Violent and bloody demolition at the Silverio Compound

A resident was shot dead and more than 30 injured, many by gunfire, as police forces demolished homes and several commercial establishments in Silverio Compound, Paranaque City, April 23. News video footages anddocumentation by citizen media groups showed members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) armed with M16 rifles firing indiscriminately as they dipersed residents who formed a human barricade to try to stop police and demolition teams. Also shown were scores being arrested, bloodied and beaten up even as they were already in the custody of the police. “Bato lang po at mga katawan namin ang aming pangdepensa sa aming mga bahay, pero tinapatan nila kami ng mga sniper at mahahabang baril,” said the residents. After several rounds of volley gunfire, Arnel Leonor Tolentino, 21 was confirmed dead by gunshot on the head and several others also shot in vital areas are in critical condition. Not a few residents have gunshot wounds in their arms and legs, some as young as 15-16 years old. Ready for battle “Naghihimagsik ang aming kalooban sa karahasan na ginawa sa amin ng gubyerno. Alam namin na pupunta sila para gibain ang mga bahay namin, yung barikada at mga bato ay para ipagtanggol ang aming bahay. Pero bakit sila nambaril, bakit kinailangan nilang pumatay?” said Shella Bernal, a community leader in Silverio. According to Bernal, truckloads of police and SWAT personnel came early in the morning and was clearly geared for battle. “Yung iba sa kanila, hindi naman taga-Paranaque yun. May mga snipers pa sa taas ng building,” said the residents. Congressman Edwin Olivares and former Congressman Ed Zialcita, seeking to prevent a violent confrontation also helped negotiate and mediate between the police and residents. “Hindi mapakiusapan ang mga pulis na ‘yun. Alam mo kapag kakaiba ang tapang nila eh, hindi sila nasisindak man lang. Nagnenegotiate na nga kami, eh bigla naman silang nag-teargas. Yun na,” said Zialcita. Various accounts from residents, negotiators and media confirm that tensions rose when the police shot teargas canisters at the barricade. Residents threw the canisters back at the police and hurled stones to keep the police away from the barricade. Then, shots were fired by the SWAT team aiming at the residents. ‘Blank bullets’ Arnel Leonor Tolentino, 21 was seen lying on the pavement and was later confirmed dead by gunshot. “Yung katabi ko, si Raymond Aquino, asawa nung chairwoman ng vendors assouciation, sa dibdib tinamaan, parang patay na eh,” said Roy Velez of Anakpawis NCR. Aquino was initially among those reported dead but was later found in the hospital in critical condition. Among those shot was Rodman Ortega, a 16 year-old resident, which was shot in the right arm which shattered his bone. “Pinauwi ko na nga siya, kasi baka madamay pa nga. Patawid lang daw siya at bigla siyang tinamaan sa braso. Pag-uwi nya parang nakahandusay na at duguan. Kaya pinuntahan ko nga yung mga pulis at pinagmumura ko eh. Wala naman kaming baril, bato lang, bakit kami ginanon,” said his father. According to his father, Ortega was refused treatment by a nearby hospital after failing to pay P15,000. Medics from people’s organizations which conducted a fact-finding mission later attended to him. Paranaque City Mayor Jun Bernabe and police forces later claimed that only “blank bullets” were used. The police later made random arrests, video footages showed plain clothesmen apprehending what appeared to be minors, passersby and some women. Videos also showed bloodied residents already handcuffed but still being beaten upby the police. A total of 33 were arrested, 8 of them minors and 2 women. According to the residents, after the police managed to enter the community and conduct the demolition of their talipapa, they raided houses, rounded-up men and arrested residents. “Nagsona sila, binahay-bahay nila at aarestuhin daw lahat ng kalalakihan, kaya marami ang nagtago, hindi din makalabas at makapagpagamot yung may mga sugat. Nahirapan din kumuha ng impormasyon,” said Velez. Velez had to be wrapped in bedsheets and pretend that he is sick in order to get out to report to people’s organizations what transpired and seek help.
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