38 Kadamay homeless fined P200 each after 4-year trespassing trial
This photo posted April 11, 2017 showed group Kadamay holding a protest at the Quezon City hall and calling for the release of 41 of their members then detained at Camp Karingal.
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38 Kadamay homeless fined P200 each after 4-year trespassing trial

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - February 23, 2021 - 3:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — A Quezon City court has ordered 38 members of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) to each pay a fine of P200 for trespassing on a Quezon City property in 2017 from which they were evicted in the previous year.

The Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 43 found the 38 guilty of violating Article 281 of the Revised Penal Code, or of trespassing, for entering a property in Tandang Sora, Quezon City on April 2, 2017.

But Presiding Judge Don Ace Mariano Alagar decided to waive jail time for them.

“[T]he court understands that accused were driven by self-preservation under the circumstances and will thus impose the penalty of fine instead of imprisonment,” the ruling dated February 22, but made public on Tuesday, read.

SPECIAL REPORT: Why Kadamay and the urban poor are easy targets for government and the rest of us

It added: “The system of criminal law followed in the Philippines, true to the ways of constitutionalism, has always leaned toward the milder form of responsibility, whether as to the nature of the offense of the penalty to be incurred by the wrongdoer.”

Republic Act 10591, which adjusted the amount of fines for violations under the RPC, said trespassing may be penalized with arresto menor imprisonment of up to 30 days or a fine up to P40,000 or both. This law however took effect Sept. 16, 2017, or after the incident took place.

The court imposed the fine prior to RA 10591’s effectivity, which is P200.

Occupation of property

According to the court document, the urban poor members of Kadamay entered a private compound in Tandang Sora, Quezon City in the morning of April 2, 2017. They did so as a Metropolitan Manila Development Authority clearing operation would even force them further onto the streets.

A day after their occupation of the property, the respondents  said during trial, they were herded by heavily armed men and later brought to Camp Karingal where they were detained for ten days.

The respondents said they had been living on the streets for nine months. Houses they had lived in for decades were demolished in June 2016 following a court order that deemed these as fire hazards.

For their defense, they argued that they entered the property because the MMDA operation “partakes of the nature of state of necessity that would justify their trespass.”

The section lists justifying circumstances to not incur criminal liability.

Under Article 11, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, the defense of a state of necessity is a justifying circumstance that has three requisites: That the evil sought to be avoided actually exists; that the injury feared to be greater than that done to avoid it; that there be no other practical and less harmful means of preventing.

But the court said that the defense does not even justify the first requisite as the MMDA operation is lawful and legal, thus enjoys presumption of regularity. The clearing operations—the evils sought to be avoided—is expected or anticipated, rendering this defense not applicable.

“After a careful consideration of the evidence, the court finds and so holds that the prosecution has established its bounded duty to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt by the requisite quantum of evidence required by the rules,” the court said.

The prosecution had initially charged 41 persons, but three have died during the duration of the nearly four years of trial.

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