The Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) chided government officials for telling lies about the violent dispersal of protesting and hungry residents of Sitio San Roque in Barangay Bagong Pag-Asa in Quezon City Tuesday morning, April 1.
The urban poor group slammed interior and local government undersecretary Jonathan Malaya for alleging that Kadamay instigated the protest action along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue when the protesters were in fact members of a different group called the Sandigan ng Maralitang Nagkakaisa (SaMaNa).
“Saan naman galing ang impormasyon ni Malaya? Napakabilis naman niyang magimbento ng kuwento,” Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano said in a statement. (Where did Malaya get his information? He is so quick in inventing stories.)
Kadamay said Malaya accused the group of “fooling the residents to merely dramatize issues and make the government look bad as part of Leftist propaganda.”
But Arellano said Malaya’s allegation is false and is an attempt to misdirect the issue of hunger among urban poor communities during the government’s enhanced community quarantine order due to the corona virus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Ang usapin dito, kagutuman at panganib sa kalusugan ng mahihirap habang abusado ang sundalo, pulis at emergency powers ni Duterte, kaya inaresto sila at di tinulungan,” Arellano said. (The issue here is hunger and the danger to people’s health, while the military, police and President Rodrigo Duterte’s emergency powers are abusive. That is why the victims were arrested, instead of being helped.)
Arellano also rebuked Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief Guillermo Eleazar who hinted at the possibility that the action was spurred by Kadamay members from Pandi, Bulacan “looking to incite chaos.”
“Paano naman makakarating ng Quezon City ang mga taga Bulacan sa ganitong panahon?” Arellano asked. (How can those from Bulacan reach Quezon City at this time?)
Kadamay said Tuesday’s protest action was a spontaneous act by hungry residents demanding food and social services promised by President Duterte when he ordered the lockdown last March 15.
The urban poor group said that mass arrests and the gross lack of social services has been the defining feature of how the administration has handled the COVID 19 pandemic.
As of March 30, the PNP has tallied around 17,000 arrests while only 3,000 Filipinos have been tested for the virus.
“Simula pa lamang ng pandemic, dahas, aksyong military at tila martial law na ang naging tugon ng administrasyong Duterte. Hindi nakakagulat kung bakit biglaang kumikilos ang tao pagkat hindi na nila matiis ang gutom na hindi pinapansin ng mga nasa Malacañang,” Arellano said. (Since the pandemic start, violence, militarism and virtual martial law characterized the Duterte administration’s actions. We are not surprised that spontaneous actions are being held by hungry residents who are being ignored by the Palace.)
Arellano also stressed that the Duterte government should stop delaying and immediately release the social assistance it promised to low income families who are subjected to risks posed by the virus. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)