Government officials have finally stepped in to avert further bloodshed in the Tagum City land dispute between agrarian reform beneficiaries and Lapanday Foods Corp, after two more farmers were wounded in an attack the corporation’s guards today.
The latest outbreak of violence brings to nine the number of farmers injured since beneficiaries asserted on December 9 their claim to land already awarded by the DAR and the regional trial court.
Wounded were Randy Rana and another farmer, surnamed Patindol, who were among seven members standing guard over field workers harvesting crop and then slashing down banana trees.
Aides of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano, who is issuing a cease and desist order today against Lapanday, and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have been coordinating since rthe initial outbreak of violence last Dec. 12.
Soon after word of the second attack broke, the DILG issued orders to local officials, prompting aid for beleaguered farmers.
In a telephone interview, Tagum Mayor Allan L Rellon, who reached the site around 10 am, said he had ordered the local police to disarm the guards.
Rellon also said he would put up a “command incident center” to prevent further violence.
Renante Mantos, chairperson of Hugpong Sa Mga Mag-uuma sa Walhog Compostela (Humawac), the alliance of farmer cooperatives from the Tagum barangays of Madaum and San Isidro said, also in a phone interview, that local cops had initially refused to step in because the incident happened on private land.
He said both incidents were premeditated and without provocation from farmers.
Rellon said his office had attempted a dialogue in the city hall with the chief of police and provincial agrarian reform officials. He said it did not push through because farmers’ representatives would not leave their camp site on the disputed land.
Mantos said leaders wanted farmers to listen to the dialogue and they could not abandon the land because the armed guards would move in.
Slashed trees: Marbai representatives have harvested and slashed down around five hectares of banana crop, saying they would plant the cleared land with vegetable crops to augment the food needs of 159 families.
Farmers were cutting down banana trees when guards of Lapanday’s security agency, ACDISA, attacked this morning, according to Mantos.
Mantos said farmers had slashed at least five hectares of banana plantations yesterday.
“The guards would not let us farm and harvest in peace so we decided on an action that would also deprive them of what Lapanday wants to steal from us,” Mantos said in the local dialect.
He also said the cleared land would be rehabilitated and planted with vegetables and other crops that could augment the food needs of some 159 beneficiary families.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had sent a legal team and held an emergency meeting after the first shooting incident last December 12.
It immediately ordered regional and provincial executives to probe the incident and file cases against some 20 perpetrators, led by the head guard only identified by his surname, Vicente.
Lawyer Jobert Pahilha, legal consultant for DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano, said officials would also file today with DARAB (adjudication board) Davao del Norte a motion for Execution of the May 12, 2016 order of installation and to Supervise Harvest.
Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) Jose Nilo Tillano issued a ruling in December 2015 for the Marbai members to be installed on the disputed 145 hectares.
“The said decision has long been final and executory but was not implemented by PARAD Tillano for one reason or another,” Pahilga said.
In October this year, impatient farmer-beneficiaries camped out in front of the Lapanday gate. Mariano had dialogued with the farmers, saying the government wanted to install them peacefully without compromising their safety and security.
Even as National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants Wilma and Benito Tiamzon finally walked out of detention from Camp Crame today, reports from regions indicate that state security agencies are stepping up attacks against legal activists.
The Rural Missionaries of thePhilippines reported the arrest today (August 19), around noon, of 64-year old Amelia pond, the order’s regional coordinator for Southern Mindanao.
Pond is also the research and documentation officer for the Salugpungan School Network in Mindanao, which remain the only available opportunities for education of indigenous children.
The attack happened as peace panels of the government and the NDF were preparing for the resumption of long-stalled peace talks in Oslo, Norway.
Pond was accosted by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) criminal instigation and detection group (CIDG) after a three day RMP assembly at the Living the Gospel Renewal Center on Archbishop Reyes Avenue, in Cebu City’s Lahug district.
Her arrest came as activists and peace advocates were hailing the release of the Tiamzon couple, which brought the number of freed National Democratic Front (NDF) political prisoners to 17.
“They will join 15 others so far released in peace talks in Oslo on August 22 and for consultations with the NDF Negotiating Panel,” lawyer Edre Olalia said. Two of the released consultants are not joining the Oslo talks as they need urgent medical care, NDF sources said.
The RMP report said Pond was in a taxi with three other people when CIDG cops blocked them. They forced her out of the vehicle.
“The female CIDG held her by the arm and asked her with different names but she denied. This was followed by more questions showed photographs, and a supposed warrant of arrest, but they did not make her read the warrant,” the report said.
“One of Amy’s companion insisted that she should read the warrant for her to know what her case is but despite Amy and her companion’s insistence they failed to let Amy read the warrant. Amy vehemently resisted this illegal arrest.”
The witnesses said one of the CIDG men went near Amy and inserted two ID’s in her bag.
“Then they asked her to alight the car. She refused to go with them but they forced her. In this instance, Sr. Francis Anover and Sr. Marisol Garduno who were also in the center immediately went to her rescue.”
Pond was brought to Camp Sotero in Cebu City. and charged with double murder and frustrated murder in Compostela Valley under the name of Adelfa Toledo.
Before Pond’s arrest, Quezon province cops nabbed a peasant leader identified with the military party-list group, Anakpawis.
Bulatlat quoted Pacalda as saying the peasant leader held with him his copy of the certificate from the National Amnesty Commission when he was arrested at around 9 a.m. Aug. 12. He was on a jeepney en route to the Anakpawis Partylist’s office in Catanauan town.
The rebellion charge against Pajalla, which is the ground for his arrest, was first filed in 1995. But Pajalla was granted amnesty by President Ramos in 1997, said Pacalda.
Karapatan and other rights groups have warned that the continuing presence of paramilitary troops — trained and supervised by the military — represents a major threat to the peace process.
“We must watch out for saboteurs,” said Catholic Bishop (Caloocan City) Deogracias Yñiguez on the eve of the Tiamzons’ release. He said church workers and civil society and people’s organizations must remain vigilant on human rights violations and other abuses, which could wreak havoc on the peace process.
The Ecumenical Bishops Forum and the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, Yñiguez said, worked hard with other groups “to find many ways to ensure that the crucial peace process resumes.”
Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo confirmed that paramilitary troops strafed a lumad community on July 30 during holding a wedding in San Fernando, Bukidnon, killing a pregnant woman and wounding seven other people, including five children.
A DSWD report said a paramilitary group associated with the 8th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army. Taguiwalo said all victims beneficiaries of the DSWD’s 4Ps and Modified Conditional Cash Transfer Program (MCCT).
Taguiwalo also ordered an investigation into the provision of projects for suspected mastermind ‘Alde Salusad’ or ‘Butsoy’ despite a warrant of arrest for a previous killing of a lumad datu, Jimmy Liguyon, in front of his small children.
The Save Our Schools (SOS) network said attacks on indigenous schools in Mindanao have increased following then assumption of Duterte. The tough talking leader has close links to restive indigenous groups fighting against the entry of big mining firms and plantations into their ancestral lands.
In the areas around Duterte’s home city of Davao, teachers were forced to close down some schools because of death threats, according to SOS executive director Rius Valle.
He said paramilitary forces trained and supervised by military officials were hunting the teachers in the Pacquibato district of Davao City.
“They documented attempts to kill them,” Valle said in an interview.”The two teachers had to close down the school and seek sanctuary in Davao City.”
After the Paquibato incident, which happened just before Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (Sona), paramilitary troops also killed the leader of a parents’ association in a lumad school on the outskirts of Davao City. The community in the area have a long running feud with religious leader Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, a known supporter and friend of Duterte.
On August 13, six men, riding in tandem on three motorcycles, also strafed a group of lumad in Barangay Zillovia, Talacogon, Agusan del Sur. A woman, shot in the chest, had to be placed under intensive care.
The victims are indigenous claimants to land now covered by an forestry agreement granted to Provident Tree Farms, INc.
The RMP said the incident is connected to an earlier series of attacks, including the murder of Datu Mansulbadan, the former supreme datu of the Manobo community in the area.
Four other Manobo — including a 13-year old boy — who were the apparent target of the gunmen suffered less serious injuries. The attack also prompted an evacuation of residents.
Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s next President, has appointed defense lawyer Salvador Panelo as his spokesman.
Presidential transition teams usually vet nominees. Maybe, Duterte, who got Panelo to represent him during the public lynching stage-managed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes, feels he knows the lawyer well enough to forego of the vetting process.
Mr. Duterte chose wrong. Journalists and media groups are telling him so. As have the families of the media victims in the Nov. 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre.
“Hindi ako komportable. Hindi tama (I am not comfortable. This is not right),” said Mary Grace Morales on behalf of other families of our fallen colleagues.
“Parang alam na namin saan patungo ang kaso (We know where the case is headed),” Morales, whose husband Rosell, circulation manager of the community paper, News Focus, died in the massacre, said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) quoted Morales as saying, “Kung sya (Panelo) na talaga, hindi na ako aasa na may mangyayari pa sa kaso na ito (If he is really appointed, I will no longer hope for progress in this case),” she added.
Duterte campaigned on the promise to rid the Philippines of criminals and abusive government officials. Few clans are more abusive than the Ampatuans of Maguindanao.
Panelo was a defense lawyer for the Ampatuan massacre principals. He withdrew as counsel for Andal Ampatuan Jr. in December last year.
The NUJP expressed serious misgivings on his appointment as spokesman. It noted the “possible implications on the trial of those accused of what is acknowledged as the single deadliest attack on the press in history and one of the worst incidents of electoral violence in the country.”
I am a member of the NUJP, one of its former chairpersons. While the statement was right on most points, a tougher call is in order.
Mayor Duterte must rethink his appointment of Panelo
Do you see this quote, sir?
More than 50 people died, most of them hapless journalists. It was a MASSACRE of civilians.
Unarmed civilians, many of them women, one of them a lawyer who worked with the poor. A massacre, sir. The single, most vicious attack on journalists ever, worldwide. And it happened in your beloved Mindanao.
One can be a defense lawyer and protect suspects’ rights.
It is another thing to peddle the lies of killers, the worst of murderers.
Panelo described the charges as fabricated.
F A B R I C A T E D.
That speaks of his affinity to truth — an ocean separates him and truth.
This is the man who will be your spokesman?
There are, what… 6,000 positions? Put him somewhere where his presence does not taint the search for justice.
Other media groups have also raised opposition to Panelo’s appointment.
Philippines Graphic editor in chief, Joel Pablo Salud said:
I can already see where the Ampatuan case will be going with your choice, Mr. President, of a spokesperson. While I believe and will fight for people’s rights to have their day in court, lies like this one do not help the cause of justice. I suggest you find someone else to stand as your voice to the people because by this statement alone, this man could endanger your presidency even before it starts.
National Press Club president Paul Gutierrez said it would be difficult for journalists to work with Panelo.
“Members of the press would find it hard to interact, and work with, a press secretary whose main client are the suspects in the wholesale murder of the members of the press that has outraged the entire world,” Gutierrez said.
“We understand certain debts owed during the election season need to be paid, but for a candidate who won overwhelmingly on a promise that change is coming, this is not the refreshing wind of change our clients sorely need now,” said Romel Regalado Bagares, Executive Director,Center for International Law.
“The choice is uninspired, to say the least. But it is clear it does not really understand the gravity of what happened on Nov. 23, 2009 on a hill in Sitio Masalay, Ampatuan, Maguindanao. Sadly, it is a choice that does attack not impunity decisively but rather, perpetuates it,” the lawyer and journalist said.
I oppose the candidacy of Rodrigo Duterte because of his views — and actions — that are inimical to human rights. I oppose the candidacy of the dictator’s son, who still pines for the bloody paradise of his father.
“If you allow them to oppress your fellow man and you do not speak up, you will be the next one to be oppressed.”
Aquino repeated the famous quotes of Martin Niemoller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken critic of Hitler and spent the last years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
“First they came for the communists, but I did not speak out because I was not a communist… finally they came for me and there was no one left to speak up for me.”
Let me jog your memory, Mr. President. What did your government do while soldiers and para-military forces hounded Lumad to death in Mindanao?
When the Lumad sought sanctuary in Davao, your Liberal Party colleague tried to force their “rescue”.
Your Armed Forces earned a sharp dressing down from a UN expert when they tried to manipulate his words and the truth (yes, pretty much Goebbels-style, right?)
You snubbed the Lumad when they came to the capital to call attention to their plight.
Yet your allies in Congress and your AFP brass — and your national security office in Malacanang — hosted pet datus as they preached their belief that anyone with “alien” ideology was fair game for murder.
Nobody came to the aid of 15-year old Manobo boy from Sitio Mando, Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon.
He didn’t just hear of the murders of his kin, Mr. President. He actually begged soldiers to spare their lives, appealing that his father, brothers and cousins be jailed if, indeed, they had done anything wrong. His father was 70 and blind; his brothers 20 and 19 years old. One of his cousins was 13 years old; the other was 17.
He begged the soldiers, Mr. President. And they shot father, brothers and cousins, one by one.
Remember them, Sir?
On September 1, in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao Sur, the head teacher of a lumad alternative school was found murdered.
Emerito Samarca’s students at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV) discovered his body. The folk at Diatagon had no access to education until private efforts established Alcadev for Manobo, Banwaon, Higanon, Talaandig and Mamanwa youth.
You spurned Alcadev’s students when they were in town late 2014 to protest the militarization of their schools.
A year later, these same children saw Dionel Campos and his cousin Belio Sinzo murdered by paramilitary troops.
The three gentlemen’s crime — providing a safe space for the education of children neglected by government.
No one came to help the hapless Lumad, Mr. President. No one from your government. It took private citizens and people’s organizations and churches to come to their aid.
And don’t you talk of coming to the aid of people suspected of being communists.
There have been more than 300 cases of extra-judicial killings under your administration. Eighty of these involved indigenous people or tribal groups. Almost always, people your government suspects of being communist.
You couldn’t even be bothered over the death of hungry farmers, Mr. President. Spare us your warnings.
We know about tyrants and what they can do to the country.
You speaking on our behalf isn’t just silly and thoughtless as you often are. It is criminal, because it seeks to use legitimate fears to cover-up your government’s attrocities.
Your government kills teachers and children, Mr. President. WE WILL NOT FORGET.
My son calls him, “the real action man.” A friend, a true-blue capitalist from Binondo, beams on hearing the name Neri Colmenares.
Neri Colmenares (#11) is the first and only one of two names on my Senate list.
The man lawyers call “Comrade Amparing” has given honor to the term “activist”.
He paid his dues as a teenager – arrested, tortured, jailed.
He has never acted like he’s owed for the sacrifice.
After years as a human rights lawyer and three terms as Bayan Muna representative in Congress, Neri continues to invest his soul and root his politics in the “karaniwang tao.”
The people’s lawyer became the people’s fighter in the House of Representatives, bastion of traditional politicians. He authored 11 laws, including these:
Amending the Rent Control Act by prohibiting excessive rent for low income groups;
the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) law, increasing the salaries of PAO lawyers;
the law requiring disaster warnings through text; and
the law creating Special Election Precincts for persons with disabilities and senior citizens.
These are laws that affect the lives of millions of Filipinos in ways that truly matter.
He authored several human rights laws including the law compensating human rights victims during Martial Law, the Anti-Torture Law and the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law.
His bill for a P2,000 pension hike for Social Security System members sailed through the House of Representatives. Senators gave him the highest display of respect by adopting his bill en toto and passing it swiftly.
He aims for the elimination of VAT on electricity, water and fuel; the prohibition of privatization of public hospitals and public health services; the increase in income tax exemptions; the Freedom of Information Law.
He’s also the main author of the bill, Magna Carta of Airline Passengers Rights, to protect passengers from abusive airline companies. You and I know how important this is.
It’s easy to see why Neri has worked so well in the House of Representatives.
Soft-spoken, polite to all, with a comic bent, he is ferocious when attacking abuse and persuasive in advocating his causes.
Colleagues across party lines stress his diligence, sharpness and his skill in building consensus where it can be forged.
His labors extend beyond the doors of Congress, all the way to the Supreme Court where he won a decision stopping Meralco and other electric companies from imposing excessive electricity rates in Metro Manila and other provinces.
He was also petitioner in the Supreme Court cases which declared DAP and PDAF pork barrel unconstitutional and in the P10 Billion overcharging and refund case against Globe and Smart telecoms. He has argued before the Supreme Court several times in various petitions defending human rights and the public against excessive rates for public service — including unjust MRT-LRT rate increases.
He argued before the US District Court in Hawaii for the compensation of human rights victims on the Marcos human rights case. He is the President of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) a national association of human rights lawyers and a Bureau Member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers based in New York and Belgium.
Oh, Neri is one of a handful of candidates who openly espouse divorce. He’s for the anti-discrimination bill that gives justice and dignity to LGBT’s in this country.
Lourd de Veyra says: He’s solid.
Neri’s more than solid. In a field full of dross, he’s golden.
Plus, how many senators can sing Buchiki and What a Wonderful World and give these equal meaning?
What’s the difference between a joke and a dirty slip showing? How do you distinguish hyperbole from a person’s genuine worldview?
In the case of the Davao strongman Rodrigo Duterte, the offensive comments come too regularly to be dismissed as careless witticism.
Credit Duterte for defending indigenous peoples hounded by henchmen of corporations out to wrest their ancestral lands. Credit him for condemning the massacre of hungry folk in Kidapawan. Praise him for wanting to expand agrarian reform to ensure farmers get the support they need. Hail his commitment to resume stalled peace talks with communist rebels and provide meaningful autonomy to the Bangsamoro.
The Davao mayor has not admitted to any extrajudicial killings. He claims the criminals killed under his direct supervision were all gunned down in battles with law enforces. No case has been filed against Duterte for these extra-judicial killings.
His supporters stress this to debunk charges of selective justice. But there is no doubt that people have been summarily executed under Duterte’s watch.
Duterte may not have actually pulled the trigger. But speech after speech – to cheers and ovation – Duterte, a lawyer, spits on the nation’s laws, including the Constitution, presenting murder as legitimate law enforcement policy.
Who judges the innocent?
In his April 12 rally at the Amoranto stadium, Duterte said he has never killed an innocent person. But who judges innocence or guilt? The courts do, not the mayor, not the President. To deny suspects a chance to defend themselves in court does not solve the problem of injustice.
In the same rally, Duterte expressed sympathy for the plight of the Bangsamoro.
“I have to swear to the flag. My duty to the republic is to protect everybody, including the Moro people,” he promised disappointed leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
That’s impressive. But government officials swear to protect the rights of everyone, including people suspected of committing crimes.
The military routinely tramples on these rights where suspected militants are concerned, including the Lumad fighting to keep their lands free of abusive extractive industries. Officials of the Aquino government routinely justify these abuses. They are wrong. And so is Duterte in his equally selective notion of human rights.
Duterte talks about the evils of corruption, of how top leaders have made a rich, small segment of the population more equal than the rest.
His followers also cite the same – criminals coddled by lawmen, judges, other officials – as a reason for their impatience with legal niceties and their support for death penalty sans any check and balance, except a leader’s righteousness.
I will not disabuse them of the belief that injustice stalks the land. It does; my Facebook page is filled daily of examples, from tragi-comedy to full-blown horror.
Nor will I try to paint Davao City as the country’s crime capital. It isn’t.
But there is no excuse for murder. There is no reason on earth that justifies state-sanctioned murder.
My rights are everybody’s rights
Dutere asks, “anong mawala sa inyo kung patayin ko ang criminal?” (What would it cost you if I kill criminals?)
I have seen state security officials kill people on simple suspicion of being criminals. I have seen friends die, seen them arrested and tortured. I have seen people languish in jail even when the courts have cleared them of alleged crimes.
I cannot agree that others do not deserve the same rights I fight for, the same rights government officials are sworn to defend.
Duterte isn’t a neophyte politician. He has had decades as local chief to provide an alternative to instant-gratification, vigilante justice.
He offers higher wages for law enforcers. They certainly need it – like the rest of the country needs it.
But Duterte should be detailing steps needed to ensure that cops and soldiers do their job right, like trainings to lessen their use of shortcuts that then lead to lost cases.
He could list steps he’s done and will do to ensure the poor – defendants and plaintiffs – are guaranteed legal aid by efficient and honest government lawyers.
He could talk about workable rehab programs for young people who fall prey to drug abuse. He could talk about imposing harsher penalties for corrupt prosecutors who throw cases, or work with citizens’ groups to keep watch on hoodlums in robes.
It’s not that he hasn’t helped drug addicts. He has, as witnessed by Clarisse Le Neindre, who know runs a rehab facility after recovering from addiction with Duterte’s help.
Why then stress shortcuts as solutions to problems? Duterte is doing people a disservice by pandering to the worst of our instant gratification tendencies.
He presents the sona – the whole-scale round up of suspected addicts and community pushers – as the swift response to the scourge of drugs. That blueprint misses the fat cats who control the entry, the manufacture and the deliveries of drugs to affected areas.
Double standards, too
Duterte says poor Filipinos will come first under his presidency. He opposes contractualization.
Yet he promises to create an enclave where foreign investors can stay safe from the reach of the country’s laws.
He personally commits to keep them safe from inconvenient truths – like the fact that workers have the right to unionize.
For all Duterte’s talk about the poor’s right to prosper, he sees the struggle for economic rights as an enemy of development. And, indeed, in his first official campaign speech, he threatened to kill labor leaders who would not heed his “appeal” for a moratorium on union work.
He banners his credentials as a dear friend to the LGBT community. By all accounts, he treats them well.
Some gay friends who support him say they see nothing wrong with it.
If he uses it as an adjective that reflects your self-identity, there is nothing wrong with it. If you slam others for using bakla as a slur, why is Duterte suddenly exempt from those standards? His use of the word only encourages the bitter, hateful homophobia that have harmed so many of your peers.
And then there’s rape and his attitude towards women. He and his wife have a unique relationship and I will not impose my standards of fidelity on them. I must also acknowledge that, unlike ousted president Joseph Estrada, no one has charged Duterte with stealing public funds to subsidise his womanising activities.
Davao also has many pro-women policies.
And yet, he opens his mouth and something else comes out.
Duterte recently shared this tale of criminals in detention twice grabbing hostages. The second incident involved a bunch of Christian prayer warriors, including an Australian woman who was raped and then had her throat slashed, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.
Duterte used the anecdote to stress how incorrigible some criminals are and also to show his willingness to risk life for the sake of victims.
Then he debased everything that mattered. His anger towards rape was almost secondary to dismay that criminals used the woman first before the mayor did.
He was joking? Maybe. But he also used the same line earlier in his talk.
Cops who commit crimes for personal reasons deserve to be punished, he said. He made an example of a cop who kills his mistress – especially a pretty one — and implied the mayor should have first dibs on the beauty.
It’s not the first time he used that anecdote on the hostage-taking, ending with a similar line. Watch Noemi Dado’s video at the 38:43 marker.
You can slog through the entire Duterte speech, including some moving performances by Freddie Aguilar here.
And this admittedly moving paean to change. Which, indeed, this country needs.
We all should be outraged that the haves in this country get away with all kinds of abuses while the rest of us suffer indignities daily.
Yes, innocent people get killed and innocent people rot in jail. Hungry people are left to starve; when they protest, they die.
We all should rage.
But in cheering for Duterte’s warped logic, in playing blind to his contradictions, we might just visit more of the same on this nation.
Hunger that drives people to madness and despair is tragic. Ignoring needs of hungry folk and answering demands for food with a hail of bullets is criminal. Launching a parade of lies to defend the indefensible is obscene. It strips President Benigno Aquino’s government of legitimacy.
The President is missing in the face of crisis, as usual. His spokespersons and alter egos, and local stooges, swerve and lurch from one falsehood to another.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesman Wilben Mayor claimed cops didn’t carry guns. Photos show armed cops were there from the start of the protest.
Then the PNP said armed cops were sent because of the reported presence of rebels. They got a search warrant against the protesters’ church-owned sanctuary, but came out of the United Methodist Church compound with only one sports cap.
It didn’t surprise anyone who’d already seen video footage of the dispersal. The (pleasant) surprise was to find that some government officials remain committed to truth-telling.
Watch: Bullets for Rice by Kilab Multimedia
Suddenly, functionaries who had demanded the public wait for a government probe decided CHR Region 12 Director Erlan Deluvio. was not a person of authority.
The government ignored Deluvio and turned right to focus on a new tack: communists were to blame for “duping” the farmers.
Farmers didn’t know why they were there, said these spokespersons.
Who fed them? demanded Malacanang factotums and lapdogs. There would have been no protest if nobody fed and encouraged these poor farmers, they said.
Liberal party standard bearer Mar Roxas has joined the chorus, as if he didn’t see the outpouring of support for the Lumad he and his patron refused to help.
Filipinos responded to the callous spin with an outpouring of rice donations for the farmers.
Officials staged more tantrums. The donations were aimed at embarrassing the government, they said.
Cops barred food from reaching protesters. They also tried to bar lawyers, rights workers and kin from access to the wounded, even to the dead.
National Union of People’s Lawyers Edre Olalia said cops kept arrested protesters in a gym way beyond the legally prescribed time — and then, in the absence of a lawyer, made them sign away their rights.
Every right had to be fought for. In the city of Kidapawan, the Philippines has its first display of urban hamletting — mass illegal detention and denial of the most basic needs.
The government even tried to scare off local businesses. Tudla Productions reported on April 5:
Kidapawan City Councilor Lauro Taynan, Jr. recieved a call from a trader that 300 sacks of rice to be donated to farmers were held up in the warehouse for the police refused that the sacks be taken out. The sacks were purchased by Becky Vidanes, Robin Padilla’s manager.
The persistent outcry and appalled statements from multilateral agencies and international groups and most media outfits prompted an about face that finally allowed the flow of aid today.
But not before the most obscene act opened.
The budget secretary, responding to reports that it had slashed P2-billion off requested El Nino mitigating funds, said agencies had been told to source whatever was needed from the budgets for other programs.
It truly needs people living on a different plane of reality would think it is right to cut an urgent request in half, and then stealing funds from allocated programs to cover up.
That’s a shell game, pure and simple, using people’s money – and you wonder what they’re covering up because they’ve been throwing money left and right to their pet legislators and local government officials.
National government started an outpouring of technocratese to numb the debate. But one of the ruling coalition’s most powerful members decided spice things up by suddenly becoming a security spokesman for the government.
Prospero Alcala, President Aquino’s untouchable agriculture secretary – a slew of graft charges, his congressional slush fund ending up in ghost NGOs that used farmers without ever giving them the benefit of taxpayers’ monies – told media:
Things aren’t so bad; the communists only want it to sound bad, because they wanted a big shebang to celebrate the March 29 anniversary of the New People’s Army. The entire protest, says Alcala, was just a show. There wasn’t much hunger. There was, in fact a bumper crop.
That made for a collective puke heard around the country.
And that’s how you know it’s over, when the government starts botching up even the simplest rules of logic.
Government neglect and inefficiency and hubris were responsible for the Kidapawaan tragedy. Everything else that follows is just proof that this is a government without soul and, thus, without legitimacy. #30