Food not Bullets, Justice not Violence
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) strongly condemns the extrajudicial killings committed against protesting farmers and indigenous peoples by authorities in Kidapawan last April 1, 2016. We call for an independent investigation in order to hold those accountable, jail the perpetrators, and give justice to all victims of government-perpetrated violence.
There are no acceptable reasons, be it a suspected infiltration nor aggression, that would justify the use of guns and violence by government forces to quash the protest that killed three, while many were badly injured, arrested, and manhandled.
In the first place, the people of El Nino-stricken areas’ legitimate demand for government to solve hunger merits immediate action; and in its absence, they have the right to seek redress and remedy. The neglect and inaction of concerned agencies caused the farmers to manifest their demands and hold a protest action that led to this tragic event.
Not only the protesters’ freedom of assembly, expression, and speech were assaulted, their right to life which is non-derogable or a right that cannot be compromised at any time was blatantly violated. What happened was a massacre, an overkill where all involved must be held accountable.
The authorities’ actions were non-compliant to the maximum tolerance policy of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in handling protest actions such as this. PNP standard rules prohibit the carrying of firearms by policemen within 100 meters from the demonstration. Authorities always have the greater responsibility for keeping the peace and not breaking it.
May we remind the government of their obligation to fulfill, respect, and protect at all times human rights of the people. These obligations reside on their shoulders as duty bearers, and victims have all the right to claim and act for their rights.
Government’s failure to resolve and diligently act on problems caused by El Nino combined with corruption and politicking were the root causes of all these. Violence will never answer hunger. It not only worsened the situation of the victims, but exposes more how the government perpetuates violence and injustice.
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in The Philippines (AMRSP).
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