SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Fourteen-year-old John Cali Lagrimas was shot and killed by a Philippine National Police (PNP) SWAT team while trying to defend a community from demolition by the Tarlac City government:
The groups said John Cali Lagrimas was killed when 200 demolition team members, 20 Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) elements and a hundred members of the Philippine National Police from Camp Macabulos in Tarclac City and Camp Olivas in Pampanga attacked the community in Block 7, Brgy. San Roque. They were led by a certain Col. Arnel Ramos of the Tarlac PNP city police.
According to reports, the demolition operation began at 8 a.m., but owing to heavy rains was temporary halted. The residents then commenced defending their houses by putting up barricades, but members of the PNP began shooting at the crowd, killing Lagrimas and wounding many others.
The minor was said to be a a member of the Samahan ng Kabataang Demokratiko sa Hacienda Luisita (Sakdal) and a resident of Brgy. San Francisco in Tarlac. Lagrimas’s widowed mother is a member of Anakpawis Partylist – Tarlac and one of the farmworkers of Hacienda Luisita.. Sakdal is a local youth organization in the area.
According to separate reports from party-list group Akap-Bata, Cali was directly shot by a still unidentified gunman while he was standing near the barricades the urban poor set up. Residents, Akap-Bata said, asserted that the gunshots came from the demolition team.
Anakpawis CL regional coordinator Joseph Canlas said there is a pending motion for nullification of the demolition order against Block 7 at the Tarlac City Regional Trial Court and a hearing was set on October 12. He said the police and demolition team who were involved in the violent demolition operation did not present any court order to the residents.
“The demolition was a obviously illegal, and a clear violation of the residents’ basic rights and due process,” Canlas said.
Anakpawis Partylist – Tarlac said the residents have been occupying the lot for 51 years and pay rent to its original owner. In the last few years, however, a certain Dennis Junio laid claim to the lot, but failed to present proof of his ownership. The residents — some 68 families — have refused to vacate the lot saying that Junio has no right to have them evicted.
“This is what the Aquino government’s policy and program on housing amounts to: the illegal and violent demolition of urban and rural poor communities. The government has no genuine mass housing and livelihood program for the urban poor, but it promotes the privatization and commercialization of land areas including those owned by the government,” Canlas said.
“This is the kind of thing Filipino children should expect from the government. It cares nothing for the lives and welfare of our parents, it cares nothing for the lives of children. If this government is truly humane, it would do its best to ensure that all Filipino children particularly the children of the poor and marginalized sectors would have all they need to survive, everything from food,education, shelter and protection. Children like Cali get killed all the time because of government neglect and violations against basic human rights. The Aquino government is directly to be blamed for the poverty and death of so many children because it does nothing to help them,” [Sakdal member Arjay Conception] said.