Isko Moreno on arrest of ‘vandals’: You were warned

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 1) — Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said alleged vandals from a left-leaning art group must now face the full force of the law after being warned against vandalism.

“You were warned. Nag-abiso na ako. Nananawagan po ako na huwag ninyo nang ulitin. Inulit niyo pa rin. Sinusubukan niyo kung may batas at liderato sa Maynila,” Moreno said Sunday on Twitter, reacting to a report on four members of Panday Sining being arrested.

[Translation: You were warned. I already announced this. I pleaded for you not to do it again. But you repeated it. You are testing the law and leadership of Manila.]

Kailangan niyo pong harapin ngayon ang bisa ng batas,” he added.

[Translation: You need to face the force of the law.]

Panday Sining reported Saturday that four of their members, including a minor, were “abducted by police in civilian clothing” while riding a jeepney around Mendiola after protests in time for Bonifacio Day.

“They were man-handled and beaten while being dragged outside the jeepney,” the group claimed.

It added, “Protest art in the time of narrowing space for free and critical thinking is not only just but necessary.”

Panday Sining did not mention why their four members were “abducted,” but Moreno’s statement sent to media is headed with “On the arrested vandals.”

Moreno and left-leaning vandals had butted heads before over vandalism on the walls of a freshly-painted underpass in the country’s capital.

The vandalizing irked Moreno, who lamented that it took 15 years before the local government was finally able to clean the underpass, making it more accessible and pleasing to commuters. He threatened the group behind the graffiti that they'd have to scrub the walls using their tongue.

Panday Sining apologized to the public for the "inconvenience," but it said the ongoing "de facto" martial law in Mindanao, which has been in place since May 2017, is a pressing concern.

"We understand and recognize the sentiments of the public, but it is also high time that we talk about the worsening attacks to our democratic rights. The purpose of our protest art isn't to spite the citizens of Manila but to sound the alarm of the public against these injustices," it said in a statement last month.

The group said they are willing to meet with Moreno, whom they said share the "same sentiment about wanting just and lasting peace."