ILIGAN CITY: The local police released 16 students at about 6 p.m. on Friday following their arrest for gathering at a public area for a silent protest marking the country’s 122nd Independence Day. They were detained at the Iligan City Police Station (ICPS) 5 for allegedly violating health protocols on social distancing, the chief of the station, Maj. Allan Abalde said.
“In the midst of the rally, (the) health protocol of social distancing was not observed, prompting the personnel of (the) Iligan City Police Station 5 and the City Intelligence Unit of the Iligan City Police Office to intervene in the activity at around 11 a.m. and invited the participants to ICPS 5 for the subsequent issuance of citation tickets,” Abalde said.
The protesters, who held up placards demanding the junking of the Anti-Terrorism Bill and calling for mass testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), were identified as belonging to the Stand IIT (Iligan Institute of Technology) and the Iligan Youth Advocate.
He said the students were released to their parents.
But a Manila daily reported quoting alleged witnesses and supporters as saying that none of the arrested student protesters were read their Miranda rights as they were apprehended by police, who later interrogated and intimidated them throughout their eight hours in detention.
The report said one of the students, who requested anonymity for their safety, said the arrests came after police allowed protesters to continue with their program after producing copies of city ordinances and the government-issued protocols of the modified community quarantine. Students asserted that they had the right to protest.
Gil Nambatac, a member of the Himugso Kolektibo, a group of young writers in Iligan City, said some of the arrested students were members and leaders of college-based organizations of the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).