CHR: File raps over Kidapawan dispersal
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - June 2, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has recommended the filing of criminal, civil and administrative charges against local government officials, law enforcement personnel, inquest prosecutors and protest organizers in connection with the violent dispersal of a farmers’ protest in Kidapawan City on April 1.

The CHR said yesterday it would forward its report to the Office of the Ombudsman and Department of Justice (DOJ) for preliminary investigation of those found liable for the violence that left two protesters dead and over a hundred farmers and police officers injured.

“Whatever violence may have come from the side of the protesters, there is no justifying the use by the Philippine National Police of firearms. It is clear that the PNP fired the first shot in a situation where they were not even supposed to bring guns,” the CHR said in a 46-page resolution.

“The principles of peaceful dispersal, negotiations and maximum tolerance prescribed under the PNP Operations Manual were not observed,” it added.

The CHR said the inquest prosecutors failed to review the charges and determine the validity of the warrantless arrests made by the police.

“Had the inquest prosecutors been more discerning, they could have easily established the unlikelihood of pregnant women and senior citizens assaulting police,” the resolution stated.

Right to food

The provincial government of North Cotabato and the Kidapawan City government failed in their duty to fulfill the right to food and freedom from hunger of the farmers, the CHR said.

“There was failure on the part of the provincial government to release and deliver food supplies to the farmer-protesters despite the availability of resources,” it said.

“Access to rice... was not timely addressed. Neither was a gradual nor prompt... sustainable response from the government felt by the farmer-protesters,” it added.

The CHR said protest organizers on the other hand, violated the right information of the farmers, citing the testimonies of some of them that they were promised to be given rice if they participate in the rally.

“To allow this to continue would be accept the practice of instrumentalization of the poor and the marginalized. People cannot be viewed as mere tools for the promotion of an agenda, propaganda or for a campaign,” it added.

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