DILG to probe ‘police harassment’ of onion farmer’s widow
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will be investigating the alleged police harassment of a widowed farmer in Pangasinan who earlier appeared in a Senate inquiry into the soaring prices of onions.
The DILG said its chief Benjamin Abalos Jr. has ordered their offices in the Ilocos Region and Pangasinan to look into the allegations and submit a report about the Bayambang municipal police purportedly harassing Merlita Gallardo.
Gallardo had claimed before the Senate committee on agriculture, food and agrarian reform last week that five farmers in their town, including her husband Roger, committed suicide due to losses in onion farming.
“Sa pagsasagawa nila ng imbestigasyon, pinaalalahanan sila ni Abalos na sundin ang rule of law at ang mga established protocols upang maiwasan ang pagdulot ng anumang pangamba sa mga residente,” the DILG said in a statement on Sunday.
(By conducting this investigation, Abalos is reminding the police to follow the rule of law and the established protocols to avoid stirring fears among its residents.)
Abalos said they would furnish the public, as well as the office of Sen. Imee Marcos–who first sounded the alarm on the alleged harassment of Gallardo, with the results of their investigation.
“Mataas ang respeto namin sa mga magsasaka dahil mahalaga ang papel na ginagampanan nila sa seguridad ng pagkain at maayos na nutrisyon ng ating bansa,” he added.
(We have high respect for farmers, because they play an important role in ensuring food security and proper nutrition in the country.)
Marcos earlier called out Bayambang policemen for supposedly visiting Gallardo five times and forcing her to sign an affidavit which states that her testimony at the hearing was false.
READ: Senator hits ‘harassment’ of onion farmer’s widow
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is likewise conducting its own investigation on the incident.
PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. has since apologized “for the misunderstanding that the police have caused during their interview with Nanay Merlita.”
He clarified that the affidavit police had wanted Gallardo to sign was for documentation purposes and was not intended to force her to recant her statement before the Senate panel.
Senator hits ‘harassment’ of onion farmer’s widow
Pangasinan PNP probes Bayambang cops’ ‘harassment’ of onion farmer’s widow
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.