Justice for Kidapawan massacre victims!
Pullout government forces from church sanctuary!
They were farmers and Lumad folk hard hit by El Niño. Hectares and hectares of their crops had wilted. Foodless for days on end, they grew desperate. They pleaded for government aid. They were told to wait because procedures had to be followed. So insisted North Cotabato governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, who most of them voted for and fondly called Governor Lala.
When more than 6,000 of them gathered at the Cotabato-Davao highway to dramatize their plight and stayed there for three days, they were deemed public order violators out to sabotage the local commerce and industry and embarrass the whole of government.
In fact, police intelligence said there were infiltrators and rebel elements among them. After due consultation with higher ups, state security agencies, and the judiciary, government acted swiftly to protect public interest in the fashion of the Mendiola Massacre and the Hacienda Luisita Massacre.
Early morning last Friday, the dregs of the earth who had endured the scorching summer sun were rained with bullets when they stood their ground after the five-minute order to disperse had lapsed. The figures are fluid, but at least three of the hungry protesters lay dead and hundreds injured, many seriously. Scores went missing.
Witnesses said they saw police officers firing directly at the crowd. President Noynoy Aquino had ordered the PNP to investigate, even as reports said it was the PNP who did the shooting.
No sanctuary for survivors
When the carnage and hot pursuit continued, the nearby Sportswood Methodist church and compound offered the fleeing mob a sanctuary. Thousands, scores bloodied and disoriented, squeezed themselves in. Among them is Bai Ali Indayla, a long-time human rights worker and now third nominee of Gabriela Women’s Party.
“May 4,500 farmers pa ang kasama ko dito sa Methodist church. Pinatayan kami ng kuryente at nakapaligid pa rin sa labas ang mga pulis at sundalo. Nanganganib ang buhay naming lahat. Kahit ang media hindi pinapalapit sa amin (I am with 4,500 farmers here at the Methodist Church. Electricity was cut off and the police and military continue to surround us. Our lives are in danger. Even the media are not allowed to come near us),” Bai Ali Indayla reportedly said via statuses shared by colleagues in GWP.
The unarmed protesting farmers and Lumad gripped sticks and stones. Why pit them against the full might of government? They ask for rice. Why serve them bullets?
We call on all justice-minded citizens to pressure the courts and the Aquino government stop being war freaks and desist from threatening the people by withdrawing the arrest and search warrants issued against the protesters. All security state forces must pull out from the church area immediately.
A long as the police and military remain encamped around the church, the farmers and Lumad remain in danger. It adds up to the injustice. In hunger, they are threatened with death and trumped-up charges. So this is where Aquino’s daang matwid ends after six years – in another massacre. ###
Reference: Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general, +63908-4383826
Hustisya National Office
2/F #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts.
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City 1100 Philippines
Telephone: (02) 990-6595