CHR releases Kidapawan Report

CHR releases Kidapawan Report

CHR RELEASES KIDAPAWAN REPORT

LGU, PNP, Prosecutors and Protest-Organizers at fault;
Financial assistance for injuredfarmers and police officers to be provided.

M A Y 30, 2016 – The Commission on Human Rights today released its official findings on the tragic April 1, 2016 Kidapawan Incident, which left two protesters dead, two police officers seriously wounded, and one hundred seventy nine farmers and police officers injured.

In its 46-page report, the CHR detailed the series of events that led to the violent dispersal of at least three thousand protesters at the Kidapawan-Davao Highway in Kidapawan City, Cotabato. The report identified the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) as among the principal organizers of the protest rally that blocked the main highway for three days. The report took note of the fact that the protest was prompted by the farmers’ demand for rice from the government, their harvest having been affected by the drought due to E l Nino, and the failure on the part of the Cotabato provincial government to ”release and deliver food supplies to the farmers-protesters despite the availability of resources. “ The CHR cited the failure of the provincial government as duty-bearer to protect & promote the right to food & freedom from hunger of the farmersprotesters as rights-holders, as the root cause of the protest action.

On the other hand, the CHR also found evidence that a number of the farmers-protesters were ”induced to join the protest action through deceit by the organizers and ‘unknown persons’.” The organizers were also found to have unnecessarily exposed the farmers-protesters to the violent consequences of their actions. The CHR minced no words in condemning the “instrumentalization” of the poor and vulnerable by ideological groups for their own agenda and called for an end to this practice.

The investigation by the CHR found that the violence erupted after the PNP started dispersing the crowd which had already managed to block the highway for several days. The protesters then retaliated by throwing rocks and pieces of wood at the PNP formation. The PNP personnel were eventually overrun by the protesters and had to retreat, leaving some of their numbers at the mercy of the protesters.

Violence was not limited to members of the dispersal team alone, according to the report. The violent act of protesters that left two police officers battling for their lives was strongly condemned. Video footages showed protesters pouncing on two fallen-policemen, repeatedly hitting them with wooden clubs. The CHR called for the investigation of all persons who committed violent acts during the tragic incident.

The report found that excessive force was used by the PNP against the farmers-protesters, contrary to protocols prescribed in the police operations manual. Evidence gathered showed that “the PNP fired the first (gun) shot.” Worse, the arrest and detention of farmers-protesters were attended by excessive and unjustified force, which it said must be investigated and responsible persons, prosecuted.

The CHR will be granting financial assistance to the families of 2 victims who were killed and 10 who were injured including the 3 police officers during the ill-fated protest action.

The CHR also called to task the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Cotabato, particularly the Inquest Prosecutors, who failed
to properly exercise their mandate in determining probable cause in the arrest of the 81 fanners by the police in the aftermath of the protest. The report pointed out that, “had the inquest prosecutors been more discerning, they (w)ould have easily established the unlikelihood of pregnant women and senior citizens assaulting police officer (s).”

The CHR’s Kidapawan Report shall be endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice.

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CHR Contact Person: ATTY . FLORA C. ATILANO – Legal and Investigation Office
Telephone Number: (02) 928-08-73
Email Address: flora_atilano@yahoo.com

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