KIDAPAWAN TRAGEDY

Alcala, Sarmiento, Marquez charged

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CHARGES of murder, frustrated and attempted murder, torture and physical injuries, illegal arrest and detention were filed by the Kidapawan farmers on Monday against government officials, police and military officers allegedly involved in a violent dispersal of protesters on April 1.

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The complaint was filed at the Office of the Ombudsman in Davao City.

The respondents include Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza and Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista, Philippine National Police chief Ricardo Marquez and regional and provincial officers, 39th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Arnold Argamosa and at least 78 other local government, police and military officials.

“Our struggle for food, land and justice is legitimate, and we will pursue justice in every possible way. We are not cowed by various sinister government attempts to harass and intimidate us and to cover up for these officials’ accountability. We filed this case as part of our continuing search for justice and battle against impunity,” Gerry Alborme, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)-North Cotabato spokesman, said.

The complainants also called for an investigation of officials for negligence and failure to put in place measures that could have mitigated effects of El Niño.

The victims were assisted by human rights lawyers from the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and Public Interest Law Center, and paralegals from Karapatan and Children’s Rehabilitation Center.

Ebao Sulang, father of slain farmer Darwin Sulang, said President Benigno Aquino 3rd had absolved the police for the crimes committed against the farmers.

“Mr. Aquino and his Liberal Party are employing all means to stop us from seeking accountability,” Sulang added.

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