Filipino actor Awra Briguela was arrested after getting into a brawl at a bar in Poblacion in Makati early June 29.
Awra, who uses she/her pronouns, is facing charges of physical injuries, alarm and scandal, direct assault, and disobedience to a person in authority.
According to the Southern Police District (SPD), Awra and her friends were at a despedida party when she had a disagreement with a man.
The man, recalling the incident to the police, said Awra approached his group, allegedly asking him to take off his shirt.
He refused and left the place, but he said Awra and her group followed him, with Awra allegedly forcibly removing his shirt. That's when things escalated according to the police.
When the police responded, the 19-year-old star reportedly used strong language as they tried to handcuff her. She also reportedly pushed one of them, leading to her arrest.
But Awra's friend, Zayla Nakajima—in a now-deleted post on Facebook and Instagram Story but captured by several netizens and pages—said Awra was only protecting her and their other friend, who were allegedly sexually harassed by a group of men inside the bar.
Zayla said a man tried to touch her bum and squeeze it. He then tried to insert his bare hands inside her bra, as she was wearing a bra top.
"After this harassment against me and my friend Mary Joy," she said, "my dear friend Awra confronted the guy very calmly after the party to defend me and our friend."
That's when the trouble began, Nakajima said, and led to the fistfight as seen in multiple videos circulating online.
Awra's management has yet to issue a statement.
She rose to fame for her role in FPJ's Ang Probinsyano.
Support for Awra
Several groups showed their support for Awra, especially that her arrest happened in no less than the Pride Month.
The University of the Philippines Babaylan, the longest existing LGBTQ+ organization in Asia, in a statement criticized the police for "manhandling" Awra as she was "trying to explain that she and her friends are victims of harassment."
"They filed a case against Awra while they allowed the harassers to go scot-free. They chose not to listen to the side of the women who were harassed," it said. "Undeniably, at their core are misogyny, sexism, transphobia and homophobia!"
UP Babaylan urged authorities to "speedily address and steer this blatant case of misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia into justice."
Nonprofit Bahaghari called Awra's arrest as an example of "transphobia" and "police brutality."
"We call for the urgent release of Awra and the dropping of all false, trumped-up charges against her," it said in a statement, as it shared a copy of the viral video of the brawl. "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."
LGBTQ+ activist Mela Franco Habijan noted how transwomen end up getting "all the punches and blows" when they're just trying to protect their ciswomen sisters from men harassers. This, then, leaves abusive men "free from harm, attempting to reverse the narrative to make them the victims."
"WE DEMAND JUSTICE FOR AWRA!" Habijan said in a Facebook post. "We appeal to Makati PNP, SERVE REAL JUSTICE!"