Amnesty International Philippines
26 June 2020
Responding to the arrest and detention on 20 LGBT activists during a Pride March in Manila, Section Director Butch Olano said:
“Twenty LGBT activists will now spend a weekend behind bars for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly. This incident follows a very familiar pattern of the PNP crushing activism while hiding behind vague quarantine protocols.
“What happened today, ahead of the weekend Pride celebrations, is a clear violation of these activists’ civil liberties. These 20 individuals have done nothing wrong, as illustrated by the fact that the police failed to explain what they were being charged with during arrest. Their arrest and detention are baseless and unlawful therefore they must be immediately and unconditionally released. Any trumped-up charges must also be dropped.
“Failing to protect the people’s right to protest only endangers more lives. Amnesty International Philippines calls on the PNP and the government to end unlawful arrests and detention of peaceful protesters especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and break the cycle of repression.”
On 26 June, Manila Police arrested 20 activists who staged a protest in celebration of the Pride Month despite observing quarantine protocols on physical distancing. The police allegedly didn’t explain precisely what the charges were and instead said “Nasa batas iyan na bawal iyan (It’s in the law that it’s prohibited),” without citing any specific law. The individuals were then charged with disobedience of person in authority in relation to Republic Act 11332, otherwise known as the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases, and Batas Pambansa 880, otherwise known as Public Assembly Act.