By Alvin James Magno
Eighteen residents of Brgy. Central, Quezon City and COVID-19 relief volunteers were harassed and arrested by the Phippine National Police (PNP) while conducting a community feeding program on May 1 during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
According to Kabataan Partylist (KPL), 15 residents and drivers called to help when authorities stormed the Kusinang Kabataan—a joint effort made by Cure COVID and Tulong Kabataan—as they were accused of participating in an event commemorating the International Labor Day.
In response, four volunteers, in which the three of them are students of University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, came into rescue in the barangay hall to explain. However, civilian-clothed policemen brought the residents and volunteers to Camp Karingal because of the found paraphernalia calling for mass testing and swift relief subsidy by the government.
Several youth groups strongly condemned the actions made by the state forces, stating that the residents and volunteers did not commit any illegal activities and they are just helping one another to survive the hunger made by the lockdown.
“Mariing kinukundena ang harassment at paghuli ng kapulisan sa mga residente at volunteer sa Barangay Central, Quezon City ngayong Mayo Uno, bunsod ng paglulunsad ng Kusinang Kabataan sa inistyatiba ng Cure COVID at Tulong Kabataan bilang ayuda sa mga mamamayan sa ilalim ng military lockdown ng rehimeng Duterte,” Anakbayan declared.
KPL also defended the initiative of Cure COVID and Tulong Kabataan to feed the community, as the said program solves the slow response and inadequate efforts of the government.
“Ilang linggo nang ginagawa ang mga ito upang magbigay ng kaunting ayuda sa mamamayan, lalo na at mabagal at hindi sapat ang ayudang ipinapamahagi ng pamahalaan.” the party-list said.
Meanwhile, the UP Diliman University Student Council (USC) said that the Duterte administration puts forward military solutions first, instead of helping the marginalized sectors of the community.
“Imbis na makiisa sa inisyatiba ng mamamayan, pinili ng pwersang estadong tumugon sa krisis gamit ang militaristikong oryentasyon… Sa katagalan ng Enhanced Community Quarantine, malinaw na mas binibigyang primarya ng administrasyong Duterte ang pamamasista sa masang nangangailangan at naghihirap.” UP Diliman USC claimed.
Various incidents of harassment and detainment of relief volunteers were recorded during the span of the ECQ — 42 were arrested in Iloilo, 10 in Marikina, and 2 in Rizal.
The council also called out the Quezon City (QC) government to release the 18 individuals immediately and urged QC Mayor Joy Belmonte to forward solutions addressing health and relief concerns.
Furthermore, KPL reiterated that criticizing the government to act swiftly amid the public health crisis is not a crime, and indeed a right.
“Hindi krimen ang pangangalampag sa pamahalaan upang kagyat na tugunan ang mga pangangailangang pangkalusugan at kabuhayan ng mamamayan!” the youth partylist stated. [P]
Photo from Kabataan Partylist Facebook page