39 face raps for Pasig barricade riot
“Nadamay (merely implicated)”, not all Kadamay.
This was the complaint of some of the people who were arrested on Thursday after violence erupted between the police and residents who put up a barricade against the impending demolition of their riverbank homes in Pasig City.
The protest was led by residents organized by the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay).
After failed negotiations that lasted for seven hours, antiriot police dismantled the barricade on Victorio Ignacio Boulevard heading to East Bank Road in Barangay Santa Lucia, rounding up and detaining 41 people (not just 29, as earlier reported).
Of those arrested, 10 were minors, including two children aged 12 and 13.
On Friday, 39 people underwent inquest proceedings in the Pasig City Prosecutor’s Office, including eight teenagers. They faced charges of illegal assembly, direct assault and resisting arrest.
But most of those arrested claimed that they were not part of the protest and yet they were seized by the police and the so-called “chocolate boys”, or the brown-uniformed peace and order personnel from the city government.
Gerardo Matias, a 51-year-old construction foreman, said he was merely passing through the area when the police suddenly grabbed and pinned him to the ground.
An Inquirer photo showed Matias being held down apparently by three Chocolate Boys as a police officer stepped on his face, keeping it pressed against the pavement.
“I was on my way home to Cainta, when I passed by the barricade and then they grabbed me,” Matias told the Inquirer in an interview.
“I was holding on to my wallet to show them my ID and prove that I was not a resident there, and I did not know what the protest was all about,” he said as he showed his wounds on his head and his right knee. “But the police won’t listen.”
MJ, a nurse who refused to disclose her full name out of fear, said her 51-year-old mother and two sisters aged 21 and 20 were also among those arrested.
She said the three women were just watching the commotion from their house when they were suddenly taken to the police vehicle.
“My mother and two sisters have no criminal records,” she said as she wept. “Now my younger sister is so traumatized by the thought that they have to spend time in jail.”
Those arrested are expected to stay behind bars for a few more nights until next week, when the prosecutor’s office issues a resolution on their case.
Kristina Conti of the National Union of Peoples’ Laywers, who served as their legal counsel, decried the violence and the charges filed against the group.
“This case and several others before this demonstrate the police’s exaggerated sense of self and power,” she said. “Even if there had been a rally, what the police did was an excessive show of power and force.”
Sought for comment, Chief Supt. Romulo Sapitula, Eastern Police District director, said his men would not have arrested anyone who was not involved in the barricade.
“[For several hours,] police had been talking to them to give way on the road they blocked, but they refused,” he said. “They were not hurt; in fact, we only used water. Who threw the Molotovs, the bottles?”
Sapitula stressed: “It was a violent attack on the police.”
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