Arrested MEPZA protesters released

By: Futch Anthony Inso - CDN Digital Correspondent | December 01,2020 - 10:07 PM

Some 300 MEPZA workers protested in front of the export processing compound after they were laid-off from work last week. | Photo courtesy of Partido Mangagawa-Cebu

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines — The five rallyists who were apprehended by the police in Lapu-Lapu City on Monday, November 30, 2020, have been freed after paying the fine. Their case was also dismissed by the City Prosecutor’s Office.

Dennis Derige, spokesperson of Partido Manggagawa (PM)-Cebu, told CDN Digital that at around 6 p.m. today, December 1, 2020, he was released from the custody of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Station 5, together with his companions Jonel Labrador and Joksan Branzuela.

On Monday, the three were arrested by policemen for staging a protest rally near the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) during the day the country commemorated the 157th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio. Aside from them, two other protesters identified as Myra Opada and Cristito Pangan, were also nabbed by policemen during the activity.

They were part of about 300 MEPZ workers who staged a rally in front of the company after they were retrenched last week.

All five of them were charged for violating the health and safety protocol for not bringing a quarantine pass while the rest of the protesters were allowed to go home.

But Derige said that Opada and Pangan were immediately released that day after they paid the fine of P1,000.

Meanwhile, additional charges of disobedience for resisting arrest were filed against Derige, Labrador, and Branzuela. The three also paid the fine for violating the quarantine pass protocol.

“Dismissed gyud. Nakagawas mi not on bail, but gi-dismiss gyud sa fiscal (ang disobedience for resisting arrest),” Derige said.

The group is also planning to file counter-charges against the policemen who arrested them.

But for now, Derige said that their main concern is to undergo swab testing for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) after they were detained in a very small detention cell with around 16 inmates.

“Gipriso mi kay naka-violate daw mi ng quarantine-mass gathering, pero gitanggong mi sa usa ka lugar nga walay klaro. Tan-awa yung selda namo, mura’g 3 meters by 3 meters, unya 16 mi kabuok,” he added.

Aside from this, detained prisoners were not also wearing personal protective gear, such as a face mask and face shield.

He said that as of the moment, they are now on home quarantine.

Police Colonel Arnel Banzon, director of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LCPO), for his part, explained that the city is still under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) and that health and safety protocol measures are still being implemented.

“Gibawal gyud no ang pagtapok-tapok ug ingon-niana, kay naa paman gyud ang pandemic,” Banzon said.

Banzon added that this should serve as a lesson to the public not to be complacent in observing the health and safety protocols because the authorities are still strictly enforcing these policies./rcg

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TAGS: Bonifacio Day rallyists, COVID-19, MEPZ protesters released, MEPZA, quarantine protocols, retrenched workers

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