How can the LGBTQIA+ “Love the Philippines” if people in power are hurting us? Shame on Makati police. Pride month isn’t over and I’m not interested in sugarcoating how livid I and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community feel over what looks like the violent arrest of 19-year-old actress Awra Briguela after she got into a brawl outside the Bolt Hole Bar in Poblacion, Makati on June 29 to defend her friend from an alleged harasser.
Based on the report of the Southern Police District (SPD), Briguela allegedly started a fight with the group of complainant Mark Christian Ravana until she was apprehended by police at 5 a.m. She remains in detention for charges of physical injuries, alarm and scandal, disobedience to authority, and direct assault. Her case will be forwarded to the Makati prosecutor’s office for inquest proceedings.
Bahaghari and Metro Manila Pride announced this afternoon, June 30, that they are set to hold a dialogue with Makati Mayor Abigail Binay to negotiate the urgent release and dropping of charges against Awra Briguela and initiate the passage of a city-wide Anti-Discrimination Ordinance.
A transphobic and violent arrest
According to Ravana’s allegations, Briguela and her friends approached him and demanded that he remove his shirt. When he declined, he alleged that Briguela followed him and tore his shirt, which started a heated argument. Upon escalation, he and bouncer Angelo Nino Gulmatico stated that they then sought the assistance of Poblacion Police Substation.
However, content creator Zayla Nakajima refuted the allegations in a now-deleted Facebook post where she claimed that Ravana tried to sexually harass her and Briguela merely acted in her and their group’s defense.
STAND WITH AWRA BRIGUELA! CONDEMN THE PNP’s BRUTALITY AND TRANSPHOBIA IN MAKATI
Briguela allegedly resisted arrest and used profane language while police officers tried to handcuff her. In the viral video of the arrest, you can see the actress surrounded by bouncers and police. One police officer is seen heavily manhandling her even as she hit the ground. You can hear another woman in the crowd repeatedly screaming, “Anong ginagawa niya?” as police continued to make the violent arrest. It’s a frightening abuse of police authority against a trans woman.
In the wake of the video’s circulation, the hashtags #StandWithAwra and #JusticeForAwra trended as celebrities and LGBTQIA+ rights advocates demanded for Briguela’s immediate release and accountability for Makati police’s violent and transphobic arrest.
“Isang malaking katanungan lang ‘yung nasa isip ko at ng maraming tao na kung bakit si Awra lang ang pinosasan at inaresto? Nasaan ‘yung mga ibang lalake na involve sa away?” Riva Quenery said in a post shared after visiting Briguela at the police station and hearing her account of the incident firsthand. “Saludo ako kay Awra at kilala ko siya bilang kaibigan na kaya ka niyang ipaglaban. Pero bakit kung sino pa ang nasa katwiran, siya pa ang ikukulong? Bakit? Gusto nyo bang gawing trophy si Awra?”
Mela Habijan tweeted, “When trans women protect their cis women sisters from harassers (who are men), trans women end up getting all the punches and blows—leaving those abusive men free from harm [and] attempting to reverse the narrative to make them the victims.”
People, usually men, accuse trans women of being threats to cis women.
Yet, when trans women protect their cis women sisters from harassers (who are men), trans women end up getting all the punches and blows — leaving those abusive men free from harm…
“Malinaw na halimbawa ng transphobia at police brutality ang marahas na pagdukot kay Awra,” Bahaghari said in a statement, “We call for the urgent release of Awra and the dropping of all false, trumped-up charges against her. We call for an impartial investigation so that the very people who harassed Awra’s friends in the first place would be brought forward to answer for their actions.”
Metro Manila Pride stated, “Ito ang dahilan kung bakit kailangan nang maipasa ang SOGIE Equality Bill. Kasabay nito, kailangan ring magkaroon ng aksyon sa lebel ng mga LGU-na ipagtanggol at pangalagaan ang ating mga karapatan at kaligtasan, at isulong ang hustisya para sa mga LGBTQIA+ na indibidwal na dinidiskrimina at dinarahas.”
We are ending Pride month with a painful reminder of why we continue to fight for anti-discrimination laws and how no amount of empty solidarity from the government and law enforcement can erase the hard truth that systems in place and the people in power enable and even instigate abuse against the LGBTQIA+.