Sitio San Roque residents picked up in protest for food post bail

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Sitio San Roque residents picked up in protest for food post bail
After days in detention, the 21 residents of Sitio San Roque who were arrested at a spontaneous protest posted bail on Monday.
Release / Save San Roque

MANILA, Philippines — After days in detention, the 21 residents of Sitio San Roque who were arrested for an earlier protest action successfully posted bail late Monday afternoon. 

While demanding food and financial aid, the 21 were arrested last week after a spontaneous protest action they held was dispersed by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD). Accounts of the dispersal said that police violently hit the protesters during the dispersal.

According to Police Lt. Johanna Sazon of the QCPD Public Information Office, the 21 could all be released within the day provided they have no pending warrants. 

"Their releases are on process, yes. They'll file bail, at which point we'll check their records, and if there aren't any other pending warrants of arrest, they'll be released today," she told Philstar.com in Filipino in a text message. 

Urban poor groups Kadamay and Save San Roque have said that the rally was unplanned and occurred because residents of Sitio San Roque, a poor community near the city's malls, had been told incorrectly that supplies were on their way to them. 

Police reports said then that the 21 faced charges for violating the Bayanihan Heal as One Act and the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, among other laws.

Save San Roque, in its statement on the 21 posting bail, also noted that the families of Sen. Francis Pangilinan and celebrities Ria Atayde and Enchong Dee were among those who contributed for legal fees.

According to Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr, the 21 were ordered to pay around P15,000 each. 

“The whole process just shows how anti-poor the current justice system is,” said Nanoy Rafael from the Save San Roque Alliance, one of the groups assisting the community and the arrested protesters.

“From the bail bond, which is equivalent to more than a month’s wage, to the mountain of requirements, these already put the marginalized families at a disadvantage.”

Earlier that day, QCPD personnel were deployed to Sitio San Roque, supposedly to conduct a dialogue with members of the community over supposed violations of quarantine procedures. 

However, Save San Roque said in an earlier statement that the police operatives raided a community kitchen set up to feed residents and tore down protest posters. 

“It is also ironic to think how slow their release has been taking, as compared to their swift arrest just a week ago,” added Jmar Atienza, one of the Alliance’s co-conveners. — with reports from James Relativo

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