Police, military stop 300 farmers to protest in Cagayan de Oro
The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) condemned the military and police for preventing 300 farmers from staging a Calvary of the Poor protest action against Martial Law in Mindanao in Cagayan de Oro.
In essence, despite the police’ pronouncement that it respects the right of every person to travel, to peaceful assembly and petition the government for redress of grievances, it had no intention whatsoever to respect these rights from the beginning.
According to Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, chairperson of UMA, as early as April 11, the military’s 403rd Brigade distributed leaflets red-tagging the Calvary of the Poor.
Among the organizations it red-tagged in its leaflet behind the Calvary of the Poor was UMA and its local organization OGYON. It stands for Onyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (United Small Farmworkers Union).
On April 18, the sakbayan of 14 vehicles were held in Dalwangan and Sumilao by the 88th IB and SAF. In both places, the pictures of all the participants were taken and the names of their leaders were listed down. Then they were told by the military that they were sent by the NPA to make trouble in Cagayan de Oro.
In Sumilao, the police also threw spikes into the ground that resulted in flatting the tire of the lead vehicle of the sakbayan.
On April 19, they were again held by the police and military in Manolo Fortich from 11am – 4pm. They were told that they were looking for an NPA leader among their ranks and wanted to arrest Datu Walter España. The Datu is the spokesperson of Hustisya. He was almost extra judicially killed on Nov. 23, 2018.
DSWD personnel who did not want to identify themselves also wanted to take into custody 15 children who were brought along by their parents because no one would take care of them back home. Police accused the protesters of human trafficking which is a common offense charged among human rights defenders in Mindanao.