Mayor orders release of 10 feeding program volunteers arrested in Marikina

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 1) — The mayor of Marikina City ordered the release of ten people arrested for supposedly holding a protest, amid a warning by the police that rallyists will be nabbed for violating quarantine rules.

The group Bayanihang Marikenyo at Marikina said the police took into custody volunteers of their community kitchens, which provide meals to families in 10 barangays amid the coronavirus crisis.

In a statement, Marikina Mayor Marcelino "Marcy" Teodoro said he has "immediately ordered" the release of the volunteers, adding that the police "overreacted" and "misinterpreted" the placards they were holding which bore messages calling for mass testing.

Maaring may placards silang dala pero May 1 ngayon, eh, bahagi ito ng pag-e-exercise nitong constitutional rights nila na freedom of expression,” Tedoro explained, adding that no case will be filed against them.

[Translation: They may have placards now but it's May 1, and it's part of exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression.]

Teodoro said the volunteers were even promoting the cause of the city government, which finally secured the Department of Health's approval to operate its own COVID-19 testing laboratory.

Labor groups have conducted online protests on Friday as the government continues to prohibit mass gatherings across the country to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Philippine National Police Chief General Archie Gamboa on Thursday warned that protesters will be arrested if they take to the streets, since this would be a violation of quarantine measures.

The PNP is implementing a zero-tolerance policy for quarantine violators, stressing that they will face immediate arrest, unlike in previous weeks when some were sent off with a warning. Local police have yet to release a report on the Marikina incident.