April 2, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) on Saturday lambasted the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the awards given to elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP), who were allegedly behind the killing of at least three farmers in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato.
Kadamay chairperson Gloria Arellano said the move of the government to award those who were responsible for the “massacre is a reflection of the brunt” of the Aquino administration.
She added that the awarding “is beyond offensive and has basically encouraged further violence directed against farmers and poor Filipinos everywhere.”
For years, Arellano said the Aquino government “has used fascist and bloody hands” to stop “the resistance of protesting Filipinos to its anti-poor programs.”
She alleged that under the current administration at least 18 poor residents, who were active defending their communities have been murdered by the men of PNP, particularly from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
“Only the ruling Liberal Party (LP), where (DILG Secretary Mel Senen) Sarmiento holds the position as the Secretary-General, can stage such a fiasco that aims to deceive the public and to cover-up the brutality of the Aquino administration,” she added.
According to Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon, the DILG immediately gave medals to the PNP men who took part in the massacre of hungry El Niño–victimized peasants.
Ridon went to Mindanao on Saturday with former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares to assist the protesting farmers.
“Shame on the Aquino administration for prioritizing the awarding their killer personnel instead of simply giving the protesting farmers their sacks of rice,” he noted.
Ridon said the DILG and PNP have even blamed the protesters for the massacre.
He said the PNP reported that its crime lab findings found nitrate traces on the hands of the slain farmers.
“The crime lab results are a farce and should not be given any ounce of credibility,” Ridon said.
“It should be noted that the PNP took custody of the dead bodies, and cordoned off the scene of the massacre. This may have given them the opportunity to plant all kinds of evidence on the dead, such as pistols and nitrates on fingers,” he added.
Ridon further noted that the PNP found no firearms when they searched the United Methodist Church compound, where more than 4,000 farmer protesters sought refuge following the incident.
Shots were fired during the violent dispersal of protesting farmers, who were begging for aid–food and cash assistance, last Friday.
The incident claimed three lives and left more than a hundred wounded.
Some reports also said there were more than 50 people missing.
For its part, human rights group Karapatan alleged that it was the impending arrival of LP standard bearer Mar Roxas in Kidapawan City that prompted police to disperse the protesting farmers.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said some local officials do not want to be embarrassed with the LP.
Here’s a short clip of Palabay’s statement in a rally at the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City last Friday.
Video from Kodao Phils.