PARAÑAQUE City, April 2, 2016 – The Redemptorist Vice Province of Manila has spoken out against the treatment by police forces of some 6,000 protesting farmers in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato that left one dead and at least a dozen more hurt Friday, April 1, saying “such criminal acts are unacceptable and demand urgent enforcement of justice.”
“We cannot accept that what you give to those who are hungry is an offer to voluntarily dismantle and disperse their barricade. It is indefensible that when the farmers assert their rights it is okay for the police to simply transform into a murderous frenzy (for they cannot stomach the rights of others),” it said in a collective statement.
“What happened then in North Cotabato is a murderous and criminal act done by the police officers of the government. And, we join the victims in their demand for justice,” it added.
Through its Justice and Peace-Integrity of Creation (JPIC) commission, the congregation denounced strongly the “unwarranted use of force” in dispersing those who were just asserting their rights for food.
It explained: “They were pleading and asking the government to save them from starvation but what did they get instead—deaths (to all of them as much as possible) and countless other forms of police brutality. They were hungry, not because of their doings but due the long running effects of global warming that the extractive and exploitative market economy is mainly responsible.”
The Redemptorists further criticized the law enforcers involved for putting the welfare of motorists above that of starving peasants.
“We do not understand that the police are far more concerned with the inconvenience of the motorists who sit behind their wheel body and spirit intact. Why do they have to inquire about ‘written permit’ exactly a time when the farmers (and their dependents) may not even last for a couple of days,” they continued.
According to the Redemptorists, it is “very unfair” of the police to think the farmers were stubbornly holding their ground under the scorching heat of the sun just to catch attention for themselves and gain media coverage.
Moreover, they lamented the speed with which police officers tagged the farmers, who were merely asking for food in the right and proper manner, as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)