(UPDATE2) 10 injured in House Speaker’s ordered dispersal
by Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times and Roy Morilla, contributor
Manila, Philippines- 10 peasant activists were seriously injured, while scores of other militants were harmed during a violent dispersal ordered by House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
In an interview with the Pamalakaya Times, Danilo Ramos, secretary general of the leftist farmer group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) identified the victims as Antonio Flores, spokesperson of KMP, KMP staff Marlyn Marbella, Nnara-Youth activist Rommel Forbes and 6 more activists from Southern Tagalog region including 15-year old Jeffrey Duran of Anakbayan-Cavite, who suffered bone fractures in the lower left leg.
The peasant leader said the demolition of the 40-day old camp-out and the dispersal of activists camping by the gates of Batasan Complex were authored by Speaker Nograles in conspiracy with House secretary general Atty. Marilyn Yap, House sergeant at arms Gen. Hortacio Lactao and Isabelito Flores, executive director of Legislative Security Bureau.
“The act of state terror against farmers holding a peaceful demonstration and legitimate exercise of their constitutionally mandated rights was led by the Speaker of the House. What a shame on Nograles’ part, being a former human rights lawyer during the Marcos dictatorship,” said Ramos.
The KMP secretary general said Nograles and three House officials acted in bad faith, adding that there was an agreement which was not honored by the House leader and security officials regarding the conduct of camp-out.
“The agreement was for us to occupy the left side of the camp-out and self-dismantle the right side of the camp-out. We complied to the agreement. But still they went on with their terrorist escapade against the farmers,” added Ramos.
The KMP, together with the fishers’ alliance Pamalakaya and the Southern Tagalog-based Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) will file complaints of human rights violations against Nograles, Lactao, Yap and Flores next week before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday.
For her part, KMP vice chairperson and Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo said the filing of human rights complaints against Nograles and top house security officials will be done on Monday. “We will go the CHR and file this highly explosive charges of human rights violations against Nograles and other stooges of the ruling national security syndicate in Malacañang,” she said.
According to Lacandazo, she received an information that Nograles wants her group, KMP and Pamalakaya demolished by the gates of the House of Representatives, because they are pro-Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB), and the House Speaker wants peasant groups who are in favor of CARP extension with reforms (Carper) bill to be in Congress next week, because the House leadership is set to pass the extension bill.
“We were dispersed because we are pro-GARB and anti-Carper. Speaker Nograles wants a red carpet welcome for Carper and he does not want our groups to be there because we might spoil his super roadshow project for Carper,” the Kasama-TK spokesperson said.
After the dispersal, the protesters proceeded to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) where they constructed a temporary camp-out. But organizers said they will try to restore the camp-out at the gates of House of Representatives anytime next week.
After the protesters left Batasan, the House leadership commissioned construction workers to put up railings to prevent future camp out.
In an radio interview, Speaker Nograles said KMP has the right to file human rights charges against him and other top security officials of the House. However, the Davao City lawmaker said Congress has the right to protect the institution, that’s why he ordered the demolition of the tents and the dispersal of camping farmers.
“We are not terrorists nor military mercenaries paid by the government to attack people and communities. We just want genuine land reform,” the KMP said in response to Nograles’ statement.#