MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) condemned Monday alleged acts of police brutality during the demolition of illegal market stalls in Silverio Compound in Parañaque.
CHR Chairwoman Etta Rosales said news reports clearly indicate that police used excessive force to drive away illegal settlers who fought the demolition team Monday morning.
“It was very clear that when they had arrested some of the people, they started hitting them. They continued to hit them. You know, it is unlawful to strike back at arrested persons. That’s one very clear violation,” she told ANC.
She also protested the use of guns during the demolition even if police insist that they used blanks and not live ammunition. “Using blanks is a lot of hogwash. It's unbelievable,” she said.
She added: “An agent of the state has a responsibility to promote peace and order. They should not provoke.”
Rosales faulted Parañaque Mayor Florencio “Jun” Bernabe Jr. for failing to conduct a dialogue with the settlers. She said residents would have left their illegal settlements if they were informed properly.
She urged the local government to be more compassionate with the illegal settlers and sympathize with their plight.
At least one person was killed while 30 more were injured during Monday’s demolition at Silverio Compound.
‘Hakot’ crowd started violence?
Rosales, meanwhile, called for an investigation on reports that the violence during the demolition was started by protesters who were not residents of the barangay.
The CHR chief said she received reports that some people who started fighting the police were bused in.
“Normally, residents or informal settlers hindi naghahakot and they do not throw molotov cocktails. Tapos, nagtatapon ng mga malalaking bato. As I understand this, informal settlers are willing to dialogue. You create the conditions for dialogue and they will dialogue,” she said.
Groups condemn violence
Various groups condemned the violence during Monday’s demolition at Silverio Compound. Among the groups that condemned the violence were the End Impunity Alliance, Promotion for Church People's Response, Anakpawis, Bayan, COURAGE and Karapatan.
A Karapatan National Capital Region (NCR) paralegal team claimed 4 residents were killed in the demolition. They were identified as Bodging Isaias,16, Rodman Ortega, 16, Raymond Aquino, 36, at Arnel Tolentino Leonor, 21.
Meanwhile, some 36 persons were injured and 30 arrested in the violence.
COURAGE president Ferdinand Gaite said the excessive use of force and violence should be investigated and the responsible officials be held accountable.
SM Development Corporation has denied any involvement in the demolition. In a statement, SMDC said it is not involved in the demolition of existing structures in the Silverio Compound or in the dispersal of the protesters.
“SMDC is not the owner of the Silverio Compound. SMDC does not have any plans of developing the said area into a condominium project,” the company said in a statement.
It questioned why the company’s name is being dragged into the incident.