“This decision affirms that the government has fundamental shortcomings in meeting the basic needs of citizens amid lockdowns.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – A Quezon City court dismissed the cases against 21 residents of sitio San Roque, North Triangle in Quezon City who protested amid strict lockdown in Metro Manila in April 2020.
Presiding Judge John Boomsri Sy Rodolfo of QC Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 38 said in his decision that they “were acting within their rights when they went outside of their respective residences to plea for food.”
Read: Arrests in QC reveal lack of gov’t support to lockdown-affected residents
“Therefore, the police officers, at the time they confronted the accused and under the circumstances established in this case, cannot compel the latter to obey their directive to go home,” the decision read.
Rodolfo granted the residents’ objection to the case, citing an insufficiency of evidence and ordered to return the P15,000 ($284) cash bond paid each by the accused.
In a statement, urban poor group Kadamay said that the dismissal of the cases against San Roque 21 is justice not only for them but for all those whose rights were suppressed by what they described as a “fascist state.”
“This decision affirms that the government has fundamental shortcomings in meeting the basic needs of citizens amid lockdowns,” the group said in a statement.
Nagkaroon ng kaunting salu-salo ngayong gabi ang #SanRoque21 kasama ang mga magigiting na abugado ng bayan upang ipagdiwang ang pagbasura ng kanilang kaso at pagkilala ng korte sa kanilang karapatan na magprotesta sa gitna ng kagutuman!#StandWithThePoor#DevelopmentForAll pic.twitter.com/6RbtV8Vdlx
— Kadamay San Roque (@KadamaySanRoque) June 7, 2022
The group thanked all those who supported and extended help to the community and those who were charged including the lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and Leflegis Legal Services, celebrities Jodi Sta Maria, Kakie Pangilinan, Ria Atayde, Enchong Dee, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Dean Tony La Viña and many others.
The NUPL and Leflegis also welcomed the decision of the court and said that they share this triumph with the many others who helped and empathized.
Dalawang taon makalipas ang mga malawakang pag-aresto noong kasagsagan ng pandemya, naibasura na sa wakas ang mga kaso laban sa San Roque 21. Ang pagbasura ng gawa-gawang mga kaso laban sa mga residenteng naghihintay lamang ng ayuda sa gitna ng mga lockdown ay isang tagumpay…+ pic.twitter.com/swG5I8tGpL
— Kristina Conti (@chronikrissys) June 7, 2022
“Political repression always thrives on fear and sheer might. But with the law in our favor, the people should always have the right to reason and resist. The decision by the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 38 gives us faith in the courts to correct grave inequities,” the group said in a joint statement.
“Let this case not be remembered for the inhumanity of the Duterte administration’s grossly disproportionate and incongruent response to a public health problem; let it stand testament to the enduring spirit of bayanihan in each one of us,” they added.
Read: ‘Heartless’ | Groups decry charges against QC urban poor
Meanwhile, Kadamay vowed to continue to protect and assert the people’s right to air their grievances and demand accountability from the government.
“This victory is a manifestation that in the eyes of the law, the fascist state can never trample on the rights of the toiling masses,” the group said.
“Let us continue to protect and to assert our right in expressing our grievances and in calling for accountability from a negligent government,” it said, adding that this victory is a manifestation that in the eyes of the law a fascist state could not step on the rights of the working people. (RTS,RVO)