Photo by Kathy Yamzon
MANILA, Philippines – Police have arrested 41 members of urban poor group Kadamay after they staged a protest against an impending demolition in the Manggahan Floodway in Pasig City.
Members of the Eastern Police District (EPD) arrested the Kadamay members, including 14 women and 10 minors, on Thursday, August 31 over charges of illegal assembly and direct assault ater the reported violent dispersal of the protest.
At least 30 people were hurt during the dispersal.
Kadamay members blocked the East Bank Road on Thursday to protest the planned demolition. They refused to leave unless Pasig City Mayor Robert Eusebio met with them, prompting their dispersal.
Human rights group Karapatan claimed that the EPD went around the area in Barangay Sta Lucia to look for Kadamay members as part of “clearing operations.”
“It wasn't enough that they violently dispersed the legitimate protest action of the community members and arrested them for defending their right to decent housing; they had to do a TokHang-style search of Kadamay members in the said community,” Karapatan said in a statement.
“We call on the Philippine National Police to stop harassing residents in Barangay Sta Lucia, Pasig. We also call for the immediate release of the 41 individuals currently detained at the Pasig Police Station,” it added.
Rappler asked the EPD to comment on Karapatan's claim but authorities have yet to respond as of posting.
Arrested protesters said that their houses were set for demolition but no suitable relocation was planned for them. Housing sites in Calauan, Laguna, were offered to them but they complained of the insufficient livelihood opportunities there and the high amortization rates.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier promised a "no demolition without relocation" policy under his watch.
Kadamay argued that the Manggahan Floodway is on a public land declared for the residents’ use. In 2009, however, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued a proclamation declaring the land for commercial use.
Residents are now calling on Duterte to issue a proclamation awarding them the land they have been living in for over 40 years. – Rappler.com