Rights group warns vs whitewash on violent demolition in Silverio:BERNABE, PNP ACCOUNTABLE FOR DEATH, PHYSICAL INJURIES, ARRESTS

At least 18 bystanders were picked up and arrested, some 22 persons were wounded including 10 who suffered gunshot wounds, and one person killed. These are some of the cases that were initially documented during the April 27 fact-finding mission at the Silverio Compound in Paranaque City.  The fact-finding mission was conducted jointly by Karapatan and its National Capital Region chapter, National Union of People’s Lawyers, Health Action for Human Rights, and various church institutions and organizations after the violent demolition which occurred in the area last April 23.

Jigs Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general who headed the documentation teams believed that, “the number of incidents may still increase as residents come out and bear witness on their experiences. As of now, some of the victims of police brutality are still in shock and traumatized, others are afraid to speak up because of fear as intelligence personnel reportedly roam around the community. Some have sought temporary residence among relatives in nearby communities.” A detachment manned by police men in civilian clothes is stationed at the entrance of the compound.

The fact-finding mission also revealed that the three persons who were earlier reported killed at the height of the police attack were among the 22 documented wounded individuals. All three survived severe wounds from gunshots and were taken to the hospitals, one of them placed at the intensive care unit.  Majority of those arrested were also beaten up and thus suffered physical injuries while under police custody.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokesperson, addressing the crowd during the Solidarity Forum that was simultaneously held with the fact-finding mission, told Silverio residents that their exercise of their right to protest against a government policy that infringes on their right to decent housing and livelihood is legitimate. 

“These rights were gravely violated as the local government and the Philippine National Police (PNP) brutally  assaulted the urban poor residents in Silverio. It is outrageous, and foretells a whitewash, that national government officials as early as now claim that the violence and the hail of bullets that accompanied the demolition did not come from the PNP. The residents are those hit with bullets while not one among the members of the police sustained such injuries!” she added.

A number of evacuees from Caraga region and Bukidnon who are currently in Manila also attended the Solidarity Forum. Bebeth Enriquez, a Mamanwa from Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte, expressed solidarity with the residents of Silverio Compound. Enriquez, speaking in Cebuano, said that, “we share the same experience. Like you, we too are driven away from our homes, from our communities. The military used bombs to push us away for the entry of large-scale mining corporations. I, too, was a victim of indiscriminate firing by soldiers. We are now in several evacuation centers and the local government and agencies have not responded to our call to pullout the military troops in our communities so we can go home.”

“The reign of impunity, the violence and terror amongst the urban and rural poor, stems from the Aquino administration promotion of Public Private Partnership program which gives credence to private corporate interests such as that of the SM Development Corp. over the rights of the poor. We challenge Aquino to make accountable Paranaque Mayor Florencio Bernabe Jr., the PNP, and Henry Sy for these violations on the political and civil rights of the peoples and their right to housing,” Palabay concluded.