Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On Kidapawan and Militant Rallies

It's been a firestorm of emotion ever since April Fool's Day. The Faculty Center of my Alma mater burned down prompting my college friends and acquaintances to start reminiscing and organizing support initiatives. With the emotion at a high, Kidapawan happened and my timeline was filled with unrivaled anger coming from even the most happy-go-lucky individuals.

With a re-energized Facebook friends list, political discussions ramped up. Kidapawan became the major focus of discussions and a lot was covered. Leftist friends started antagonizing pro-administation sentiments. Some showed appreciation for the men and women in uniform who were there at the location. And yet, a few remained silent - me included.

What happened in Kidapawan was truly sad and there's no denying that fact. With Mother Earth's unwavering, merciless wrath destroying their means of survival, people joined a rally to get reprieve. There, their source of help turned the other cheek and decided to continually ignore them. Until finally, their permit expired and they were left to either return to where they were in the first place or remain where they are and hope for some sort of relief. They chose the latter, relief never came and all hell broke loose.
I've touched on the paltry state of of our agricultural sector on my last post (link). With the continuing heat wave our country is experiencing, we may have reached the tipping point. And it is fair to say even if you are not in the fields that making ends meat through farming is getting harder and harder.

As I've mentioned, I've kept silent, relatively, regarding what happened. Hey, our president has basically done the same thing, right? Surely the leader of our nation knows the best course of action, right? In my silence, several issues have popped up. Several of them are regarded as facts we haven't changed at the moment while others are mere speculations. The torrent of information coming from the media is amazing and most of us are unable to keep up.

As of right now, we don't know what really went down. The PNP and the CHR have promised investigations in the coming days. But there have been reports of the police cleaning up evidence immediately after the confrontation. There was also a report that gun powder was detected on one of the protesters through a paraffin test. But then again, a paraffin test has its limitations. It can yield false positives especially if the one being tested has been handling tobacco or fertilizer, things a farmer would usually have (link). We have a bunch of politicians condemning what happened. We also have reports of the government's inability to release funds, food and supplies quickly enough to help the farmers cope with the heat. And, perhaps most prevalent recently, there have been reports that leftist organizations were the ones that urged the farmers to join the rally

But through all the things being reported, there is one thing that hasn't made its way to me through mass media: police procedures. I don't know, maybe I haven't been as focused on the news lately. But the lack of details on how things should be handled from my choice of news programs is troubling. And maybe a lot of my friends on Facebook are in the same boat because they're not talking about it.

Checking on the PNP Handbook (link), it's pretty clear that the main focus of police officers, or civil disturbance management team, is peace. There is a clear procedure to be followed and strict guidelines are put in place. The handbook also explicitly states that no firearm is to be brought within 100m of the rally. Police on the ground have said they gave warning shots. If they were following their handbook, would they even have that option? Plus, according to the handbook, warning shots are prohibited during police operations. TV5's Ed Lingao did a great job summarizing this in a Facebook post (link).

I once said in the past that "rules are not meant to be followed, they should be justified (link)". So let's justify this rule. Let's assume that the activists were the ones that attacked first and the police see their colleagues getting attacked by rocks and sticks. Is it justifiable for them to break the rule and use guns? Well, they are expected to be better-trained and physically fit. And the police are armed with better equipment. But what if the protesters had guns? I mean, one police allegedly sustained a bullet wound to the leg. Does that justify the usage of firearms? Sure! But that doesn't justify the continued "warning" shots seen on videos. And then again, those guns shouldn't have been there in the first place which, by the way, I think is a troublesome rule but a rule nonetheless. And a rule that, had been followed, could have prevented deaths. And it's also a rule that's still not being followed.
Through all this, I'm not discounting the heroism of our police officers. Most of them risk with some even losing their lives to protect our freedoms. But three people died and countless were injured on both sides. And even then, the DILG did not wait for any form of investigation to reward our men.

The issue of politics, whether you're a leftist or not, should take a backseat. The lack of professionalism being displayed by the government is worrisome. The bureaucracy's lack of effective and efficient service provision led to the farmer's desperation. I'm not usually one to prejudge prior to any investigation. But the police lacked the professionalism to follow their own rules. And the president remaining silent through all this is... well... you know.

Militant rallies happen all the time. Them urging the poor to join them is akin to your usual political candidates urging people to vote for them using their deep pockets and nonsensical jingles. It's dirty. But it is what it is. And just like those politicians, these leftists deserve the same professional, impartial and impersonal government whenever they come in contact with it. And those unknowing farmers certainly deserve that sort of governance as well.

This government that once said that it is not responsible for the seeking of justice for the Mendiola Massacre (link) is once again showing a complete lack of professionalism. This nation deserves better.


They put food on our tables. It's our turn to put food on theirs.Tulong Kabataan is now accepting donations for our fellow Mindanao Farmers. Please refer to the poster for details.#BIGAShindiBALA
Posted by KABATAAN PARTYLIST on Tuesday, 5 April 2016


A very important message from Dr. John Paul Vergara and the Ateneo University Press: The Ateneo de Manila University...
Posted by Rica Bolipata Santos on Tuesday, 5 April 2016

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