Quezon City, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao today condemned yesterdays’ the mass arrest of 57 urban poor occupants of Apollo St. Tandang Sora, Quezon City and demanded their immediate releases. The lawmaker responded to facilitate legal aid the arrested at Camp Karingal last night.
Recently, the victims returned to their homelots of almost three decades where they were displaced. In June last year, their community was demolished by the Quezon City Task Force for the Control, Prevention and Removal of Illegal Structures (Task Force COPRIS), arbitrarily invoking that it was a fire hazard.
“It is ironic that Quezon City mayor Bautista who once observed at the peace talks between the gov’t and National Democratic Front of the Philippines, outright violates the rights of urban poor at his own area of responsibility,” Casilao said.
Casilao said that the displaced urban poor residents sought assistance of his office last year, thus, the filing of House Resolution No. 239, calling for a house probe on the violent demolition of their community. The victims said that after their displacement, they endured living at the nearby peripheries for about nine months, that prompted them to take back their homelots.
The land grabber, named Reynaldo Guiyab, who the victims believe has connections within the Quezon City local government, lost his case of claiming the 400-square meter twice in 1999 and 2001. The urban poor residents were only displaced due to an arbitrary order from the Quezon City Hall declaring the community as a fire hazard area.
“We remind the Quezon City local government office that the Apollo street issue is exposing more its elitist and anti-poor idea of development, or the obtuse mission of simply kicking out urban poor out of the city and not working for their socio-economic upliftment; though the victims are economically poor, it is the government officials who are essentially suffering poverty in philosophy,” Casilao said.
Casilao expressed his plan to file another resolution on this incident and condemned the absurdity of the local police who arrested the victims.
“The members of Quezon City police had the gall to arrest the victims, without knowing the basic background of the case. The police force is really oriented to follow the orders of the rich, whether they have no legal bases,” Casilao retorted.
Casilao said that it is becoming clear that whether it is the National Housing Authority (NHA) who opposed the occupation of unused relocation housing units in Bulacan by urban poor families, or the local government of Quezon City, the rights of urban poor are grossly violated. On the other hand, the urban poor sector is becoming more and more learned of the lesson of direct action or organized effort of concretizing their rights to shelter. ###