The chief of the Manila Police District today defended the seizure of protest materials from members of Akbayan Partylist group, who displayed them while a Mass was being held at Quiapo Church yesterday.
Brigadier General Rolando Miranda told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo that they learned what the protesters were doing when a church worker saw the group and complained about them to the police. The protesters were supporters of opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, who was also inside the building hearing Mass.
“We received information that they will storm out and while Senator Risa Hontiveros is having a presscon, they will stand behind her and serve as background. But if you’re in church and you wish to pray to the Black Nazarene, you don’t have to bring a placard to church and show your placard while praying,” Miranda said.
“What’s your purpose when going to church? To pray: pray for the country, for yourself, your friends. Not to brandish a placard that says ‘No to Anti-Terror [Law],” he added.
Recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Anti-Terror Law has been described by human rights activists as draconian because it could detain suspected terrorists without charges for up to 24 days. Numerous petitions, including one from religious leaders, have been filed before the Supreme Court to stop the government from implementing the law.
Miranda said that there was no commotion when the placards were seized from Akbayan members, whom he accused of disrespecting the sanctity of the Mass.
“The police talked to them in a proper manner. No one really noticed the police confiscating the materials. People just learned about it when they said it,” the police general said.
“It’s rude that people are hearing Mass and they would show their placards. They’re bothering other people who are listening to the Mass,” he added.
Meanwhile, Akbayan said in a statement released yesterday that they will file charges against the Manila police for taking their protest signs.
“The members of our partylist went to mass to seek justice and peace. We didn’t show any [protest] materials and we didn’t use them to organize a rally inside the church…They did not ask our permission before confiscating [the placards] and they did not explain why they had to take them. This is against police protocol and the act qualifies as theft,” the group said.