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Compostela Valley aid rally leaders charged

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10:18 PM January 29th, 2013

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January 29th, 2013 10:18 PM

DAVAO CITY—Police have filed charges against organizers of the Jan. 15 protest rally by more than 5,000 typhoon victims in Montevista, Compostela Valley, who are demanding more aid and a stop to logging.

Senior Supt. Camilo Cascolan, officer in charge of the Compostela Valley police office, said eight individuals identified as organizers of the protest rally have been charged with public disorder and other offenses at the municipal prosecutor’s office.

The other cases filed against the eight are alarm and scandal, public disturbance and “unlawful utterances,” said Cascolan.

He said while police are sympathizing with the protesters, they could not turn a blind eye on the illegal assembly.

The protesters had also demanded the cancellation of all logging licenses in Compostela Valley.

“Their means are wrong. If you violate the law, then you must be arrested,” Cascolan said.

The rally was capped by a barricade that paralyzed traffic on the highway that leads to other areas hit by Typhoon “Pablo.”

The barricade stalled the delivery of relief goods to other areas hit by Pablo for more than 10 hours, forcing Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Compostela Valley Gov. Arturo Uy to negotiate with the protesters.

After several failed attempts, which ended in a shouting match between Soliman and the protesters, the local government and the DSWD agreed to some of the demands, including the delivery of more food packages.

Shortly before midnight, the DSWD sent at least 1,900 packs of food and 100 sacks of rice to the protesters, along with a letter from Soliman promising 10,000 more bags of rice.

This convinced the protesters to call off the rally and lift the barricade.

Cascolan said those charged were Carlos Trangia, Bello Timdasan and Grace Curso from the group Barug Katawhan; Juland Suazo from environmentalist group Panalipdan; Sheena Duazo of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan; Tony Salubre of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa of Balsa Mindanao and Lenny Camino.

Barug Katawhan assailed the police for filing the charges saying it was “an attack against thousands of typhoon victims, who deserve a sustainable environment and equitable relief services and not harassment.”

Barug Katawhan said its lawyers are now preparing counteraffidavits, and  are prepared to “confront this legal harassment.” Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao

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