Militants’ complaint: PNP harassing 9 Belgian exposurists
The left-leaning fishermen alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday slammed the Philippine National Police in Cavite province for harassing 9 Belgian exposurists currently being hosted by Pamalakaya-Timog Katagalugan, Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog.
The nine Belgian nationals belonged to the Brussels-based International Action for Liberation (Intal) were here on a two week exposure trip to conduct a research on the impact of the poverty alleviation projects funded by the European governments, including the $ 62 million European aid granted by the 27 member states of the European Union..
The Belgians were led by Stefanie Devloo, coordinator of Intal, a solidarity network group investigating the impact of European funded projects in developing countries like the Philippines.
According to reports sent by Pamalakaya-ST, Kasama-ST and Bayan-ST to Pamalakaya national headquarters in Quezon City, the nine Belgian nationals yesterday joined the 6-day long march against Charter Change to demand the Macapagal-Arroyo to account for the projects which the European Union funded but failed to promote the welfare of the farmer and fisherfolk beneficiaries due to rampant corruption in the government.
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap recalled that yesterday afternoon, the 9 Belgians together with the 500 marchers mainly farmers, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous people and workers from Mindoro Island, Batangas and Cavite were stopped in Imus town because the PNP Cavite wanted to take pictures and the names of the Belgian activists and bring all of them to the Imus police station.
After a long stand off, the PNP Imus police finally allowed the marchers to proceed only to be blocked again this time in Bacoor town by the PNP provincial police force. As of 9 am today, the marchers are still in Bacoor negotiating with the police to proceed on their way to the National Capital Region to join the big anti-GMA rally on Monday, on the occasion of the President’s 9th and supposedly the last State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Hicap said the police still insisted in taking the pictures and names of 9 Belgian nationals and they want to arrest the Belgian exposurists for joining the rally.
“Our Belgian friends joined the long march because they want to document and conduct interviews among the rural people participants on the impact of European projects in the country and why it failed to serve its purpose mainly due to rampant corruption in the Arroyo government. Nothing is unlawful or immoral about that. But the PNP upon orders from higher ups is persecuting and harassing our Belgian solidarity friends,” said Hicap.
Long march organizers insisted that the Belgians have the right to join the protest because as European taxpayers whose money were granted to the Philippine government for poverty alleviation projects were misspent or squandered by officials of Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
“The 9 Belgians have the right to demand accountability from Ms Arroyo’s end,” said Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo.
“Imagine, millions of Euro dollars coming from hardworking European nationals are being spent not to improve the lives of intended beneficiaries, but to finance Arroyo’s fetish for grand-scale corruption and greed for political power. Arroyo’s accountability is not only limited to the Filipino people but to the international community as well,” Lacandazo added.
The Kasama-TK spokesperson said they are planning to bring the case of the 9 Belgian nationals to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Atty. Lilia de Lima. Lacandazo said the documents pertaining to the PNP harassment will be readied soon for possible filing of violations of human rights cases against members of the PNP provincial police.
Last week, the Belgians joined the swim protest staged by Pamalakaya in Bacoor against the ongoing reclamation and the R-1 Expressway Extension Project of the Office of the President, the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). #