April 5, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – Amidst raw reports coming from its field investigators, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairman Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon on Monday clarified that the commission is still in the middle of its investigation on the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato last week.
To recall, CHR Region 12 director Erlan Deluvio told some media outfits Sunday that police in Kidapawan, who fired their weapons at protesting farmers, had clearly violated their human rights.
He noted that TV footage of the violent dispersal showed a prima facie case of human rights abuses that the police were the assailants.
Citing the gathered information from witnesses, Deluvio also said the farmers were already on their knees when shot by the cops.
But Gascon said such reports needs to be further validated.
He said they still need to gather more evidence to be able to come up with a more definite conclusion of the incident.
“I need to clarify that the CHR is still in the middle of its fact-finding process,” he said.
“Such raw reports given to us will have to be verified and validated with any corroborating evidence if available,” he added.
Gascon urged anyone who has relevant information on the incident to come forward and tell his or her side of the story.
He said the CHR has already formed an investigating team and dispatched them to Kidapawan to determine what really happened during the bloody dispersal.
“We shall be guided by the goal of helping shed light on the facts and to uncover the whole truth regarding what has transpired,” he noted.
For his part, Deluvio said they were still not sure if they could finish the report by April 8.
“Estimate lang po iyon. We cannot be certain as to the time frame,” said Deluvio, who is part of the CHR’s investigating team.
“Marami pa po kasi dapat kunan ng sworn statements. Both parties must be heard,” he added.
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.
Deluvio said their recommendations will be sent to Congress and the United Nations.