Residents of a slum area in the Philippine capital on Wednesday staged a protest to demand relief goods amid a month-long lockdown that has left many of them without work, forcing police to break the picket up and arrest 20 of them.
The residents of the district of San Roque in the suburban Manila city of Quezon assembled along a highway near their shantyhouses, claiming they have not been given any food packs and other relief supplies since the lockdown began more than two weeks ago.
Village security officers and police urged the residents to go back to their homes, but they refused, a police report said.
Police broke the picket up and arrested 20 of the protesters, the report added.
Jocy Lopez, 47, who led the group of residents, said they were forced to stage the protest because their families were going hungry.
“We are here to call for help because of hunger,” she said before she was arrested. “We have not been given food, rice, groceries or cash. We have no work. Who do we turn to?”
Activist groups condemned the arrest and urged the government to fast-track the release of cash assistance promised under a 200-billion-peso (4-billion-dollar) social protection programme to help poor families and those who lost work amid the lockdown.
“Using excessive force and detention will not quell the empty stomachs of Filipinos who up to this day remain denied of the promised … cash aid for the poor,” warned women’s rights group Gabriela. (dpa)