May 13, 2009

The raid at Sanctum (part 3)

To conclude this series on the Sanctum raid (see the first part and the second part) let’s revisit a couple of posts I did one year ago. I know that these posts are not nearly as interesting as my cruising articles, but I consider spreading vital information quite important. If this means that this will be a yearly topic, then so be it.

The legality of raids

In this article, I discussed two of the three legal provisions behind all of the raids conducted against PLUs and the establishments that cater to us. These three provisions are:

  • Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code or the provision against "immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows"
  • Article 202 of the same Code, also known as the Anti-vagrancy Law
  • Republic Act No. 9208 otherwise known as the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003

The 2003 raid at Alta Theater in Cubao (instigated by ABS-CBN), the 2004 raid at Bath bar in Malate, and the 2008 raids on Queeriosity Palace, Adonis, and Sanctum (instigated by GMA) all stem from these three laws. I concluded in that article of mine that these laws are give law enforcers ample ammunition to conduct raids and harass PLUs due to unclear or too broad definitions (obscenity, pornography, indecency, etc.).

Know your PLU rights!

Fortunately for us, we can fight back! Ang Ladlad has this Pink Card program where they distribute pink cards containing succinct info that you can use to at least rebuff or slow down the efforts of law enforcers. They are able to prey on gay and bisexual men because of the lack of awareness, intimidation, and the threat of exposure. Well, exposure we can do little against, but we can at least be aware and not be intimidated, right?

So last May 2008, Ang Ladlad held a seminar called “Know Your Rights!” where they educated attendees about their rights should they be harassed by law enforcers and talked about the Pink Card.

When I promoted Ang Ladlad’s event, little did I know that the triggering incident that led to the need to conduct the seminar was the Sanctum raid (and partly by the Queeriosity raid too). Being the discreet guy that I am, I did not attend this seminar. (Well, it was also far from where I stay. Hehehe.) Fortunately, Lobster-Tony volunteered to attend in behalf of all of us :-) and he blogged about it. I encourage you read his post since it is chock full of information that can help you in case you’re caught in a tight spot.

Remember, the police and NBI are able to do this simply because they think we are easy prey. We shouldn’t continue to give them that impression and equipping ourselves with knowledge is simply the best defense we can have.


lobster-tony wrote on May 14, 2009 at 10:22 AM:

I was actually in a discussion for the past months (the most recent was just yesterday) with the QCPD in an ongoing battle to try to find a way for the Police and the establishments that cater to gay men to work together rather than against each other. As you may well assume, it is pretty tough but we are at least making small steps. According to QCPD they are now just using RA 9208 to charge people. We are also working on a way, with the help of the QC city health, to avoid harassments by the LGUs (local government unites).

Vince wrote on May 14, 2009 at 9:19 PM:

Tony, really? The QCPD is only now using RA 9208? Anyway, I'm glad to hear that there's some progress being made (at least in QC). What about Pasay? :-)

lobster-tony wrote on May 15, 2009 at 1:44 PM:

Yes, they have said that they have stopped using the vagrancy and prostitution laws to 'rescue' people.

I'm working my way through the Pasay red tape as of the moment. Took me a few months (about 6 in fact), to worm my way into QC's LGUs. Pasay though is less harsh than QC's authorities and in fact is more forward with their ordinances, especially in terms of HIV/STD/AIDS prevention. At the least preliminary discussions have started.

It won't be long until we see every 'entertainment' establishments have a condom dispenser, with the help of DOH and local city health governments of course. :D

lobster-tony wrote on May 15, 2009 at 1:57 PM:

I think what people don't understand is that bathhouses and massage centers, per se, are LEGAL. There are no illegal activities that you can be charged with given the following conditions: (1) there are no illegal drugs involved (2) you have all the permits required of you by the city to run a business (including taxes). As you may well surmise, the second condition is where they lack, simply because they think we are engaging in illegal activities and therefore what is the point in getting permits.

It's a shame that most people I talk to, think it is illegal. Even the authorities and more sadly, gay men themselves because it doesn't conform to what the majority think is right.

We don't need to hide in the shadows or go underground. We are a productive community and we deserve our day in the sun as much as anyone else. I am saddened that it is such a hard fight to make people, even our own, understand this simple fact.

Smadraji wrote on May 21, 2009 at 6:21 PM:
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.