ZAMBOANGA CITY: Some 3,000 mostly farmers and tribesmen held a rally outside a military base in Davao City in southern Philippines and protested alleged widespread militarization and human rights violations in Mindanao.
The protesters also demanded the resignation of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and accused him of being the brains behind the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, which was declared as unconstitutional and illegal by the Supreme Court.
The rally—on the eve of President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on Monday—was held outside the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters and although peaceful was well-guarded by policemen. The rallyists carried streamer and placards denouncing human rights violations by the military.
The protesters vowed to hold more street rallies to bring to the attention of the public various issues from scandals in the government to abuses by troops on civilians.
Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, dismissed all accusations against the military and branded them as communist propaganda. He said the rallyists should protest the widespread human rights violations and killings of innocent civilians by the communist rebel group New People’s Army.
“They [protesters]are mistaken and the military and the police and the democratic government are protecting the people, the civilians like them and they should protest the abuses committed by the NPA rebels who kill innocent civilians, attack private enterprises, extort money from the poor and robbed our people of their precious freedom and democracy,” Caber said.