By VENMAR CECILLE
MANILA – Armed elements of the Manila Police District (MPD) disturbed the gift-giving program for the children of Valencia, Sta. Mesa, December 11.
The program was organized by the Tulong Kabataan Sta. Mesa (TKSM) for the families ravaged by the fire incident on August 21. Their initiative was able to provide Christmas gifts, toys, modules, clothes, and ready-to-eat food for more than 100 affected children.
According to TKSM, two heavily armed police, two police mobiles, and eight other police forces arrived at the venue, harassing their volunteers.
This is despite the organization’s permit and coordination with Barangay 636 officials. The police reportedly removed the tents, speakers, and other materials used by the organization, asking them to stop the program by 12:30 pm.
“We negotiated earlier to continue the alternative learning sessions (ALS) so that we can at least teach the children. However, they threatened us: May gagawin sila kapag tinuloy namin (We would do something if you don’t stop),” Ronjay Mendiola, coordinator of TKSM, told Bulatlat.
The police also branded the learning modules catering from Kinder to Grade 7, as subversive. The harassment and red-tagging happened while the program was ongoing.
“The organization prepared modules for arts and sciences, which should be further developed in our country. But why it is being branded as subversive? They simply fear the capacity of the youth,” Mendiola said.
In a statement, TKSM also said that their community initiative and their advocacy to fight for the future of the children are not terrorism.
“It is clear to Tulong Kabataan Sta. Mesa that what happened earlier was not only red-tagging but also an attempt to deprive the children of their right to education,” their statement reads.
The children’s program is supposedly a celebration of the community for Christmas, in partnership with different organizations and student councils inside the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
The organization was left with no choice but to disperse by 1:30 p.m., ending the program prematurely due to the intimidation and continuous intervention by the armed police forces.