray, Bulacan for this alleged relief operation, and they intimidated our police officers by using a congressman who, in fact, is no longer an incumbent member of Congress, among others,” he said.
Malaya said those detained are entitled to adequate legal representation of their own choice and he has no doubt that a battery of lawyers would represent them.
“I’m sure a battalion of lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and Public Interest Law Center (PILC) has been mobilized by their central committee for this purpose. So, sa hukuman na lang sila magpaliwanag (they just explain in court),” he said.
Malaya reiterated that a food pass, even if issued by the Department of Agriculture, is not valid for the conduct of relief operations.
“They illegally used a food pass for another purpose when a food pass is for the transport of farm produce from farm to market. In fact, the use of the DILG logo for this purpose is again illegal and will not be tolerated by this department,” he added.
Malaya said the DILG and PNP have been very busy fighting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and seeking an end to the ECQ that it zaps their time, energy, and effort dealing with Anakpawis and similar “pasaway” (stubborn) organizations.
“Instead sana of being pasaway, tulungan ninyo na lang ang gobyerno (Instead of being stubborn, just help the government) for a change. Stay home and save lives,” he said.
Malaya said all six Anakpawis members have been charged with violating the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, as well as Section 9, Article 1132 (non-cooperation of persons) and Article 151 (resistance and disobedience to a person in authority) of the Revised Penal Code concerning the IATF directive dated April 2, 2020, the Department of Health’s Department Order 2020-0090, and Executive Order 922, Section 4 (all citizens are urged to act within the bounds of the law).
The IATF is the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Meanwhile, former Anakpawis representative, Ariel Casilao, will also be charged for usurpation of authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, according to the release. (PR)