President Aquino and Governor Talino-Mendoza Accountable for the Bloody Police Operations in Kidapawan, Cotabato

The International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada condemns in the strongest terms the April 1st police violent attack on peaceful protestors in Kidapawan, Philippines.

The protesters, mainly peasants, Lumads and their families who are suffering from the effects of the drought caused by El Nino, have been appealing to the government for food assistance and the release of much needed calamity funds. Specifically, they are calling on the national and provincial governments to provide 15,000 bags of rice for 6 municipalities for the duration of the drought, until farmers are able to recover.

As their appeals had been ignored, approximately 6,000 farmer and Lumad protestors occupied the Kidapawan highway on March 31 to draw attention to their demands. The following day, the police under orders from North Cotabato Governor, Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, conducted dispersal operations. Shots were fired at the protestors killing 3 and injuring some 116. Eighty-nine were arrested.

We hold the government of President Benigno Aquino III responsible for this crime. Government neglect forced the starving farmers and their families to conduct the protest actions in Kidapawan. The actions of the police are part of a wave of state-sanctioned attacks and a campaign of terror that the military, and paramilitary groups under its command, have been waging against the Lumad communities and peasants of Mindanao. Likewise, we hold Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, responsible for the killing of 3 protestors and the violence committed during the police operations.

ICHRP-Canada stands with the peasants and Lumad peoples in their struggle for economic and social justice. In solidarity, we demand that the Philippine government:

· Provide rice and calamity support to the areas affected by the drought.

· Conduct an immediate investigation of the massacre through an independent body.

· End the harassment and intimidation of peasants and Lumad peoples, and pull out government troops and para-military groups from Lumad communities in Mindanao.

· End the counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.

ICHRP-Canada calls on the Canadian government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to:

· Review Canada’s relations with the government of President Aquino. Canada should not compromise its commitment to human rights by uncritically supporting this brutally repressive regime and perpetrator of heinous human rights violations.

· Withdraw its support for and cooperation with the Philippine government’s security agenda which provides justification for the counter-insurgency program, Operation Plan Bayanihan.

· End all military support to the Philippine government, including the sale of military weapons and equipment and training for the military and police.

End human rights violations!

Justice for the peasants and Lumad of Mindanao!

Justice for the victims of the Cotabato massacre!