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‘Piston president’s arrest not part of DU30’s crackdown on communists’

The arrest of militant transport leader George San Mateo is not part of President Duterte’s crackdown on communists, Malacañang assured the public yesterday.

At a Palace briefing, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said San Mateo is charged with valid cases and that it is not a form of harassment to activists.
“I think he was warned that as a holder of a franchise, a certificate of public convenience...it is criminal and it is illegal for them to participate in any transport strike,” Roque said.
“San Mateo defied (it). He now has to face the consequences,” he added.
San Mateo, president of transport group Piston, was arrested yesterday in front of the Quezon City Hall of Justice due to an arrest warrant dated December 1.
The warrant of arrest against San Mateo is for violation of Section 20(k) of Commonwealth Act No. 14(6) and that is for a franchise holder.
The case is related to a Piston-led nationwide strike last February to protest the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.
Notably, there were other groups that also launched transport strikes after February but none of them was rapped.
Moreover, Roque stressed San Mateo’s arrest is more of the government’s message against those who go against the law.
“Well, it sends the message that if you violate the law, you will be prosecuted by authorities. That is after all the duty of the State. We can’t have it any other way. They were warned,” Roque said.
“It is also pursuant to the warrant of arrest duly issued by the court and, therefore, there can be no harassment here. We are just allowing the rule of law to prevail,” he added.
Sen. Grace Poe, who earlier had convinced San Mateo to postpone Piston’s nationwide strike supposedly this week, said she found the arrest as “suspect.”
“Although we respect the independence of the courts, the timing of the release of the arrest warrant is suspect and casts doubt on the intent of the complainant in filing such charges,” Poe said in a statement.
“The PUV modernization program should be borne from a democratic process and not from underhanded tactics,” she added.
Poe also pointed out the charges that dumped San Mateo to jail appears to be vague.
“Everyone has the right to peaceably assemble. It is unclear based on the cited section of the Public Service Act what exactly San Mateo violated,” the senator said.
“If holding a strike is tantamount to a violation under any memorandum of the (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board), then the proper penalty should have been a fine or suspension or cancellation of their franchise, not threatening their leader with incarceration,” she stressed.
Piston’s leftist ally Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) connected San Mateo’s arrest to Mr. Duterte’s threat to track down alleged legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said the charges against San Mateo are somewhat ancient Philippine laws rarely invoked.
“We condemn the attempt to serve a warrant of arrest against George San Mateo of Piston, who faces trumped-up charges for allegedly violating the Commonwealth Act 146, a law that dates back to 1936. The case is pure harassment and intimidation,” Reyes said in a statement.
“This came in the wake of Duterte’s threats of a crackdown on legal activists, and his slandering of mass organizations as mere ‘legal fronts’ of the CPP,” he added.

3 comments

  • Wayne Segador

    Senator Grace Poe we are really hoping na mas matulungan niyo po ang grupo na ito since parang sa lahat ng mga senators eh ikaw lang naglakas ng loob maging concern sa kanila.Kaya nga napapayag mo sila itigil yung strike kaya lang si Tugade po ata Mam may iba din na plano para hndi matuloy ang hearing

    Wayne Segador Wednesday, 06 December 2017 06:26 Comment Link
  • Bryan Conde

    Masyado ata nagamit ang authority dito asan ung democratic na sinsabi?eto pa, sa lahat ng effort ni Senator Grace para maayos to oh anu na mangyayari? wala kaya lalong hndi magkakaron ng maayos na usapan.

    Bryan Conde Wednesday, 06 December 2017 06:22 Comment Link
  • Tanya Alicante

    It was Tugade who planned all of this first from moving the Senate Hearing tapos eto naman ang pagkahuli kay George San Mateo.Natural na mag taka ang mga tao pati na si Senator Grace sa mga ganitong galawan

    Tanya Alicante Wednesday, 06 December 2017 06:13 Comment Link

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