Justice for Kidapawan victims, protesters!
The carnage in Kidapawan, Cotabato, last April 1 and the continuing harassment of the protesters and their supporters are deplorable.
Farmers and indigenous peoples who were severely affected by the El Ñino had peacefully assembled along the Kidapawan-Davao highway to seek government support for them and their families. Reportedly, they were just demanding a subsidy of 15,000 sacks of rice from the National Food Authority, free seedlings, higher crop prices, and military pull out from their communities.
To our mind, the demands were legitimate and well within the power of the government to grant. Farmers deserve support from their officials in times of crises; they have nobody else to turn to.
Ironically, instead of listening to their pleas, they were violently dispersed by the Philippine National Police. Latest reports say that as a result of the dispersal operation, three died, 116 were wounded, 89 are still missing, and two were tortured.
The local United Methodist Church, which responded by helping the victims of police brutality, is also being harassed.
The Ecumenical Bishops Forum cannot understand this government’s response to a legitimate people’s action. They were unarmed, yet they were met with live bullets.
Governing authorities are supposed to be God’s servants for the good of the people (Romans 13:1, 4). However, in the Kidapawan incident their response was the exact opposite as they became terrors to the people (Cf Romans 13:3).
In view of the above:
We demand accountability for the brutal police action against the Kidapawan protesters.
We call for an independent investigation by a competent authority to determine accountabilities.
We demand punishment for those who will be found criminally responsible and guilty.
We seek justice for the victims of this unconscionable act against the people.
Let God’s justice and peace reign in our hapless land!
—BISHOP ELMER M. BOLOCON, UCCP, executive secretary; MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S. IÑIGUEZ JR., DD, cochair; BISHOP FELIXBERTO L. CALANG, IFI, cochair, Ecumenical Bishops Forum
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