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Bulacan priest cries harassment by police

09:29 PM September 16, 2011

CITY OF MALOLOS—A priest cried harassment on Friday when the Obando police allegedly dismantled a makeshift stage at the patio of the town church where he was supposed to hold a concert denouncing the construction of a sanitary landfill in that town.

The commercial landfill is being put up in abandoned fishponds on the island village of Binuangan in Obando.

Fr. Vince Hizon, Obando parish priest, said he had been campaigning against the project for two months now because Binuangan fishermen, who rely on the town’s rivers for livelihood and food, believe the landfill would contaminate the rivers.

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The Meycauayan-Marilao-Obando River system had been classified as one of the world’s dirtiest rivers.

Hizon said he organized the patio concert. But Chief Insp. Lorenzo Paynor, Obando police chief, stopped the event.

“We were told that if we pushed through with that concert, the organizer would be arrested and jailed,” the priest said.

Because of the threat, Hizon said he and the members of the church choir held their concert inside the Obando Church instead.

“The concert involved groups of youths who are against the Binuangan landfill. They were told that they did not have a permit so we could not hold the concert on the church patio,” the priest said.

Paynor did not respond to Inquirer calls.

But Senior Supt. Fernando Mendez, acting Bulacan police director, said based on his investigation, the Obando police had simply followed orders because church officials could not show them a copy of their permit to hold the concert.

Hizon said he was apprehensive because the antilandfill protesters are mounting a rally on Monday and they do not know how Paynor would treat them.

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He said certain Obando officials had also warned him that any display of placards condemning the landfill project could cause his arrest. He said the concert had drawn them more public support, after they announced how the local police treated them. Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon

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TAGS: Bulacan, harassment, Obando, Police, sanitary landfill
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