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Top national, PNP officials charged for Kidapawan protest deaths

/ 01:28 PM April 25, 2016
A POSTER demanding charges be filed against policemen who opened fire at the rally of farmers in Kidapawan City is displayed during a protest rally by militant groups at the Department of Justice. RICHARD REYES

A poster demanding charges be filed against policemen who opened fire at the rally of farmers in Kidapawan City is displayed during a protest rally by militant groups at the Department of Justice. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER / RICHARD REYES

Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, two ranking local officials and 83 others were criminally charged on Monday for the deadly dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan last April 1.

Charged with Sarmiento and Alcala before the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao were North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, Kidapawan Mayor Joseph Evangelista, various local government officials and officers of the police and military.

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For three months, the farmers asked the government for assistance but were ignored, prompting them to block a national road.

Two farmers were killed and more than 30 were hurt when police broke up their barricade. Over 75 other protesters– including minors, pregnant women and senior citizens–were arrested and criminally charged.

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Among those facing a complaint for murder are Sarmiento, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ricardo Marquez, Taliño-Mendoza, Evangelista, PNP Regional Director for Region 12 Police Superintendent Noel Armilla, PNP Acting Deputy Regional Director For Operations for Region 12 Senior Superintendent Roberto Badian; North Cotabato PNP Provincial Director, Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum; and Kidapawan police chief Inspector John Patrick Calinga.

Other respondents are a certain Lt. Col. Birrey; Director Isagani Nerez, ground commander of the PNP Strike Force; Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, commander of the 10th Infantry Division; Col. Ronald Villanueva, 1002nd Brigade Commander; Lt. Col. Arnold Argamosa, commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion; Fire Senior Inspector Noa Pacalda; Charlie Pasco, a certain Sgt. Obiano, SPO1 Boynel Lumpgdang, P01 Solon and P02 Baldua and several unidentified policemen, soldiers and civilian agents of  police and military units.

They are also facing a complaint for violations of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law, Republic Act 7438 or the Rights of Accused, Batas Pambansa 880 or the Public Assembly Act and Presidential Decree 1829 or the Law against Obstruction of Justice.

Complainants include Ebao, father of Darwin Sulang, one of those killed in the dispersal.

An independent autopsy showed Sulang sustained a gunshot wound on his forehead. Police claimed Sulang died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Other complainants are 17-year-old Victor Lumondang Jr. who sustained seven gunshot wounds; Arnel Takyawan who sustained a gunshot wound in the leg; Mark Anthony Delgado was also hit by a bullet in his leg and sustained other injuries after he was kicked and hit by truncheons; and Lumenario Agustin.

Takyawan and Lumenario said a policeman atop a firetruck shot them. Lumenario was with Sulang when he was killed.

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The complainants cited the testimonies of the police officers during the Senate investigation.

Based on the Senate inquiry, Taliño-Mendoza convened the North Cotabato Crisis Committee to deal with the protest. The committee was composed of Talino-Mendoza, Evangelista, Armilla, Tagum and Calinga. It was the committee which decided to disperse the protest and which crafted the plan to break it up.

According to the complaint, the plan for the dispersal and its implementation were carried out by Tagum, Evangelista and Calinga. However, before the actual implementation was carried out, they sought the guidance of Armilla, Badian and Nerez.

Armilla said they also sought guidance from Marquez.

“This evidently shows the complicity and acquiescence not only of the provincial and regional officers but also of respondent Marquez,” the complainant, assisted by counsels from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Public Interest Law Center (PILC) stated.

RELATED STORIES

Detained Kidapawan farmers released

Kidapawan court refuses to dismiss case vs farmers

Gunshots killed Kidapawan victims, says forensics expert

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TAGS: Kidapawan, Mel Sarmiento, News, Proceso Alcala
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