UN asked to probe Kidapawan bloodshed
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Human rights group Karapatan has filed a complaint at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) against the North Cotabato provincial government for failure to come to the aid of farmers pleading for food to tide them over the drought caused by El Niño.
The group also named as respondents in the complaint police officers allegedly involved in the violent dispersal of a protest rally on April 1 that the farmers launched amid their failure to get aid.
At least two farmers and a bystander were killed and dozens of others were either injured or arrested in the aftermath of the dispersal operation that saw policemen firing their guns at some 6,000 protesters.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said the complaint has been submitted via e-mail to UNHRC over the weekend and affidavits of some of the farmers had been attached.
Also attached to the complaint are findings of a fact-finding team that conducted an investigation days after the bloodshed.
On April 1, at least 6,000 farmers, mostly from central Mindanao, barricaded a portion of the highway in Kidapawan City to dramatize their protest against the alleged inaction of the local government on their demand for food subsidy as El Niño had devastated their farms.
Some reports had said that North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza ordered the dispersal of the protesting farmers, but Mendoza denied this, pointing to the police.
Palabay said the law enforcers violated the human rights of farmers and should be held responsible.
“It is important that the international community is made aware of these gross human rights violations against the farmers,” said Palabay in a statement.
She accused police and the Aquino administration of cover-up.
Palabay said her group has made a formal request for UNHRC to investigate the bloodshed.
The drought is cutting a wide swath of destruction in many parts of the country.
Olongapo drying up
In Olongapo City, rivers and other water sources have begun to dry up, prompting the city water utility company to shorten the water service schedule of several neighborhoods.
The Subic Water and Sewerage Co. Inc. (Subicwater) has advised residents of Olongapo to keep their water consumption at a minimum while the company works to build a buffer supply.
“Production in our treatment plants went down due to the critical level of our raw water resources. Water pressure in our distribution system, thus, also went down,” the firm said in its April 19 advisory.
It said reduced water pressure has been affecting at least 10 of the city’s 17 villages.
The company also said its Binictican reservoir has reached critical level. The reservoir draws unprocessed water from six rivers running through the Subic Bay Freeport’s forests.
Subicwater relies heavily on raw surface water to supply the needs of its consumers. About 99 percent of its raw water comes from rivers, requiring a multistage treatment process.
The company’s water production capacity is 84.05 MLD (million liters per day). But, on Monday, the company started cutting its water service schedule by at least eight hours in upland areas, including the villages of Kalaklan and Barretto.
Subicwater also warned consumers of a looming water supply shortage due to the lack of rainfall.
“There is a big possibility that the management of Subicwater would declare ‘drought condition-1’ or mild drought,” it said. Jigger Jerusalem, Inquirer Mindanao, and Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon
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