Revolutionary gov’t indicts Aquino, et al in bloody dispersal of civilian Lumad, farmers

National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Southern Mindanao Region

Press Statement
April 1, 2017

Kidapawan Massacre, a year later: Revolutionary gov’t indicts Aquino, et al in bloody dispersal of civilian Lumad, farmers

On the commemoration of the bloody dispersal of Lumad and farmers in what is now notoriously remembered as the Kidapawan Massacre, the National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao released the Indictment for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law against former GRP Pres. Benigno Aquino III, North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco, several other GRP civilian personalities and military and police officials.

On April 1, last year, more than 6,000 Lumad and farmers barricaded the national highway in Kidapawan City and protested the criminal neglect of the reactionary national and provincial governments in the face of hunger and devastation brought about by severe drought. The farmers also demanded the end to the AFP’s militarization and use of paramilitaries that were aggravating the severity of their condition.

The ensuing events manifested the reactionary government’s penchant for fascism and contempt for legitimate resistance: the protesting farmers were violently dispersed with bullets, truncheons and water cannons. Two civilians died while 34 were seriously injured, including 22 people who sustained gunshot wounds. In the aftermath of the bloody carnage, the GRP even had the audacity to unjustly arrest and detain 79 civilians, nine of whom were elderly and five were pregnant, over spurious charges of serious injury supposedly against fully-armed PNP and SWAT personnel.

The Indictment, issued following a thorough investigation conducted on behalf of the People’s Democratic Government, found compelling evidence that the “gross neglect and apathy and willful acts and/of omissions” of the named-respondents violated the fundamental rights of the civilians guaranteed in international tenets, covenants and instruments such as the GRP-NDFP 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1966 International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The investigation was culled from testimonies of the victims, fact-finding missions, documents and video footages and transcripts of coverage from media organizations who were present at the start of the farmer’s demonstration and barricade until days after the violent dispersal. It was dated December 26, 2016 but was only made public this year.

Specifically, the Indictment enumerated the following facts:
1. “The willful shooting that resulted in multiple violent deaths and serious injuries, the incarceration and the maltreatment of civilians were all deliberate acts of aggression against defenseless civilians and vulnerable sections of the civilian population long considered under IHL as protected persons.”

The Indictment succinctly outlined how the reactionary government, even at the onset, already rejected a solution to the plight of the farmers other than dispersing the peaceful demonstration.

2. “The premeditated and arbitrary use of superior and overwhelming armed force and military might against defenseless civilians constitute a most severe crime of mass murder ― what ensued was a massacre in broad daylight on a national highway ordered by state officials and implemented by state forces, without compunction or fear of accountability and with extreme prejudice.”

The Indictment narrated the events that unfolded before, during and immediately after the violent dispersal. It chronicled the command decisions of Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, former North Cotabato PNP Provincial Director Alexander Tagum and Kidapawan City Chief of Police John Calinga that led to the wanton shooting of the unarmed civilians.

3. “Naked terror persisted after the barricade was fully destroyed and the civilians were subjected to more contemptible attacks.”

The Indictment recounted the illegal arrest and detention of the civilians who were also physically assaulted by the fully-armed PNP and SWAT personnel. It also showed how the respondents connived to conceal the facts regarding the cause of death of the civilians in order to shroud their culpability.

4. The “Respondent GPH civilian bureaucrats were criminally liable for gross negligence, and failed to act promptly, if at all, to ease the suffering and ameliorate the livelihood of the people. In particular, Respondent GPH civilian bureaucrats failed to decisively address the immediate and legitimate demands of the hungry and drought-stricken farmers in North Cotabato and adjoining areas.”

The Indictment described the inutility of the reactionary national and provincial governments over the widespread damage caused by the severe drought to the lives and livelihood of the Lumad and farmers. It, likewise, underscored that in the face of such devastation, the AFP with the consent of the provincial reactionary officials continued to unleash fascist abuse in the countryside, especially in arming and mobilizing the paramilitary Bagani in North Cotabato.

The Indictment recommended that the named respondents, after due trial by a People’s Court, “be meted out with appropriate penalties for having committed the above-mentioned acts constituting war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law.” It also effectively prescribed the arrest of said respondents.

Despite the feigned condemnation and the fanfare of inquiries by the reactionary government, like most crimes committed against hapless Filipinos, no justice has yet been given to the victims of the Kidapawan massacre. The continued evasion from accountability of Aquino and the other perpetrators of this heinous act is a stark reminder of the ruling class’ blatant contempt and apathy to the plight of the Lumad and peasants.

On behalf of the People’s Democratic Government, the National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao affirms its commitment to pursue revolutionary justice to the victims of the reactionary government’s criminal neglect and culpability in the massacre. Rest assured that the revolutionary movement will wage all forms of resistance—in the streets, in the negotiating table and especially in the arm struggle—to ensure that the martyrs of Kidapawan barricade shall not have died in vain.

NPA units in North Cotabato have continued to launch offensives against troops of the AFP, PNP and their paramilitaries, most notably the March 15 raid and disarming of their scalawag asset that trafficked illegal firearms in the province and in nearby regions. Peasant masses in the province, with the guidance of revolutionary mass organizations, wage campaigns for land, food and justice that demand genuine agrarian reform and comprehensive assistance during calamities.