Stop criminalizing volunteerism and humanitarian intervention! Release Ex-Anakpawis solon Ariel Casilao and relief volunteers now! — Migrante International

Migrante International condemns in the strongest terms the arrest of Former Anakpawis House Representative Ariel Casilao along with several humanitarian aid volunteers who were on their way to deliver relief goods to needy communities in Norzagaray, Bulacan. They were apprehended on Sunday morning, 19th of April, without any legal basis by Bulacan PNP. Seeing humanitarian volunteers being harassed and yelled at by a barking police officer really shows that PNP, under the direction of President Duterte, is really rabid in its aim to persecute progressive groups even to the extent of criminalizing volunteerism and humanitarian intervention. 

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The volunteers of Tulong Anakpawis and Sagip Kanayunan had secured necessary permits and observed precautionary measures like social distancing and the wearing of face masks in their relief operations. From a video uploaded on social media, it can be seen that one of the police officers was growling about the inclusion of reading materials in the relief items. The reading materials included a periodical and some leaflets containing important data from DOH and WHO. PNP should remind itself that the imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine did not nullify the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and that of the press. Any uniformed personnel who thinks otherwise and goes ahead with trampling of people’s rights are lawless crooks who deserve public derision. 

President Duterte’s stubborn fixation on imposing a militarist approach to a public health crisis is proving to be more detrimental than ever with the number of arrests and detention way higher than actual recoveries. Instead of mass testing and mass treatment, the Duterte regime has resorted to mass arrests and enforced mass starvation. Nobody can dispute the hunger and desperation being felt by the masses. Many families are bearing the brunt of government neglect. This is why Migrante International, Anakpawis and other advocacy groups are fully active in providing aid and relief to poor communities. If the suffering of the Filipino people is to be alleviated speedily, there must be an enabling environment for public or civil society participation. 

We strongly demand for the immediate release of Former Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao and the several humanitarian aid volunteers. Migrante International calls on all its member organizations to rise up and join hands with our solidarity allies in opposing the worsening militarization and Fascist reign of terror being enforced by the Duterte regime. 

Tulong hindi kulong!

Bigas hindi dahas!

Solusyong medikal, hindi militar!

Ayuda, hindi diktadura!

Duterte resign!

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