Urgent Action: Residents Seeking Covid-19 Relief Charged (Philippines: UA 50.20)

Police violently dispersed a peaceful protest by Quezon City residents who had gathered to demand government aid during the COVID-19 community quarantine. 21 protesters were arrested, detained and released on bail 5 days later. We call on the police to drop all charges against them as these are either contrary to international human rights law or carry penalties that will disproportionately affect the group. The authorities must also investigate the police’s use of force to disperse the protest.



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PBGEN Ronnie S. Montejo
Director, Quezon City Police District
21 Makadios Street, Diliman
Quezon City, Philippines 1101
Fax number: 632 8925 8326
Email: [email protected] [email protected]
Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez
Embassy of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202 467 9300 I Fax: 202 328 7614
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PhilippinesUSA
Facebook: @PHinUSA
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear General Montejo,

I am writing to express my concern about the use of force to disperse a peaceful protest and the charges against 21 residents of San Roque village, Quezon City. On 1 April, residents gathered on a road where a private company was supposed to distribute aid. When this did not happen, they decided to peacefully protest to call for government aid. Since the implementation of a community quarantine on 17 March to address the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Filipinos have been unable to earn a living.

Community leaders said residents and bystanders were violently dispersed by the police who hit them with wooden sticks. A man and his child who were not protesting but were in the area were injured. Following the dispersal, 21 individuals were arrested and detained for five days before being released on bail.

Those arrested face various charges, including “unlawful assembly” and “non-cooperation in a health emergency”, with combined penalties of up to 20 months in jail and fines of over PhP 1.1 million (USD 22,000) each. Amnesty International calls on governments not to imprison people solely for breaching public health restrictions, which is a disproportionate measure in the current context.

Additionally, a community kitchen set up in San Roque by a local group for the resident’s daily food needs has also been dismantled by the police and prevented from continuing, as it was supposedly in violation of the government’s quarantine orders in relation to gatherings of groups.

I call on your office to drop all charges against the 21 residents of San Roque village; launch a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the police’s use of force, which may amount to torture or other ill-treatment; and ensure that all residents of San Roque have prompt and adequate access to food, medicines and other basic needs, and are empowered and supported to comply with the community quarantine.

Yours sincerely,