Karapatan to Cavite LGU: Stop the attacks, demolitions in Patungan coastal community

Photo from Pamalakaya

Rights group Karapatan called on the local government of Maragondon, Cavite to stop the attacks against residents of Brgy. Patungan, as it also called on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an independent investigation on the shooting incidents yesterday and the violent demolition of the residents’ homes to hold perpetrators accountable.

“We demand that the Cavite local government, from Maragondon Mayor Rey Rillo up to the provincial capitol under Gov. Jonvic Remulla, to stop the attacks against the people of Brgy. Patungan. Whatever legal bases the demolition team and the private entities are using to justify their actions, such use of force and violence to attack and sow fear among the residents is the height of heartlessness and callousness amidst this pandemic and the loss of lives and livelihood,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Reports from Karapatan - Southern Tagalog said that at least three residents were badly injured as elements of the Philippine National Police, as well as private security guards of Seraph Security Agency, opened fire at the barricade of people to stop the demolition team from entering their community, as shown in videos by those in the site yesterday.

Injured residents were identified as Erick Dominado, Leslie Lantar and Ace Amul, all who were reportedly sent to the hospital onboard boats, but heavily guarded by the police. A number of residents, including a woman identified as Risa Adulos, were forcibly handcuffed, beaten and threatened as the violence ensued.

“The brazen firing of guns against unarmed civilians, and the overkill deployment of state forces and demolition personnel, can only come from orders from the local government. The people are in defense of their homes and livelihood, while these businesses and the local government prioritize profit over the people,” Palabay said.

At least 30 buses loaded with elements of the PNP, firemen and hired security guards of Seraph Security Agency, reportedly went to Brgy. Patungan yesterday morning to demolish the houses and structures of about 600 families who rely on fishing, farming and eco-tourism to sustain their livelihood and community. “We ask the CHR to hold accountable those who issued the demolition orders and those involved in the incident yesterday,” she added.

“The residents in the area only have a barricade to defend their homes, with rocks against firearms of the police and private security forces. Even before the pandemic, this has been the grim reality of community members — their lives and future are not considered in so-called development projects as big businesses aim to rake tons of profit at their expense. This is favored and given imprimatur by those in government, to obtain revenues from such businesses,” said Palabay.

As of this writing, the residents are still manning the barricades in the more than 640 hectares of the coastal community, reportedly to be converted into an “exclusive beach resort.” This is not also the first time that the community was threatened of violent demolition, since the local courts issued demolition orders in favor of Virata-Sy developers.

The coastal area was reportedly sold by the Maria Teresa Virata Realty Corp to the Manila Southcoast Development Corp. (MSDC), a company owned by big business owned by the family of the late Henry Sy.

“We call on the public, including tourists who have been to the area, to support the people of Patungan. Stop the demolition at Patungan!” Palabay ended.