The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) instructed local governments all over the Philippines today to prosecute vandals after an activist youth group smeared anti-government slogans in red paint on the Manila pedestrian tunnel Lagusnilad earlier this week.
DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told The Philippine Daily Inquirer that local governments should enforce their anti-vandalism ordinances and that the Philippine National Police could help them arrest violators. He added that vandalism is a form of malicious mischief, and cited Article 327 of the Revised Penal Code as his basis.
“Painting and fixing public walls and properties is no joke. In a few seconds it’s very easy for people to ruin them by vandalizing them,” Malaya said.
Malaya cited the efforts of Marikina City, where there are very few cases of vandalism because of a local ordinance that fines violators, Manila Bulletin reports. He added that since 2018, the city has apprehended only three alleged vandals.
The undersecretary’s statements come after Manila City Hall condemned the activist youth group Panday Sining (“Blacksmith Art”) for vandalizing the Lagusnilad underpass just a week after its newly refurbished look was unveiled to the public. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno was so angered by their actions that he threatened the vandals.
“If I catch you, I will make you lick off [those graffiti],” he said in an official statement.
Panday Sining has apologized for its actions, but said in a statement that “the matter and issues at hand are urgent. Left and right, ordinary people are being killed or jailed for criticizing this corrupt and fascist government.”
“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. The clear enemy is the fascist US-Duterte regime,” it said.