Kabataan condemns continued detention of youth activists opposing demolition in Le Jardin
Kabataan Partylist and its member youth organizations strongly condemn the illegal arrest and continued detention of four youth activists in Davao City after protesting against the demolition of houses in the disputed Bariquit Compound, Bugac, Maa last Friday, August 25.
“Not only were our fellow youth illegally arrested, they were maltreated and abused by the police. These young protesters were only fighting for the rights of the oppressed. And how has the government responded? With brute force,” said Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino.
Members of progressive organizations and residents of Bariquit Compound, also known as Le Jardin, tried to resist the implementation of a demolition order for the said compound last Friday.
The demolition order was secured by proprietors of Villa Abrille, who are claiming rights to the said compound. Since 2011, residents of Bariquit Compound and Villa Abrille proprietors have been disputing the said compound, with the latter planning to develop the area into a subdivision once the current residents have been driven away.
Throughout the months, the dispute has reportedly escalated, with authorities continually harassing residents by setting up barricades, destroying crops, and disconnecting water and electricity supply.
According to reports from the local chapter of Anakbayan in Davao City, around 20 fully-armed members of the Davao City Talomo Police arrived in Bariquit Compound at around 8 AM last Friday to implement the demolition order.
Residents and members of progressive groups resisted the attempted demolition, prompting a commotion between the protesters and the Talomo police.
During the clash, Toto Bolcan, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) Davao City Chapter, and four other youth activists were nabbed by the police.
Eyewitness reports reveal that the youth activists were “punched and electrocuted” before they were loaded into the police mobile, said Cherry Orendain, Anakbayan regional spokesperson.
While Bolcan was released at the police station for lack of evidence, the police detained the four youth activists at the Talomo Police Station, and were subsequently transferred to the Davao City Police Station.
The four were Joselito Lagon, Jr., regional spokesperson of Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (KARATULA), Wyrlo Enero, a member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS), and Johnny Boy Urbina and John Michale Lim, both members of Anakbayan.
“Such use of unnecessary force against the youth tells a lot about how authorities disregard human rights. We condemn in the strongest possible manner such violations of human rights,” Palatino said.
The Talomo police have pressed several charges against the youth activists. Lagon, Urbina and Lim were reportedly charged with “direct assault,” “disobedience/resistance to a person in authority,” and physical injuries. Enero was reportedly charged with destruction of government property.
Anakbayan held a series of vigil and protest actions calling for the release of the four.
Kabataan Partylist is studying the pressing of countercharges against the Talomo police. “We are also looking into the possibility of filing a congressional inquiry regarding the excessive use of force of the Talomo police when session resumes tomorrow,” Palatino said.
“We salute youth activists who valiantly fight for the rights of the oppressed, even if it endangers their own freedom. In the same vein, we condemn the police’s sheer lack of restraint and abuse of authority in this particular case,” Palatino said. “We call on the Davao City police to immediately release the four youth activists and drop the trumped up charges against them,” Palatino added.###