Sister seeks help in finding body of rally dispersal victim | Inquirer News
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Sister seeks help in finding body of rally dispersal victim

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines—Arlyn Daelto burst into tears as she told actor Robin Padilla and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares that she had not seen the body of her brother, Rotello  Daelto, nearly 30 hours after he was killed in the violent police dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City on Friday.

“Please help me, sir. Please find my brother’s body so we can take care of it,” Arlyn, 44, said between sobs.

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Padilla and Colmenares on Saturday visited the Methodist compound in Kidapawan, where several hundred farmers, among them indigenous people from different parts of  North Cotabato province, had taken refuge after the dispersal.

Padilla listened intently as Arlyn spoke.

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Eduardo Daelto, a younger brother of Arlyn, said Rotello’s body was taken by the police to an undetermined location.

“We have not seen it up to now,” Eduardo said.

Arlyn said they had been told that Rotello’s body was in one of the  hospitals in Kidapawan, but they were afraid they would be arrested if they leave the Methodist compound.

Ariel Casilao, vice chair of Anakpawis, said his group had checked the funeral parlors in the city but failed to find Rotello’s body and those of two other protesters who were killed in the dispersal, Victor Lumandag and Enrico Pabrica.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said she had been told that the police had the bodies and could not be released as they were undergoing medicolegal examination.

Rotello Daelto was single and had been caring for his parents, Julita Daelto, 78, and Vicente Daelto, 87. He had a small farm in Arakan town.

“He used to have good harvest and sustained our parents. But when the drought struck, he had nothing more to feed them. We, the other siblings,  are farmers, too, and we also ran out of food because of the drought,” Eduardo, 49, said.

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“Is it wrong to ask for help?” Arlyn said, referring to their decision to join the farmers’ protest that started on Monday.

She said it never occurred to her that the protest, which was joined by 6,000 farmers from different parts of the province, would end in violence.

“All we wanted was to bring home something for our families to eat. That was also why Rotello came here with us,” Eduardo said.

When told that the government might listen to their call for assistance if they gathered with other farmers in Kidapawan, Rotello agreed to join the protest, he said.

Like Rotello, he said, the rest of the protesters were peacefully demanding assistance from the provincial government, but they got bullets instead.

“They trampled on our rights,” he said, referring to the police action.

Eduardo said the protesters were helpless against the armed police.

“I was among those who were able to flee,” he said, adding the policemen pursued the protesters although they were already inside the church compound.

Padilla said he was saddened by what happened. “We are just fighting for our rights, but what happened? It is just right to fight for our rights,” he said.

He assured the protesters he would help bring their plight to the attention of the national government. “I will also look for ways to help you, even in small ways,” he said, drawing cheers from the farmers.

Colmenares said he would introduce a resolution in the House of Representatives on Monday for an inquiry into the violent dispersal of the farmers’ protest.

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TAGS: Arlyn Daelto, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Kidapawan City, Robin Padilla, Rotello Daelto
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