PNP arrest of journalist has ‘valid grounds’ — Bong Go

Sen. Bong Go

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has valid grounds and was simply doing its job to maintain peace and order and enforce the laws when it arrested journalist and Manila Today editor Ann Salem on December 10, 2020.

Go made this comment in a media interview after gracing the launching of the country’s 95th Malasakit Center in Marikina City on December 11, 2020.

“Hindi naman po sila aarestuhin kung wala pong (dahilan). Ibig sabihin kung may warrant of arrest, dumaan na sa korte. Sila ang nag-iisyu ng warrant at nagpapatupad lang ang PNP (They will not be arrested if there are no grounds. It means if there is warrant of arrest, it was the decision of the court. The court issued it and the PNP just implemented it),” Go said.

Aside from Salem, six trade union members were also arrested on December 10, according to rights group Karapatan.

The PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said Salem was arrested over illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Salem’s publication, Manila Today, was also tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as part of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Go said everyone has the right to exercise freedom of speech and criticize the government. But to start a movement that aims to destroy the government is not right and against the law.

“May karapatan kayong magsalita, may karapatan kayo to criticize the government pero wala kayong karapatan to destroy the government. Pinili ng taumbayan ‘yan, (You have the rights to speak, to criticize government but you have no right to destroy the government. The people voted for him) this is democracy,” Go said.

He said President Rodrigo Duterte has a fixed term and that the elections are nearing. Go suggested that those who want to overthrow the government should just participate in the electoral process if they want to govern the country.

“Pinili ‘yan (He was voted) for a period of six years, fixed po ang term na ‘yan. Respetuhin n’yo ang pinili. May eleksyon, tumakbo kayo sa eleksyon kung gusto niyo kayo ang mamuno sa bansa (That’s a fixed term. Respect the elected officials. The elections are coming, you can always run if you want to lead the country),” he said.

Go also aired his sentiment regarding the proposed peace talks spearheaded by the Office of the Vice President.

He questioned the authority of the office of Vice President Leni Robredo, citing that the President is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Ang tanong dyan, ano ba ang authority ng OVP when it comes to peace talks? Tandaan natin ang Presidente po ang commander-in-chief ng buong AFP. Kung makipag-usap po sila doon at di naman po sumunod, (The question is does the OVP has the authority when it comes to peace talks? Let’s remember that the President is the commander-in-chief of AFP. If they will talk to them and will not follow) what’s the use of it?,” Go said.

Go added that if whatever actions will be made during those so-called peace talks, its legitimacy will be questioned as the authority of command over the AFP rests on the President.

“Kaya nga po ang tanong ko, kung ano ang mapagkasunduan nila, sino ang susunod? Susunod ba ang AFP? Kasama ba ito sa (That’s why my question is whatever they would agree on, will this be implemented? Will AFP follow? Is it part of) chain of command?” Go asked.

He said the lives of everyone should not be sacrificed in the armed struggle being pursued by the New People’s Army.

“Ako naman mismo, personally, ayoko nagpapatayan ang mga Pilipino sa kapwa Pilipino. Kung may namamatay na sundalo, nauulila ang pamilya. Pag may namatay sa kabilang panig, nauulila rin ang kanilang pamilya (Personally, I don’t want to see Filipinos killing each other. If a soldier dies, one family will be orphaned. The same on the other side, their family will face the same fate),” Go said.

He said nothing will happen if the communists continue with their armed struggle as it would only lead to more sufferings for Filipinos.

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