MANILA, Philippines – Cops from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) stormed community kitchens in Sitio San Roque on Monday, April 6, to take down protest posters demanding for food and mass testing amid the coronavirus lockdown.
"There were around 15 cops who stormed two kitchens to tear down posted placards for help," the Save San Roque alliance said in a statement on Monday.
Under the community lockdown, mass gatherings like conventional protests are prohibited, but the Sitio San Roque residents turned creative and stuck up protest placards in their community kitchens while maintaining physical distance.
However, cops still tore the posters down.
In a phone interview with Rappler, QCPD Station 2 chief Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo Soriano said even the community kitchens are banned under the enhanced community quarantine. The guidelines, however, do not spell out regulation of community relief efforts.
"Sa ganitong panahon, kailangan pa ba yun (During these times do we even need that)?" Soriano said.
WATCH: A Sitio San Roque, Quezon City resident recounts witnessing cops storm their community kitchens to take down their protest posters. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/hWQK7L2uCf — Rambo Talabong (@ramboreports) April 6, 2020
The community kitchens inside Sitio San Roque were organized by residents to respond to the social crisis under the coronavirus lockdown, which has caused millions of Filipinos to go jobless. (READ: 'Walang-wala na': Poor Filipinos fear death from hunger more than coronavirus)
Most residents in Sitio San Roque worked in construction and manufacturing, and have not been earning since the lockdown. Its residents held a protest on April 1, also demanding for help from the government, leading to the arrest of 21 of them for holding a mass gathering under quarantine.
"Ang ginawa po ng mga pulis pinunit nila at sabay umalis. Sana hindi ganoon ang ginawa nila kasi pagkain lang po ang niluluto namin, wala pong masama doon (The cops tore them down and left. They shouldn't have done that because we were just cooking our food, there's nothing wrong with that)," said one Sitio San Roque video interview sent to Rappler.
President Rodrigo Duterte has promised help through local government units and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, but their aid, according to families in poor communities, are either too little or too late. Many have not received any aid. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.