QC court fines 38 Kadamay members ₱200 each over trespassing case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 23) - A Quezon City court has charged 38 members of the urban poor group Kadamay for trespassing and fined them ₱200 each after occupying a fenced-off property in Tandang Sora in 2017.

Meanwhile, charges against three other members were dismissed in the account of their death.

“The court understands that the accused were driven by self-preservation under the circumstances and will thus impose the penalty of fine instead of imprisonment,” according to Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 43 Judge Don Ace Mariano Alagar in a ruling dated Feb. 22.

The group reoccupied the property in April 2017, after their makeshift houses within the premises were demolished in 2016 following three decades of residing there.

“The prosecution was able to establish that the previous occupants of the property were removed when their houses were demolished sometime in June 2016,” said the court. “That the occupants returned to the closed premises or fenced estate which was uninhabited because of an impending MMDA operation without the consent of the owners or their duly authorized representative.”

The court also disagreed with the justification of the members for entering the property that an impending clearing operation by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority would force them out of the street.

“MMDA enjoys the presumption of regularity and therefore lawful and legal,” it said.

“The evil sought to be avoided – the alleged clearing operations of the MMDA – is merely expected or anticipated," the court added. "If the evil sought to be avoided is merely expected or anticipated or may happen in the future, this defense is not applicable.”

In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police to prevent Kadamay members from occupying government housing units for military and police personnel.