MANILA, Philippines—Alliance of Concerned Teachers representative and Assistant Minority Leader France Castro condemned the violent dispersal and arrests of around 20 urban poor community residents during a protest on Wednesday in Sitio San Roque in Brgy. Bagong Pag-Asa in Quezon City.
According to ACT, those arrested were appealing relief and food packs from their local government, with claims that they haven’t received such help.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the unconscionable and violent dispersal and arrest of urban poor community residents who were just demanding urgent action from the government amid this dire health and economic crisis,” said Castro in a statement.
Castro also demanded the fast-tracking of the Emergency Subsidy Program and other social amelioration measures for the hardest-hit families of the enhanced community quarantine imposed in Luzon to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“It is not a crime to demand for aid from the government during this crisis. On the other hand, It is the responsibility of the Duterte administration to provide socio-economic relief to the hardest-hit families during the enhanced community quarantine where work and transportation are suspended.”
Both houses of Congress on March 25 granted President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to combat the effects of COVID-19 in the Philippines and that included a fund of P275-billion
A week has passed since but an official breakdown has yet to be released.
“Many communities like San Roque have yet to receive food packs and other social amelioration measures from the government which prompted them to protest and demand for their rights,” said Castro.
“The Duterte administration has been slow to react to the basic needs of the citizens who need help to survive this enhanced community quarantine. Instead of handing out help, the administration resorted to arrest and violence.”
Castro warned that the San Roque incident could be a pretext to extend the quarantine or worse, the declaration of martial law.
“The Duterte administration only has itself to blame for the worry, uncertainty, and anger of the people because it has failed to implement emergency actions even after giving itself emergency powers.”