Updated April 3, 7:56 p.m.
“The San Roque 21 were hungry Filipinos driven to desperation by the lack of government assistance, and yet they were met by an iron fist. Theirs is a no-win situation; their choice was either to die from hunger or to die from COVID-19, whichever way, to die undignified.”
By EMILY VITAL
MANILA — As formal charges have been filed against 21 residents of sitio San Roque in Quezon City, urban poor group Kadamay condemned what it called as “punishment against the poor.”
The 21 were arrested April 1 while queuing up for assistance outside their community. Since the imposition of the Metro Manila-wide lockdown until the time of the arrest, residents of San Roque did not receive any help from the national and local government.
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“Bullet is not the food for the hungry, and prison is not the medicine for the sick,” Kadamay said in a statement in Filipino.
The 21 have been charged with violation of the public assembly law; non-cooperation under Republic Act 11332; disobedience of a lawful order or violation of Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code; spreading of false information under the Republic Act 11469 or Bayanihan to Heal as One Act; and, impeding access to roads also under RA 11469.
The NUPL said the charges were filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City. The courts have closed for the week and thus they will only entertain processing of bail and release on Monday. The San Roque 21 will be spending the weekend in jail, the NUPL said.
The NUPL said each detainee has to post bail amounting to P15,000. In sum, at least 330,000 is needed to bail out the San Roque 21 on Monday.
“We cannot fathom how this government can treat the people with great callousness, in the midst of the crisis,” the NUPL said in a statement. “The San Roque 21 were hungry Filipinos driven to desperation by the lack of government assistance, and yet they were met by an iron fist. Theirs is a no-win situation; their choice was either to die from hunger or to die from COVID-19, whichever way, to die undignified.”
Kadamay criticized the “heartless government that holds back the aid it promised to the people.”
The NUPL vowed to “push back against injustice, tyranny, and wrong governance.”