MANILA, Philippines — Minority senators on Friday condemned the police’s alleged illegal inspection of bar customers along Katipunan Avenue near the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in Quezon City last Wednesday, Sept. 13.
In a statement issued through the office of Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV during the International Day of Democracy, the Senate minority bloc claimed that the surprise inspections were tantamount to threat and intimidation tactics as these were done after the Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion protested against extrajudicial killings and the House of Representatives’ move to reduce the Commission on Human Right’s 2018 budget to P1,000.
“Nagkakaisa ang Senate Minority Bloc laban sa pananakot at intimidation tactics ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno, lalo na kapag ang kabataang Pilipino ang pinatatamaan ng mga ito.”
During their halftime performance against the University of the Philippines in the UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) Season 80, members of the ADMU team, wearing black shirts, raised placards with the message, “Stop the EJKs, Uphold Human Rights.” They also tore a replica of a P1,000-bill.
Oplan Bakal: Illegal or part of cops’ regular operations?
While the police said the inspections, also called Oplan Bakal, were part of regular operations and that they sought permission from the establishments, the senators said these were illegal because the searches, which included opening and inspecting the bags of bar customers, were done without warrants and thus were a form of police harassment.
“Una, ito’y iligal na gawain. P’wede lang buksan ng pulis ang bag ninuman kung may hawak silang search warrant. Ikalawa, pananakot ito at isang anyo ng police harassment…”
On Friday, Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, director of the Quezon City Police District, defended Oplan Bakal.
“We have been doing this for a long time, where we go into clubs, turn on the lights and announce the operation,” said Eleazar.
“Before you enter these establishments, like malls, security guards check your belongings…his operation is no different,” he added.
Not the first time
The lawmakers said this was not the first time that authorities allegedly threatened ADMU students.
Last August 24, while around 50 students and teachers were protesting at the ADMU gate against the Duterte administration’s war on drugs campaign that resulted in killings, including the death of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd delos Santos, policemen riding a vehicle without a license plate arrived in the area and asked what the demonstrators were fighting for and for a list of their names.
The senators are asking Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista to take action against the police’s alleged harassment of youth, who were just exercising their right to freedom of expression.
“Nananawagan tayo kay Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista na aksyunan ang harassment ng mga pulis sa mga kabataang nagpapahayag lang ng kanilang saloobin.”
“Huwag na huwag nating hayaang madurog ng intimidasyon at karahasan ang ating kalayaan at mga karapatan [Let us not allow our freedom and rights to be crushed by intimidation and violence],” the lawmakers said.
“Kasama po kami ng bawat Pilipino sa laban para sa demokrasiya, at laban kontra sa pang-aabuso ng may kapangyarihan [We are with every Filipino in the fight for democracy and against the abuses of those in power],” they added.
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