The Statement -
"The Black & White Movement denounces the paranoid and heavy-handed treatment of citizens in the City of Manila, including the arrest of Enteng Romano and Dinky Soliman for daring to cross Roxas Boulevard at a Ped Xing. Apparently, Baywalk is only for the privileged few. Manila is the capital of repression".
That text, sent out to media within minutes of the arrest of Enteng and Dinky perfectly described the scene as it was. Last night's experience brought a whole new meaning to the lyric "namamasyal sa Luneta". So much for the hospitality of the City of Manila.
The Story -
We got to the front of Aristocrat at about 5:45pm. Some of us went into the restaurant for something to eat. Eventually, people began to arrive. We were joined by folks we'd never met before, too, and that boosted our spirits. By the time the sun began to set, there were about 22 of us. Everyone was in black, but some wanted to wear the "Patalsikin Na! Now Na!" tees, so we gave them out. Some even had the "Makapili" disguise, a cap, dark glasses and makeshift hood to parody Jimmy Fuentes, the Palace's "surprise witness". Our youngest participant, a beautiful 3 year old (sorry, I just met them last night and the ensuing chaos caused me to forget his name, but will always remember him as our angel) wore his tee shirt without much complaint. Due to the benign attention given to us at the last two Black Friday events, we thought having a child in our group was not going to be a problem.
We hadn't even left the restaurant sidewalk when we were accosted by Col. Marcelino Pedrozo of the WPD and 50 cops. We were truly surprised at the attention. Enteng and Dinky tried to negotiate. The Colonel kept saying that they had intel that we were going to "do something" but never said what "it" was (It's obvious their intel guys don't surf the blogs). He pointed out our tee shirts. I asked what law prohibited us from wearing tee shirts like ours. Since when was this illegal? He had no answer except, "Basta, alam namin na may gagawin kayo". Dinky countered that we were well within our rights to stroll along the Baywalk, wasn't it open to the public? Since when was this illegal? The Colonel was on the phone a lot, obviously being given orders to take a hard stand. Enteng kept saying that we were not going to do a rally, merely walk on the Baywalk. We had no placards, banners, not even a megaphone. No one was chanting or yelling, merely pleading our case. Was this illegal? The colonel also made the media a part of the issue, saying that if there was press, we were probably "up to something". Since when was it illegal to have news media around?
When Dinky realized that negotiations were going nowhere, she announced that she would walk Baywalk alone and began walking, Enteng followed close behind, the rest of us kept pace. The cops surrounded the two when they reached the crosswalk. We made sure to keep right by them, and waited for the light to change. Just as it did, Enteng heard Col. Pedrozo get an order from whomever it was on his cellphone, and that's when he called out , "ok, i-aresto na ninyo ito" gesturing toward Enteng. Two cops got hold of his arms, and Enteng reached out for Dinky as she was also grabbed. Several bystanders were overheard saying, "wala na talagang demokrasya sa Pilipinas", shaking their heads. Many of us heard that as we followed our friends to the glass enclosed Precinct No.9. Although we were enraged at the arrests, none of us blew our cool. Some of us did the thumbs down sign as cars along the side street passed, but we did not block traffic.
Once we found out that they were going to be brought to WPD, we piled into cars and cabs to follow. It wasn't long before our lawyer friends arrived - Edwin Lacierda, Hec Soliman (Dinky's husband), ex Sec. Butch Abad, Marvic Leonen, Marlon Manuel. What an impressive team! Meanwhile, our phones kept ringing with calls of support from family and friends.
The police planned on charging Enteng and Dinky with something, but they seemed to take their time in making a decision. Supt. Paglinawan didn't appear to be too keen about having to charge them with "something" at the time. And so, we waited.
Our biggest surprise was the arrival of former Pres. Cory Aquino. She was accompanied by her son, Cong. Noynoy Aquino. Cory refused to be dissuaded from coming over. She brought comfort, confidence, and chocolate. Her arrival also changed the atmosphere in the station, as if the police were dumbstruck, only then realizing that they may have made a boo boo. They had turned a molehill into a mountain.
Cory's presence also sped up the pace at which the cops were going. They finally came up with a charge, violation of BP880, illegal assembly. From there, we all trooped to City Hall to face night court. Many of us waited outside the door of Fiscal Ramos as she discussed the case with the police and the lawyers. We got to read the affidavit submitted by Col. Pedrozo - it said Dinky and Enteng were accused of leading a "lighting (sic) rally". When asked by the fiscal what the cops meant by that, they had trouble explaining it. They were admonished to look up the meaning of the phrase. Dinky and Enteng were told to apply for a permit "next time". They were released upon their own recognizance pending further investigation. Please refer to Edwin Lacierda for his report on what transpired inside the fiscal's office.
As we left the building, we were greeted by around 30 of our friends that were holding a candlelight vigil. They applauded both Dinky and Enteng and we all broke into singing "Bayan Ko". Oh dear! A rally right outside Manila City Hall! I wondered if Mayor Atienza was having a nightmare. Maybe we'd be arrested right there! But no such bad luck - the police were hightailing out of City Hall!