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Groups condemn arrest of youth leaders for hanging anti-Marcos banners

A LABOR coalition on Thursday denounced the arrest of youth leaders who put up banners expressing opposition to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who was inaugurated yesterday in the capital Manila.

In a statement, Nagkaisa said members of the Akbayan Youth and SENTRO Youth groups were violently arrested by police officers during a banner hanging activity near the Commission on Human Rights building along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

“This is unacceptable in a democratic society,” the group said. “We condemn this reprehensible act and it seems this new government is afraid of its own shadow on the eve of its first day of governance.”

Nagkaisa said police officers destroyed the banner and violently dragged three youth leaders to police vehicles.

“Throughout the incident, the officers refused to explain why the arrest was being made and were being very rough with the detained,” it said.

The Akbayan Party-list group announced on its Twitter page that the youth leaders were released from detention on Thursday afternoon.

It noted that the arresting police officers did not file charges against the activists.

“Why would you arrest them for hanging banners on a footbridge?” Renato M. Reyes, Jr., secretary general of progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said in a tweet. “Throwback to the Marcosian Martial Law indeed.”

The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said protestors are only allowed to hold demonstrations in designated freedom parks such as Liwasang Bonifacio and Plaza Miranda, in Manila.

Mr. Reyes noted in a separate tweet that protestors were requested by police to move their rally venue from Liwasang Bonifacio to Plaza Miranda, to avoid any conflict with Mr. Marcos’ supporters.

“We have been receiving reports that there are groups planning to stage rallies and they have the right to air out their grievances and issues,” PNP Director for Operations Valeriano T. de Leon told CNN Philippines on Thursday.

“But if they will get out of the freedom parks then we can no longer help but provide police response.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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