Of Rice, Bullets and Injustice
A woman detainee narrates her experience in the Kidapawan killings
11 April 2016
“Nakita na ko ang among tiyo na napusil, daghang dugo ang iyang naong pero wala kami natabang, nag-dagan ang mga mangunguma, ginapusil kami ng mga pulis.” (We saw our uncle hit by bullets, blood spurting all-over his face, but we couldn’t help him. [We] couldn’t go back. Everyone was running and we were also running for safety as the police were shooting at us.)
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This is how Majobie Bogwat, 24, recalls her experience during the violent dispersal of the farmers protest on April 1, 2016 at Kidapawan, North Cotabato that left a farmer and a passerby dead. Speaking mostly in Visayan mixed with a few Manobo words, Majorie babbles while narrating the details of the incident. Her face is painted with anger but she tried to hold back her tears as she told CTUHR during the National Fact Finding Mission on April 5, 2016 why she joined the protest, how she was arrested and detained without her knowledge.
Majobie is from Binuongan, Arakan, North Cotabato . She is currently detained at the Kidapawan Convention Hall together with 24 other women. She is currently facing raps of direct assault upon person of authority filed by several police personnel.
Drought and hunger
Majobie, 24, in detention in Kidapawan City after the dispersal of protesting farmers last April 1.
Back in her village, Majobie said there had been no harvest for the last six months. The crops they planted like rice, corn and vegetables have all died since November 2015 because of the El Nino drought. Even banana leaves have turned yellow. Since then, her family has survived only from eating cassava and coconut. But towards the end of January, the cassava began to taste bitter. They feared they might be poisoned. So she started feeding her children with coconut, but coconut also became scarce as the weeks of dry spell went on. Once a week, she would give her children porridge.
As though it was the first time she realized the gravity of their misery, Majobie cringed when she shared, “I cry every time my children, asked me, ‘Naa na ba tang pagkaon, Ma?’ (Ma, do we have food).” Majobie has three children, the eldest of is nine and youngest is four.
Fighting for survival
To Majorie, the situation was desperate, thus when she learned from neighbors and relatives that farmers are going to Kidapawan City to ask for rice from the Governor, she volunteered to join. She left her children with her other siblings. Her cousin, uncles and aunties also joined the protest.
On March 28, she arrived at Kidapawan City with other farmers from her village. The next day, they went out of the United Methodist Church and began their protest outside. They were blocked by the police but thousands of protesters stayed in the area. She too joined in shouting “Bugas, dili Bala, dili Pulis” (Rice, not bullets, not Police!). Come evening, like other farmers, she too slept on the highway.
On March 31, Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista went to the barricade and told them that the Governor has not made any decision as she was still in Manila. On that night, they were roused from sleep by police announcements on loud speaker.
The following day, April 1, at around 10AM, the police gave warning that the farmers will only be allowed to stay along the highway for five minutes. As they made the warning, police lines also advanced from their position, coming face-to-face with the farmers. Next came the water cannons, then stones hurled at them by the police. In a few moments, gunshots were heard and the protesting farmers had to run for safety.
Majobie, her cousin Ederlyn Daelto, 18, and their other relatives got separated from the rest of the crowd. Then she saw her uncle from a distance. She heard someone shouted “uncle nimo nabaril’ (your uncle got shot) but they have to go on running for cover until they reached a retail store.
“Gusto nakong mubalik para mabal-an kung unsa natabo sa among uncle, pero na’ay usa ka tao na nag-ingon na dili kami magbalik, dili safety,” (I wanted to go back to know what happened to my uncle, but a stranger told us not to go back, it was not safe), Majobie said.
The same stranger gave them P100 and told them to take a tricycle. The police came after them and told them to go the Convention Hall where a white vehicle #138 will be waiting to bring them back to the village.
Deceit and detention
The tricycle brought them to the Convention Hall. But they did not find the white vehicle. Instead, the police took them inside the hall, gave them food and water. Afterwards, they asked to be allowed to go outside to check on their uncle. The police accompanied them. They were given only five minutes to search the area.
They only managed to reach the corner street at the back of the Convention Hall until the police dragged them back. They waited patiently for the vehicle. Afterwards, they were photographed and their fingerprints were taken. That evening, they saw on television their uncle Rodelio Daelto, 33, bloodied. At the time, they didn’t know if he survived.
Majobie had no clue that she was already being arrested. She has no idea and has nothing to say about the accusation that rebels infiltrated the protests. On their second day in the Convention Hall, she noticed they were barred from going out, the television set was removed and policemen were guarding them. That was the only time she realized they were being held in detention.
“Nga-no man gipreso kami, wala man kami ginahimong sala. Nangayo kami bugas, gihatagan kami bala, (Why are we being detained, we did nothing wrong, we are only asking for rice, and they gave us bullets!),” Majobie said rapidly in Bisaya.
As though to emphasize her point, she exclaimed in Tagalog, “Hindi kami tamad, hindi kami rebelde! (We are not lazy. We are not rebels”) then in Bisaya, she continued, “Lisod kaayo ang epekto sang hulaw.” (The effects of drought are really difficult).
Ederlyn Daelto, 18, Majobie’s cousin and niece of Rodelio Daelto lay quietly on the floor. Not a word did she utter. Instead, she nodded slightly to confirm that names written by the interviewer were right. Ederlyn’s father is also inside the UMC compound.
Surviving the carnage
CTUHR and the Fact finding Team, asked around what happened to Rodelio. He was hit on the face, his jaw was broken, the bullets passed through above his nape. Ederlyn’s father, Eduardo Daelto, said that even with gunshot wounds, Rodelio attempted to help others during the dispersal until he fell unconscious. Rodelio was brought to hospital in Kidapawan and then transferred to Davao City. He luckily survived and is already conscious.
But Majobie, 24 other women and 45 men are still detained in Kidapawan gym and Convention Hall. They were slapped with charges of direct assault upon person of authority filed by several police personnel. At the inquest on April 4, the prosecutor asked them questions and later told them to pay P12,000 each as bail which was later lowered to P2,000 each. The charge was not explained and did not understand what assault exactly meant.
Like other women in detention, Majobie asked that they be released immediately, their case be dismissed, the rice subsidy be given to farmers so they can go home to their families.###
For reference: Daisy Arago, CTUHR Executive Director, 0916-248-2876
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