Human rights lawyers slam N. Cotabato guv as ‘aristocratic mata pobre’
A group of human rights lawyers on Saturday criticized North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza as an “aristocratic mata pobre” over the bloody dispersal of protesting drought-stricken farmers in Kidapawan City that resulted in at least two deaths.
“In stubbornly justifying the pre-meditated attack on unarmed starving protesting farmers as a ‘clearing operation’ purportedly due to a lack of a permit to peaceably assemble which she is empowered to issue in the first place, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza exhibits unparalleled remorselessness, arrogance, and self-righteousness. By saying that the issue ‘is not about rice,’ she betrays herself as an aristocratic mata pobre,” Edre Olalia, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), said in a statement.
“She could have just curtly said to the hungry farmers and their families: ‘Let them eat bullets!’ with the panache of Marie Antoinette. As they say, ‘It’s all about rice, stupid,’” he added.
At least two farmers were dead and several others were wounded after the bloody dispersal of protesters at the Cotabato-Davao Highway in Kidapawan City on Friday. The farmers, who were demanding relief and subsidy for farm communities affected by the dry spell, said police authorities fired the first shot.
The Philippine National Police said it is investigating the incident, noting that some of its officers were also injured due to attacks allegedly from protesters.
Olalia described the dispersal as “plain cold-blooded murder” and a “disproportionate response of a powerfully bully over the powerless.”
Tension rose again between cops and farmers on Saturday morning as the authorities, backed by a search warrant for firearms, barged in the Methodist Church compound where the protesters have been staying in.
But Olalia said the search warrant appeared to be “dubious, irregular, and a fishing expedition,” adding that it was a way of security forces to “validate their illegal acts.”
“Such shotgun or general warrant is, therefore, not only illegal and invalid but is a continuing violation of human rights under the law, the Constitution & international conventions,” he said.
“Further, the reported illegal arrests that at least 45 men detained in a gym and 33 women in the pilot center is brazen impunity at its worst on top of whitewashing of cold blooded brutal murders and callous indifference by public officials who are sworn to protect and provide for the basic needs of its citizens. We will throw the book against these unrepentant aristocrats and fascists,” Olalia added. JE
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