Sampaloc ‘demolition’ stirs Karapatan-MPD row hours before hard lockdown
MANILA, Philippines – A rights group has described the supposed police-led demolition operation in Sampaloc, Manila as “outrageous” – but the city police chief said that they were merely rescuing street dwellers in the area.
According to Karapatan, makeshift houses of over 78 families in Barangay 432 of Manila were demolished on Thursday, supposedly to create a rapid testing facility for possible COVID-19 patients.
Sampaloc will be under “hard lockdown” at 8 p.m. Thursday. The move was made because of the high concentration of coronavirus infected patients in the district.
“The demolition of the makeshift shelters of the residents of Maisan in Sampaloc, Manila at a time when anyone is at risk of getting infected of the fast-spreading and lethal coronavirus disease is truly outrageous,” Karapatan deputy secretary-general Roneo Clamor said in a statement.
“This reveals to us that the government remains deaf to the people’s legitimate demands for genuine and mass-oriented solutions to this pandemic,” he added.
However, Manila Police District (MPD) chief Brig. Gen. Rolando Miranda refuted Karapatan’s claims, saying that they only rescued the street dwellers and relocated them to another, safer area amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miranda also chided Karapatan for making it appear that the government is always “abusive.” He assured that the street dwellers are in a better condition, although he laments that they always return outside despite warnings from authorities.
“Wala naman, that is rescue operation ng mga street sleepers and street dwellers, they were relocated to a nearby building […] as coordination made by the PCP commander, para hindi rin sila prone magkasakit,” Miranda told INQUIRER.net in a text message after being asked if a demolition operation was carried out.
(There’s none, that is a rescue operation of street sleepers and street dwellers. They were relocated to a nearby building as coordination was made by the Police Community Precinct commander so that they would not be prone to the diseases.)
“Alam mo naman ang makakaliwang grupo, they always make it appear that the government is abusive (You know well the leftist groups, they always make it appear that the government is abusive),” he added.
Recently, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno placed Sampaloc under the 48-hour hard lockdown, which means residents cannot leave their houses even to purchase goods and grocery items, as these would be provided for by the government.
Manila Public Information Office chief Julius Leonen clarified that the local government did not order and carry out any demolition operation on Thursday.
“The Manila City government did not carry out any demolition operation today. The city’s Department of Engineering and Public Works is currently focused on improving our public health facilities in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” Leonen explained.
Karapatan, on the other hand, questioned how people can remain at their homes when the structures were demolished by law enforcers themselves.
“With the tearing down of their homes, we are now deeply concerned about their welfare, as there are no plans at hand to make sure that the displaced residents will remain safe from the worsening threats of the coronavirus disease,” he noted.
As of now, Manila has over 500 confirmed COVID-19 patients; all over the country, the Department of Health said that there are now 6,981 patients infected with the coronavirus, of which 462 have died and 722 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 2.62 million individuals have been infected, while 182,907 have died from the disease and 708,160 have recovered from it.
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