TAGUM CITY — A progressive lawmaker on Tuesday has asked the House of Representatives to investigate the violent and bloody dispersal of starving farmers in Kidapawan City last April 1.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares filed House resolution no. 2685 to condemn these outright human rights violations and immediately probe the Kidapawan incident.
“Congress must not allow justice to elude the Kidapawan farmers similar to the Mendiola Massacre and Hacienda Luisita Massacre years ago. There is also a need to investigate how the funds allotted for calamity and assistance to farmers affected by El Niño were spent as part of its oversight function,” Colmenares said in a resolution co-authored with Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
Through House Resolution No. 2685, Colmenares asked the Committees on Public Order and Safety, Human Rights and Agriculture to “conduct a joint investigation in aid of legislation on the failure of the Aquino government to adequately respond to the severe effects of El Niño and the violent and bloody dispersals of starving farmers exercising their right to peaceably assemble and air their grievances.”
Colmenares was coming from the findings released by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) XII which said that the police violated human rights when they shot the farmers who were already on their knees.
Citing CHR XI Regional Director Edlan Deluvio, Colmenares said the failure of the government to provide farmers with food amid severe hunger is already a human rights violation.
Colmenares claims that protesting farmers did not receive any assistance, despite the fact that the North Cotabato local government has it its disposal the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund (LDRRMF), which is 5% of their Internal Revenue Allocation or about P320 million.
“The farmers’ demand for 15,000 sacks of rice, would only cost an estimated PHP 30 million pesos, which would not even reach 10 percent of the Department of Agriculture’s and National Irrigation Administration’s Quick Response Funds of PHP 500 million each for 2016, which was only released this March 2, 2016. The PHP 923.4 million Seed Buffer fund was only released this March 2016,” the progressive lawmaker pointed out.
Colmenares claims that the farmers who took refuge in the United Methodist Church in Cotabato were continually harassed by PNP even after the bloody dispersal.
“There were reports of food blockade and violation of the farmers’ free movement while the media were barred from entering the church. The injured farmers in the hospitals were reportedly handcuffed, while the 78 arrested included minors. Some of the police wounded during the violent dispersal was even awarded medals by DILG Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento,” he said. (davaotoday.com)