House Speaker faces HR raps

Violent dispersal of peasant activists
House speaker faces charges of human rights raps

Manila, Philippines-Anti-CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) groups led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the leftwing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the Southern Tagalog-based Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) will file complaints of human rights violations against House Speaker Prospero Nograles and top security officials of the lower chamber in connection with the violent dispersal last Friday.

Aside from Nograles, KMP, Kasama-TK and Pamalakaya will also file violations of human rights before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against House Secretary General Atty. Marilyn Yap, Sergeant-at-Arms Brig. Gen. Hortacio Lactao, Legislative Security Bureau executive director Isabelito Flores and the police and security guards who took part in the violent dispersal last Friday.

Reports filed by the human rights group Tanggol Magsasaka said at around 2:30 pm members of the demolition team composed of special action force and security guards under the LSB hosed down the activists defending the camp-out and proceeded in ripping down the structure. The dispersal came at the time Anakpawis party list Reps. Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod were negotiating with Gen. Lactao.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the camp-out protest was peaceful and the rural people were exercising their democratic rights, but the House leadership under Speaker Nograles and the office of the House secretary general acted in bad faith.

“We were told to remove the right side of the camp-out to allow the people to see the seal of the House of Representatives. We followed that agreement. It seems the militarist quartet of Nograles, Yap, Lactao and Flores were all determined to remove the camp out and terrorize the peasant activists, that’s why they did not honor the agreement and went on with their extreme project of state brutality and state fascism against the well organized and principled farmers and fisherfolk,” said Ramos.

Pamalakaya vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France said the number of protesting farmers and fisherfolk were 150 mostly women, children and elderly people.

During the dispersal, 9 people were seriously injured and brought to East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City. The injured activists were identified as Antonio Flores, 60, spokesperson of KMP, Marlyn Marbella, staff of KMP, Rommel Forbes, 18, of Nnara-Youth, Oscar Lapida Jr., 47, of Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog, Merly Ortega of Calatagan, Batangas, Jeffrey Duran, 15 of Cavite, Ronnel Arambulo, 27, member of Pamalakaya-Rizal, Biboy Nayve, 16 and Roldan Padit, 21, members of Anakbayan-Cavite.

“The violent dispersal of rural people as authored and orchestrated by Nograles and his company of political charlatans and militarist hooligans certifies that the House of Representatives is not the House of people’s representatives, but House of agents of state terrorism,” France added.

The Pamalakaya leader said they are studying the possibility of bringing the case before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) based in Geneva where the same complaints would be filed against Speaker Nograles and company.

“We will teach the Speaker and his attack dogs lessons of a lifetime,” France said.

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 group to be there because we might spoil his super roadshow project for Carper,” the Kasama-TK spokesperson said.

“Are they afraid of the GARB? There’s nothing wrong about HB 3059. GARB cannot go wrong because its’ real agenda is to achieve social justice for the farmers across the country,” the groups said.

Last Wednesday, the house committee on agrarian reform chair by Rep. Elias Bulut Jr. (Apayao) began its hearing on HB 3059.

KMP’s Lacandazo added: “Let the farmers and the Filipino public decide which between GARB and Carper is genuine, and which between the two bills is bogus, pro-landlord and anti-farmer. Let’s have the debate. If members of this August chamber are afraid of GARB and they prefer Carper, and such could be the reason why they dismantled our camp-out and dispersed us like there would be no tomorrow.” #

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