Hail to the best and brightest lawyers: Atty. Michael De Castro, Atty. Camille Parpan, Atty. Jocel Dilag of Leflegis Legal Services, Atty. Kristina Conti , Atty. Diane Azores of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and their indefatigable clients.

Said lawyers represented 21 urban poor residents of Barangay San Roque in the case described below:

Photo by Rappler from rappler.com used here non-commercially for academic purposes

“Pleading for food is a right: Court clears QC urban poor of quarantine lapses” by Lian Buan, Rappler
June 7, 2022

“After two years of trial, a Quezon City court cleared 21 residents of an urban poor community in Barangay San Roque of quarantine violation charges, as it ruled that pleading for food during the height of pandemic lockdown was “within their rights.”

“ “The accused were acting within their rights when they went outside of their respective residences to plea for food. Therefore, the police officers, at the time they confronted the accused and under the circumstances established in this case, cannot compel the latter to obey their directive to go home,” QC Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Branch 38 Judge John Boomsri Sy Rodolfo said in an order dated June 6 but received by lawyers of the so-called San Roque 21 on Tuesday, June 7.

“The urban poor residents were arrested in April 2020 after a violent dispersal of a protest for food aid in the height of a lockdown on Metro Manila due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were arrested, jailed for five days, and charged for violating quarantine for being outside of their homes.

“The laws used to charge them were Republic Act No. 11332, or what has been called a “broad” law against non-cooperation in a public health emergency; BP 880 that bans illegal assembly; and Article 151 that bans disobedience to authorities.

“The judge junked the case on demurrer, meaning an outright dismissal without requiring the defense to present their evidence. Still, the case took two years, and the San Roque 21 endured trial even when other similar cases were being junked by different courts and prosecutors because of the law being broad.
xxx” from rappler.com

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