Police prepare charges vs Kidapawan rally leaders
MANILA, Philippines – Police are preparing charges against 5 leaders of the Kidapawan protest rally that killed at least two people and hurt over a hundred others.
Criminal charges are being prepared against the following over the illegal protest action, according to a military report.
- Pedro Arnado, Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas
- Jerome Aba, Suara Bangsamoro
- Norma Capuyan, Aspo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa North Cotabato
- Lito Roxas, FTF
- Mary Joy Mirasol, PCPR
The report said that Police Chief Inspector Patrick Kalinga, Kidapawan police officer-in-charge, was preparing the criminal charges against the "identified leaders of the groups that organized the illegal protest action."
The regional trial court in Kidapawan City also issued a search warrant on April 1 – the day of the bloody incident – against Spottswood Methodist Center, citing "probable cause and good reasons to believe that firearms are being kept" in the facilities in its compound.
The search was carried out on Saturday.
2 killed, 116 hurt
According to the Philippine National Police, two protesters were killed during the dispersal of the human barricade along the Cotabato-Davao Road in Kidapawan City on Friday, April 1.
The PNP said 116 were hurt during the scuffle – 23 protesters and 93 policemen. Sixteen people were confined in the hospital for further treatment.
Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento and PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez are due to fly into the city to check the situation. The government had vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the "tragic incident."
Police said about 3,000 protesters blocked the Davao-Cotabato Highway starting Wednesday, March 30, to demand government assistance in the wake of the effects of drought in the area. (Organizers put the number of protesters at 5,000.)
The PNP said the permit to rally lapsed Friday morning. The highway protest that began 6 am March 30 brought together farmers, members of indigenous groups, and other cause-oriented groups.
The Kidapawan City police dispersed the protest shortly before 11 am Friday and shot at the farmers, according to Kilab Multimedia on its Facebook page.
Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista earlier said the farmers were demanding that North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza release 15,000 sacks of rice to them, but Mendoza reportedly refused to talk to them.
Mendoza clarified that she refused to speak with the protesters as the rice assistance from the provincial government is intended only for the province's farmer-residents affected by the drought.
Some of those who participated in the rally reportedly came from other provinces, as they were told that they would get a sack of rice from the governor. – Rappler.com