Sep 28, 2010

Know your rights: What the police can or cannot do


The recent raid at Queeriosity Palace (more info) reminded me of this extremely useful and informative series of articles written by a law student about your rights and about proper police procedure when the latter conducts raids, arrests, detentions, and invitations for questioning. You can check out the original article series’ index which I have reproduced below:

  1. Part 1 - civil and political rights basics
  2. Part 2 - when the cops come knocking at the door
  3. Part 3 - when the cops bring a search warrant to your door
  4. Part 4 - what to do during a raid by the police
  5. Part 5 - when being arrested
  6. Part 6 - on being "invited for questioning"
  7. Part 7 - a discussion on practical Miranda rights
  8. Part 8 - some interrogation techniques used by police
  9. Part 9 - when brought to the police station after being arrested
  10. Part 10 - in detention and awaiting trial

PLU or not, I highly recommend that everyone read this series of articles.

The blogger/law student was prompted to write this series in response to the raid conducted by NBI against the authors of the notorious Flesh Asia Daily blog in the wake of the Hayden Kho–Katrina Halili video sex scandal. While the circumstances between the Flesh Asia Daily and Queeriosity raids are different, I think that the articles apply perfectly to the QP incident. Almost all of the posts in the series touches on the recent raid and everything from the time the police came barging into Queeriosity until the time everybody was released can be scrutinized for procedural police error. (Well, the fact that extortion seems to be the motive for the raid does not help the Pasay City Police either.)

Discreet PLUs are particularly easy prey since aside from the fact that most people do not know their rights and do not know the proper police procedure, discreet PLUs are scared of being outed, and raids are some of the most attention-grabbing events there are. Thus, police bank on this observation to extort money from PLUs who would rather pay than risk getting exposed.

This is sad because if we as a community let ourselves be intimidated this way, then human rights take a back seat and corruption remains unabated. Personally, I think that the indignity of paying an extortion fee outweighs any potential shame I may have if I were outed as a gay man. So if I were in a similar situation, I would likely resist the police to the legal extent possible. But, I do understand the feelings of some people who would rather pay. If I were CC, who’s the CEO of a corporation, shelling out 1,000 pesos to retain my closet would be small change.

Going back to the article series, it must be however said that the articles do not constitute legal advice. (This is the same legal disclaimer stated by the law student.) In case of doubt, you should contact a real lawyer. However, I think that the series is mostly accurate since the law student had been contacted by the police hierarchy who were most displeased that this sort of information was made public. (The PNP’s reaction is quite weird since the PNP is mandated by law to make public their operations manual, which they haven’t done so). The police, however, cannot do anything about it.

This article series definitely deserves more audience so I’m doing my part in helping to spread it. If you find it enlightening, I suggest that you also spread the word by blogging or tweeting the series. More PLUs and Filipinos could definitely use this information.

Sep 26, 2010

More info on the Sep 24 raid at QP


As I blogged yesterday, I got several comments saying that Queeriosity Palace got raided for the second time. To clarify, QP has been under new management since early 2009 and this is the first time the bathhouse got raided since that time. Since I posted that article, I got several more comments and a couple more accounts of the raid from two of the victims.

Update: TLF Share, whose representative was at the precinct, has released a report on the raid.

I asked around and a source told me that the macho dancing show was already long done before the raid happened and that the dancers were not among those detained by the Pasay City Police. The GMANews.TV report saying that 10 “alleged male dancers” were arrested is therefore wrong and it was apparently based on the police logbook. This logbook entry was supposedly written by the police there to justify the raid.

Based on a source, it was obvious from the start that the police conducted the raid simply to extort money from the establishment and the patrons. For one thing, the Pasay City Police already knew what Queeriosity Palace is from the first raid. If the establishment is illegal, why do the raid only now and not before? Second, since the show was already long done when the police entered, there was no way they could justify the human trafficking charge since nothing that could conceivably be tied to prostitution can be seen at that time. Third, based on the accounts of the commenters and my source, the police were asking hundreds of thousands of pesos from the manager of QP and that the police took the cashier’s box and confiscated wallets and other valuables, even breaking the safety deposit boxes in the bathhouse where these were kept. Money is simply what these bastard police were after!

According to my source, among those who tried to help secure the release of the patrons were people from TLF Share Collective and Akbayan. A representative from Akbayan managed to tweet about the raid and their efforts to help the PLUs that night. Shown below are some of the tweets:

1:37 am: Another gay establishment got raided and we're in need of lawyers. If you're still up and willing to do pro-bono work, we need you. DM me.

4:06 am: 105 MSM got arrested. Police says they'll be charged for violating the anti-trafficking law.

7:51 am: was told by the police earlier, o, Akbayan kayo, e bakit kayo pumapasok sa kalaswaan. Di ba bawal yung chukchakan ng pareho lalaki?

8:01 am: The police took the money or the cellphones of the clients.They left nothing,not even fare money.Some asked for coins so they can go home.

The third tweet above and my source tells me that the police questioned those who were trying to help why they tolerated men having sex with other men and saying that it was “immoral” and “illegal.” (COMELEC, is that you?) Are the inept Pasay City Police trying to deflect the blame for their unjustified detention of PLUs? Have they even read the brilliant skewering done by the Supreme Court in proving that being gay and having gay sex is not illegal in this country?

As for the silence from the bathhouse management, I’ve been told that they could not release a full statement now since they are preparing various legal remedies with the help of some powerful people and that they do not want to preempt things. I hope that what they are doing will finally put a stop these stupid raids.

Paging President Aquino! You won on a campaign promise of ridding the government of corruption. Well, here’s a clear case of police extortion that happened in your backyard. Do you have the political will to prevent these kinds of things under your watch?

Sep 25, 2010

Queeriosity Palace raided again!


It had been a busy Friday for me so it was only now that I got to read comments on this blog saying that Queeriosity Palace was raided by Pasay police yet again. The raid apparently happened early Friday morning, September 24, during the monthly Full Moon Party of the said bathhouse. Since September celebrants get in for free and and there is a macho dancing show that night, there would definitely be plenty of patrons inside the establishment. The police allegedly entered the place between 1 and 2 a.m., rounded up everyone—dancers, staff, clients, and the manager—and brought them all to the precinct. The supposed charge was a violation of a city ordinance against male prostitution.

Update: I’ve posted more information I learned regarding the raid.

Update 2: TLF Share, whose representative was at the precinct, has released a report on the raid.

GMANews.TV has posted an article about the raid Friday afternoon. Here is an excerpt:

Authorities arrested 10 men during a raid of a club in Pasay City before dawn Friday, a local police official said.

PO2 Fernildo de Castro told GMANews.TV that the 10 men were allegedly male dancers of the "Queeriosity Palace Co." club along F. B. Harrison Street.

Authorities confiscated several items from the club including a box filled with lubricants, condoms, and pornographic digital versatile discs (DVDs).

The first comment about the event on my blog came Friday morning at almost 8 a.m., presumably after the anonymous commenter came home from the precinct. He said, “for the second time...Queeriosity Palace was raid again last night...truly embarassing and a night of shame...”

A more extensive comment came a few hours later, telling us the sad story:

it was again raid this morning September 24, 2010 on the same nakaka-inis lang naman kasi yung scenario was i think the same reason why it was raid the first time. kung alam nyo lang yung mga nararamdaman namin nun.. at 1AM Sep. 24 biglang me pumasok na police officer tapos sabi raid pinasok isa isa yung mga cabin, pinagbihis yung mga tao at dinamppot sakay ng mga jeep papunta sa presinto, pagdating dun pinapila kami tapos pinasulat mga pangalan namin para daw we were 105 customers na andun. then si allan the supervisor i believe ng Q was there with a certain friend negotaiting.. the amount was i heard is around 300K pero tinawaran down to 250K pero hanggang 200K alng daw ang tinatawad nila allan.. hanggang sa abutin kami ng pagsikat ng araw..dali dali kami pinapasok sa loob ng presinto at dun kung ano ano na narinig namin... and then there was this police men na kupal talaga pagdating sa pera... sa halagang 1K to 2K per person makaka-alis ka na. luckily i have enough money to save myself, papano naman yung mga customer na sakto lang ang perang dala? ano mangyayari sa kanila.. i mean it should had been avoided na umabot kami sa puntong iyon kung ibinigay lang ng management ng Q yung amount na hinihingi nila.. sa panahong ito wala ng di kayang tumbasan ng pera maliit man o malaki... at dun sa mga pulis na kotong.. makatulong sana sa inyo yung perang nakuha nyo mula sa amin. naway mabusog kayo at swertehin sa buhay...

The alleged extortion makes me so angry. It appears that the violation is just a pretext for siphoning off money from the scared patrons.

It must be recalled that QP got raided back in 2008 soon after the bathhouse started operating. Based on what I’ve been told about the real reason behind the first raid (see my post last year under the section “The true story behind the raid”) and the GMANews.TV article I linked above, the motivation behind these two raids are different contrary to what the commented said.

What I find interesting is that the legal basis for this second raid is a supposed local city ordinance. This is quite novel compared to the usual charges citing either Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code or the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, both national laws and not mere city ordinances.

One sad thing is that the PLUs who were subjected to this shameful episode were helpless against the law enforcement officers. I guess we really need to educate people about their rights. Then again, knowing your rights and actually doing anything about it when faced with an actual raid are two different things. Even if you knew the right thing to do and how to fight back, I think most discreet PLUs would rather shell out money rather than have their secret exposed to their colleagues, friends, and family. Money can be (easily) replaced but your reputation cannot. :-(

This raid at Queeriosity, and two recent raids at rundown cinemas makes me think that the “Raid Season” that Lex said is actually true. It’s a sad, sad week for the local PLU community.

Sep 10, 2010

Discreetionary: borta


borta [BORE·ta] noun 1. a muscular man. adjective 2. muscular.

I profess to not knowing much about this word and have never used it. But, I’ve encountered this enough times to be curious and to do some research. As far as I can tell, those definitions above are it. It may also mean someone who has an attractive or a nicely built body but usually in the context of being muscular or gym-fit.

As an example of usage, Fahrenheit, the bathhouse, occasionally has this special promo night for PLUs who go to the gym. If you show to the registration your gym card, you get a discounted entrance fee of 120 pesos instead of the usual 180+ pesos. This special promo was called the Borta Night.

Anyway, I definitely am very attracted to borta guys. Especially those with really nice arms. :-)