Australian Chapter: Australian Council of Trade Unions; Maritime Union of Australia, Victorian Branch; SEARCH Foundation; Philippines Australia Union Link; Action for Peace & Development in the Philippines, Migrante Australia

MEDIA RELEASE

April 8, 2016,

Philippines Consulate served with protest letter after massacre of Filipino farmers on April 1, 2016

“We are outraged at the shooting of a large and peaceful protest of farmers in Kidapawan, Mindanao, last Friday morning, by the Philippines National Police. We demand action from the Philippines President today, along with protests around the globe,” said Peter Murphy, spokesperson for the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, this morning.

The incident left two persons dead, and at least 37 hurt and wounded. Many are still unaccounted for after the violent dispersal, including women, elderly and six minors. At least 45 men were illegally arrested and are now under police custody at the Kidapawan Gym, while 27 women (three are pregnant and two senior citizens) were arrested and are now at the Kidapawan City Convention Center.

The rest of the protesters who are in sanctuary at the Spottswood Methodist Center of the United Methodist Church (UMC) continue to experience harassment, as combined elements of the police and military surround the church compound and restrict the entry and exit of farmers, their supporters, and church-goers.

The farmers mounted the protest to call the government’s attention to the much-needed distribution of relief goods and agricultural assistance amid the impact of the El Niño phenomenon. The government had promised billions of pesos to mitigate the situation. But nothing followed.

We call for:

1. Immediate independent investigation of the incident;

2. Pull-out of police and military elements blocking the entry and exit of protesters and support groups in the UMC compound;

3. Release of protesters illegally detained by the PNP;

4. Immediate distribution of the rice support and other calamity assistance to the farmers;

5. Relief and prosecution of police officials involved in the dispersal and shooting of farmers pending an impartial investigation;

6. The accountability of Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza and all involved officials;

7. The Philippine Government to adhere to respect the basic fundamental right of its citizens to freedom of association and assembly, and to come to its defense and aid when disasters have deprived them of their basic needs.

Further protests will take place at the Consulate on Thursday April 14 12.30pm, and the Dept of Foreign Affairs, 123 Pitt St, on Friday April 15, 12.30pm.

For further comment: Peter Murphy 0418 312 301

Jane Corpuz-Brock 0410 453 459