Now free of charges, Sitio San Roque residents still face uncertainties

Their unlawful arrest brought to mind how while the rest of the world is being plagued by a storm that is the COVID-19, not everyone is able to ride the tides with sturdy boats.

By LIZST ABELLO and DANIEL ASIDO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – It has been more than a week since the Gallamoza couple received the happy news that a Quezon City court dismissed the charges against them.

Cesar Gallamoza was among the residents of Sitio San Roque, an urban poor community in Quezon City, who were arrested and charged two years ago along with 20 others over violations of quarantine protocols for holding a protest action to press for just aid.

The Quezon City court favored the San Roque 21, saying that they “were acting within their rights when they went outside of their respective residences to plea for food” and that under the circumstances that they were in, police officers cannot compel them to obey their directive to go home.

Read: Plea for food not a crime, court rules in favor of QC residents
Read: #UndoingDuterte | Food remains out of reach for the poor

Their unlawful arrest brought to mind how while the rest of the world is being plagued by a storm that is the COVID-19, not everyone is able to ride the tides with sturdy boats. This engaged several Filipino personalities like actors and social media influencers.

“We went outside (to join the protest) because aid could hardly reach us since our house sits in the middle of the community,” Chara, 62, told Bulatlat in a phone interview.

Chara was also among those who joined the protest but was able to resist arrest as she struggled to get free.

The last two years

But for the last two years, with the COVID-19 restrictions slowly easing, life has yet to return back to normal for the urban poor couple.

Their daughter now provides mainly for them as Chara has since stopped doing laundry as a living. Cesar, on the other hand, has also ceased working as an “extra” in local television shows.

It does not help that with their reduced income, the prices of food and other essentials have also increased.

Cesar, too, was down with flu at the time of the interview.

Red-tagging, threats of demolition persist

For pushing for their rights, Chara said she and her husband were subjected to red-tagging.

“We were called NPA members,” she said, referring to the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Chara said they no longer cared, adding that she and her neighbors were resolved to push for their right to plea for food.

They, too, continue to face threats of demolition.

Kadamay, an urban poor group, said their “victory is a manifestation that in the eyes of the law, the fascist state can never trample on the rights of the toiling masses.” (JJE, RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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