HomeNewsGov’t prosecutor dismisses environmental raps against cultural artist

Gov’t prosecutor dismisses environmental raps against cultural artist

A Quezon City assistant city prosecutor dismissed the environmental case filed against activist and cultural worker Maximo Santiago and three others after they burned an effigy during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July.

The resolution, penned by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Nerissa Rhona V. Zamora-Amoroso, approved by the authority of the city prosecutor, dismissed the complaint filed against Santiago by two Quezon City police officers due to “insufficiency of evidence.”

The case stemmed from the alleged violations of the Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000, and of Republic Act No. 8749, or the Clean Air Act.

“At the outset, it is not even clear from their allegations in their joint complaint affidavit that the complainants had personal knowledge of the actual burning of the ‘doble kara’ effigy,” the resolution stated.

It also pointed out how the police officers admitted that they were assigned at the Anonas Police Station making it impossible for them to witness the effigy burning that happened along Commonwealth Avenue.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) welcomed the decision saying that the filing of the complaint was but an act of harassment aimed at silencing free speech and expression.

“The police wanted to send a chilling effect by criminalizing dissent, including the use of protest art,” said Bayan Secretary-General Mong Palatino, adding that Quezon City police officers have also filed two separate complaints against Bayan leaders and chapters in relation to the SONA protest.

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“Aside from wasting taxpayers’ money, the police undermined freedom of expression by weaponizing an environment law to intimidate critics and activists,” he said, adding, “We call on the authorities to withdraw the remaining complaints filed against activists who joined the SONA protest.”

“Thus, it would appear based on the evidence that the only basis of the complainants for instituting the present complaint are the photos lifted from the social media, Facebook.”

Santiago also welcomed the decision as it “is a clear indication that the police should stop using these environmental laws to stifle freedom of expression.”

“This proves that these charges filed against us are mere tactics used to harass, intimidate and silence us who are critical of the government,” he told Bulatlat, saying that he hopes the other pending cases filed against them will also be dismissed in due time.

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