NCCP Statement: On the Violent Dispersal of the Farmers’ Demonstration in Kidapawan
“…Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come and my deliverance be revealed…” (Isaiah 56:1).
Impelled by the severe hunger caused by the intense dry spell in North Cotabato, compounded by empty promises of government aid to avert the debilitating effects of the El Niño phenomenon, some 6,000 farmers and indigenous people took to the main highway in Kidapawan to demand for rice and the release of calamity funds. The peaceful assembly on April 1 was brutally dispersed by state security forces. Their demands were well within the government’s capacity to respond to but the farmers were met by gunfire, hot pursuit and illegal arrests. The demonstrators sought refuge at Spottswood Methodist Mission Center which willingly opened their doors to provide safety. The shots have died down but as of this writing, the farmers continue to be harassed by police and military presence at the Mission Center.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) raises a thunderous cry of anger at such a senseless and heartless action of the state whose main responsibility is to feed and protect its people. We vehemently denounce the continuing harassment of Bishop Ciriaco Francisco of the United Methodist Church-Davao Episcopal Area and his constituents at Spottswood Methodist Mission Center. We commend their courageous missional deed of putting the church facilities at the service of the unjustly tormented and persecuted. We earnestly pray for endurance as they stand alongside the farmers at such a time as this.
As we painfully mourn the deaths and continuing threats to our sisters and brothers who do not deserve such cruelty, we call for a credible independent investigation of this violation of the people’s right to peaceful assembly and basic social services. We have yet to hear what national leaders have to say about the Kidapawan carnage. Their silence up to this time is frightening. We demand that the donations of various groups and individuals, including showbiz personalities, be given to the farmers hard hit by the weather crisis and now, this violent dispersal of their demonstration. Our faith in the God who cares for the dispossessed will not allow us to be silent until justice is meted out to the perpetrators of this inhuman act.
We challenge the NCCP member churches and our international partners to join the donation campaign to provide immediate relief to our sisters and brothers in Kidapawan and other regions which are in similar straits.
Let the truth rise unmuddled!
Approved during the Executive Committee meeting – April 7, 2016.
(SGD.) JUSTICE RAOUL V. VICTORINO, Ret.
(SGD.) Bishop RODOLFO A. JUAN
(SGD.) Ms. SHARON ROSE JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES
(SGD.) Ms. LISSA BELLE R. BROWN
(SGD.) Mr. REYNALDO M. NATIVIDAD
(SGD.) Rev. REX RB REYES, JR.