The freed youths are “our voice”

Aug. 31, 2012

Bariquit Compound residents are happy that the four youths who were arrested by the police in last Friday’s demolition attempt are now free and can now join them again.

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY – “We can do nothing against a powerful family; they became our voice that is why their lives are precious to us.”

This is how Marcela “Nanay Silay” Camumot describe the four youth activists who were arrested but are now out of prison on bail following the demolition attempt in Bariquit Compound, Purok 13, Bugac in Maa village, an area claimed by landed clan Villa Abrille, where some 28 families headed by Camumot live.

After posting bail amounting to PHP12500 (US$ 295.79USD), youth activists now known as the “Le Jardin 4” were freed from jail Tuesday.  They are Johnny Urbina, Bathala Lim of Anakbayan, Wyrlo Enero of the League of Filipino Students and Joselito Lagon, Jr., of the Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (Karatula).

The four are facing charges of “physical injury, malicious mischief, disobedience to persons in authority, physical injury, direct assault and obstruction of justice,” which, according to them is ironic as they were the ones who received a beating from the police upon joining the residents who barricaded themselves against the demolition attempt.

Notwithstanding the charges, the four vow to continue defending the residents of the Bariquit Compound saying they are not “cowered to fulfill their task for the helpless.”

“I am not afraid with what happened. In fact, it strengthens my determination to fight more boldly as state forces have proven to be suppressive of those who only stand up for their rights,” said Lim.

For Joselito Lagon, Jr., the four days they spent in detention were little compared with what the residents went through.

He said, in their almost one month of stay at the Bariquit Compound, they were witness to how the residents were repeatedly harassed by the security guards of the developers. He said there were even times when the security guards opened fire at the residents.

“But they prevailed because of their unity,” Lagon said. To him, they are “the true heroes who showed them things that were not taught in school.”

The four were also called “modern-day heroes” by the Kabataan Partylist – Southern Mindanao, “for showing clear bias for those silenced and denied of their democratic rights.”

The four were first detained at the Talomo Police Station last Friday and were transferred to the Davao City Police Office in Camp Domingo Leonor by Saturday.

After Executive Judge Hon. Judge Jill Rose Jaugon-Lo approved the bail posted by the four, they were brought back to the Talomo Police Station where their release orders were signed.

Upon their release, the four rejoined a mass action launched by militants outside the police station.

Nanay Silay, with other residents who were present during their release, was overjoyed to see them free. “I am glad that they are now free. We will surely attend to their needs now that they can join us again,” said Camumot. (with reports from Ron C. Clarion/

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