KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
“We are holding the Quezon City local government and the Philippine National Police accountable for the human rights violations committed against the residents of San Roque during the illegal demolition at the North Triangle, Quezon City,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
“The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program pushes the policy of widespread demolitions of communities to ‘provide’ space for big business interests. Ultimately, the Aquino government has a bigger part of the blame because the PPP is its core program,” Palabay added.
“The residents of Sitio San Roque are not dirt on a floor that the government can easily sweep off. The people who lost their homes were already deprived by the government’s failure to provide decent housing programs. Now, they have become victims of human rights violations for rightfully asserting their rights to their homes and properties,” Palabay said. “We see no justification for the use of such force,” Palabay added.
Based on initial facts gathered by the Karapatan paralegal team, the Quezon City police, members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, and other members of demolition teams who were not in uniform violated the following:
Physical Assault and injuries
At least 11 children, all below the age of five, were hurt because of the use of tear gas during the demolition. A two-month old infant was rushed to the Veteran’s Hospital Memorial Medical Center. Also, there were at least six elderly who were hurt due to the tear gas.
The demolition team is also ascountable for beating up protestors who were trying to protect their houses from being torn down.
Violation of domicile
There were a number of reports that demolition teams forcibly entered the houses in Sitio San Roque, and threatened, harassed, and intimidated its residents. SWAT members, usually in two’s, sprayed tear gas inside the homes to force people out. They also pointed their guns at the residents threatening to shoot them if they don’t get out of their houses. Some of the residents were handcuffed as they were being dragged out of their homes.
Illegal Arrest and Detention
There were 11 individuals arrested during the incident, two of them minors. They are currently detained at Camp Caringal facing charges of malicious mischief. Those arrested and detained are Donald Yongzon, Gilbert Desalva, Harley Largo, Carlito Estapia, Jr., Jhoross Roman, Rodolfo Pisante, Jay-ar Reyes, Ricky Ho, Rosalino Castro. The minors are staying at the Molave Youth Centre, a juvenile jail. They may face the same charges if determined that they are of “age of discernment” by the social worker of the said centre.
As of 31 December 2013, Karapatan documented 13,528 victims of demolitions and forced eviction under the BS Aquino regime. There are 13 cases of extra-judicial killings related to urban poor struggles. “The trend is clear. This administration is sweeping off the urban poor communities to accommodate big businesses in the Metro. It will use any kind of force to quell people’s assertions or opposition,” Palabay said.
While the Quezon City officials claim that the demolition was done for the road-widening project of the Department of Public Works and Highway, it is common knowledge among residents that the North Triangle is targeted to be Quezon City’s Central Business District. Ayala-owned condominium buildings are planned to be built in Sitio San Roque. The demolished area is now fenced off with hog wires and Ayala guards visibly roam the site.
“Palayas nang palayas itong si BS Aquino. Kung siya kaya ang palayasin ng taumbayan? (BS Aquino keeps on displacing the people. What if the people get back and displace him from his position),” Palabay ended.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146