Leftist group demands release of farmers
Members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, a militant leftist group, stormed the office of the Department of Justice yesterday and demanded the immediate release of the farmers detained for the Kidapawan mass dispersal that led to violence. The protest resulted in the deaths of two people and injuries of dozens more.
The wing of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) does not believe that the arrest of the farmers were legal, and they slammed the bail of P12,000 set for the release of each farmer arrested. The P12,000 bail was later slid down to P6,000 per farmer. According to them, each time they spend in jail is equivalent to "an injustice". The group claimed that the farmers were arrested without warrant, hence making the arrest illegal.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said that there were even some pregnant women and children arrested, though the children were later released.
He decried the government for their response to the situation: "“They came to Kidapawan to ask for rice. Now they are being made to pay for their bail. They don’t even have money for food".
The leftist group is basing its claims on a Senate inquiry that many of the farmers were deceived by the police before arrest.
"They were promised a ride back to their communities and were even given food. It was only later that they were brought to a gym and a school where they were placed under arrest," he said.
He appeals to people to continue making a stand against the atrocities: "We call on the people to continue to stand with the farmers of North Cotabato. Let us press for the immediate and unconditional release of all detained farmers and the dropping of the trumped-up charges against them."