By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — An urban poor leader assailed the harassment of police officers against their ongoing community kitchen in Sitio San Roque, an urban poor community in Quezon City today, April 6.
Elements of Quezon City Police District station 2 arrived in the community and removed their placards calling for government aid. Among those written in their placards were: #TulongHindiKulong and #SolusyongMedikalHindiMilitar.
“They threatened to stop our community kitchen if we will continue with the protests and placards. Will these police officers feed us?” said Estrelieta Bagasbas, a community leader in Sitio San Roque and one of Kadamay leaders, told Bulatlat in a phone interview.
Dubbed as Kusinang Bayan or community kitchen, the local chapter of Kadamay in Sitio San Roque, along with their supporters, has been providing warm meals to their neighbors. This effort is now on its third day.
In an earlier interview, Bagasbas explained that supporters usually drop off ingredients to their community, which they then distribute to at least 10 community kitchens within Sitio San Roque. These kitchens are manned by other grassroots organizations in the community, allowing them to provide warm meals to at least 1,000 families who lost their sources of income following the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine, one of the government approach to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Despite the harassment, Bagasbas said the community kitchen continued its operations today, where they served pancit bihon and fried fish. Church groups such as the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the Task Force on Urban Conscientization of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines dropped off sacks of rice for the community kitchen today.
Sitio San Roque is among the urban poor communities in Metro Manila. Pocket demolitions, usually in the guise of road expansions, began in 2010. Residents have received relocation offers, but many have rejected as these are usually in far-flung communities where sources of livelihoods are scarce.
“While they besmirch our names, we continue to help our fellow poor. We may not have much, but we have supporters who have been extending assistance,” Bagasbas said, “Nairaraos namin ang pang-araw-araw na tulong.”
Donations for the Kusinang Bayan may be coursed through the Facebook Page of Save San Roque.