Villagers protest, demand release of promised aid

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

AROUND 150 residents of Sitio San Roque in Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City staged a protest Wednesday, April 1, saying they have not received any food and other promised assistance from their local government.

Twenty people ended up getting arrested for violating the prohibition against holding gatherings as a measure to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In a report, the Quezon City Police District said the 20 people were arrested around 11 a.m. for staging a protest action along Edsa. The other protesters ran and evaded arrest.

They were brought to the QCPD Crime Investigation and Detection Unit for the filing of appropriate charges.

Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, and several areas in the country are on lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, which has infected more than 2,000 and killed 88 people in the country as of March 31.

One of the residents, who joined the protest, said they have not received any of the promised assistance by the local government, especially food.

She said at least 6,000 residents of Sitio San Roque have gone hungry since the community quarantine was imposed on March 15.

“Hindi kami lalabas ngayon dito kung marunong din sila sumunod at alam din nila ang pangangailangan namin ngayon sa squatter. ‘Yung mga mayayaman nagpa-panic buying, kaming mahihirap nagpa-panic kasi wala kaming makain ngayon,” she said.

(We would not have gone out had they delivered their promise. The rich went panic buying, but the poor like us are panicking because we don’t have anything to eat.)

“Asan sila ngayon (politicians), magtatapos na ang quarantine ng isang buwan wala pa rin kaming natatanggap kahit isang kilong bigas,” she added.

(Where are they now? The one-month quarantine is almost over, but we have not received anything, not even a kilo of rice.)

The crowd cheered when the woman said that Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte should step down from her post along with their barangay chairman whom they supported last election.

Metro Manila was placed under a general community quarantine on March 15. Less than two days later, President Rodrigo Duterte widened the coverage to Luzon and imposed stricter quarantine rules.

Public transportation systems have been suspended and the people are ordered to stay at home, with local governments down to barangay officials mandated to provide food to their constituents. Only one person per household may go out for a supply run.

The government is rolling out a social amelioration program that will distribute a monthly subsidy of P5,000 to P8,000 to each poor family for two months. Local governments, however, have yet to complete the list of beneficiaries of the program. (SunStar Philippines)